> Folk Music > Songs > Here's a Health to the Company / The Parting Glass

Here's a Health to the Company / The Parting Glass

[ Roud 1801 ; G/D 8:1516 ; Ballad Index CrSe222 ; trad.]

Vin Garbutt sang We May and Might Never All Meet Here Again in 1976 on his Trailer album King Gooden.

James McDermott sang Here's a Health to the Company to Keith Summers on August 8, 1980. It was included in 2014 on the Musical Traditions anthology of Irish songs and tunes from the Keith Summers Collection, I Pray You Pay Attention.

Here's a Health to the Company is an Irish traditional song, based in the long history of emigration from Scotland and Ireland. Its strong tune has also been used for other Irish traditional songs and for the American anthem, The Liberty Song. The song might be of Ulster origin, perhaps derived from a Scottish original. Robin Morton lists it in Folksongs Sung in Ulster, and Paddy Tunney learned the song from North Antrim singer Joe Holmes. It is markedly similar to the Aberdeenshire song known as The Emigrant's Farewell to Donside.

Belle, Sheila and Cathie Stewart sang The Parting Song on their 1985 Lismor album The Stewarts of Blair. Sheila Stewart sang The Parting Glass in a recording by Doc Rowe in Blairgowrie on October 15, 1998 on her Topic CD From the Heart of the Tradition. And she sang it live at the Fife Traditional Singing Festival, Collessie, Fife in May 2003 or May 2004. This recording was included in 2005 as the title track of the Autumn Harvest anthology Here's a Health to the Company (Old Songs & Bothy Ballads Volume 1). Doc Rowe commented in the Topic album's booklet:

Sung by Belle, Sheila and Cathie Stewart on earlier recordings, this was often the final song when the family went out ‘performing’. Yet another song that figures largely in Irish repertoire and an appropriate song with which to end this CD.

Isla St Clair sang The Emigrants Farewell to Donside in the 1995 BBC Radio 2 series Tatties & Herrin'. It was included in 1997 on the first of her Greentrax albums from this series, Tatties & Herrin': The Land.

The Revels sang Here's a Health to the Company in 2002 on their CD Homeward Bound.

Janet Russell & Christine Kydd sang The Parting Glass on their 2004 Greentrax CD Dancin' Chantin'. They commented:

Christine re-wrote the last verse of this old parting song, we changed a few other words, and put it to a new tune, but it's still very much a Scottish rather than an Irish version.

Jeana Leslie and Siobhan Miller sang The Parting Glass at the 2008 BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Award at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London. This live recording was included in the same year on their first CD, In a Bleeze. They commented in the sleeve notes:

A live recording we sang as an encore after winning the 2008 BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Award. There are many versions of this song. This one hails from the north east of Scotland where it's sung at the end of social gatherings. Sing along!

Éamonn Coyne and Kris Drever sang Farewell to Stromness on their 2013 CD Storymap. They noted:

This story was collected by the Orkney Song Project. The story goes that as the whalers left Stromness (after stocking up on water), the pubs in town would empty and the drinkers would fill the bay with this song as they waved goodbye to their visitors.

Lyrics

James McDermott sings here's a Health to the Company

Kind friends and companions once more let us join,
Come raise up your glasses in a chorus with mine.
Come fill up your glasses, all griefs to refrain
For we may or might never all meet here again.

Chorus (after each verse):
Here's a health to the company, and one to my lass,
Let us drink and be merry all out of one glass.
Let us drink and be merry all griefs to refrain
For we may or might never all meet here again.

And here's to the wee lass that I love so well
For her style and for beauty there's none can excel.
She smiles on her countenance, as she sits on my knee,
For there's no-one in this wide world half so happy as me.

The big ship in harbour, I see her at dock,
And I wish her safe over without any shock.
And when she is sailing to the land of the free
I will always remember her kind words to me.

I have read the old proverb, I have read it all through,
For love is more dearer than the bright morning dew.
I have read the old proverb, I have read it all through,
Kind friends and companions we'll now bid adieu.

Sheila Stewart sings The Parting Glass

Oh kind friends and companions, come join me in rhyme,
And lift up your voices in chorus wi' mine;
Let's drink and be merry, all grief to refrain,
For we may and might never all meet here again.

Oh, now, here's to the wee lass that I love so well,
For style and for beauty there's none can excel;
She smiles on me proudly as she sits on my knee,
And there's none in this wide world as happy as me.

Chorus:
So here's a health to the company, likewise to my lass,
Let's drink and be merry all out of one glass;
Let's drink and be merry, all grief to refrain,
For we may and might never all meet here again.

Oh, my ship lies in harbour, she's ready to sail,
God grant her safe voyage without any gale;
And if we should meet again, be it land or on sea,
I will always remember your kindness to me.

(Chorus)

Janet Russell and Christine Kydd sings The Parting Glass

Kind friends and companions, come join me in rhyme,
And lift up your voices in chorus with mine;
Lift up your voices all grief to refrain,
For we may or might never all meet here again.

Chorus:
Here's a health to the company and one to my love,
Let's drink and be merry all out of one glass;
Let's drink and be merry all grief to refrain,
For we may or might never all meet here again.

My ship lies in harbour, she's ready to sail,
God grant her safe voyage without any gale;
If ever I return again by land or by sea,
I will always remember your kindness to me.

Here's a health to the friendships that we hold so dear,
A health to the sweethearts we once held so near
A health to such true loves as fortune bestowes;
May the future make friends of all of our foes

(repeat first verse)

Jeana Leslie and Siobhan Miller sing The Parting Glass

Oh kind friends and companions, come join me in rhyme,
And lift up your voices in chorus with mine;
Let's drink and be merry all grief tae refrain
For we may or might never all meet here again.

Now here's tae the wee lass that I love so well,
For style and for beauty there's nane can excel;
She smiles at me proudly as she sits on my knee,
For there's nane in this wide world as happy as me.

Chorus:
So here's a health tae the company, likewise tae my lass,
Let's drink and be merry all out of one glass;
Let's drink and be merry all grief tae refrain,
For we may or might never all meet here again.

My ship lies in harbour, she's ready tae sail,
God grant her safe voyage without any gale;
And if we should meet again, be it land or on sea,
I will always remember your kindness tae me.

(Chorus)

Éamonn Coyne and Kris Drever sing Farewell to Stromness

Come, come my kind comrades, once more let us join,
Once more your fine voices, in chorus with mine.
Let us drink and be merry, from all sorrow refrain,
For we ever or never, may we all meet again..

The time is advancing when I must away,
I bid you a farewell for many long days.
Likewise pretty fair maids of every degree,
Long in vain will I wish for your kind company.

Chorus:
So farewell to Stromness, since I must away,
I leave my best wishes to one who there stays.
May fortune protect her and with her remain,
May she never want a friend til I see her again.

So adieu to all pleasure, adieu for a while,
When the winter is over, sweet summer will smile.
Wherever I do wander, by the land or by sea,
I will always remember your kind company.

The mountains and valleys of Orkney farewell,
If ever I return again, there's no one can tell.
But you pretty fair maids who happy live here
While away on the ocean my course I must steer.

Final Chorus:
So farewell to Stromness, since I must away,
I bid you a farewell for many long days.
May fortune protect her that's loyal and true;
Here's a health, peace and plenty, farewell and adieu.

Links

See also the Mudcat Café threads Origins: Here's a Health to the Company and Origins: Farewell to Stromness.