The Parting Glass

Traditional, c. 17th c. | Roud 3004, Ballad Index HHH769

Lyrics:

Of all the money that e’er I had
I spent it in good company
And all the harm that e’er I’ve done
Alas it was to none but me
And all I’ve done for want of wit
To memory now I can’t recall
So fill to me the parting glass
Goodnight and joy be with you all

Of all the comrades that e’er I had
They are sorry for my going away
And of all the sweethearts that e’er I had
They wish me one more day to stay
But since it falls unto my lot
That I should rise while you should not
I will gently rise and I’ll softly call,
“Goodnight and joy be with you all!”

Additional/Alternative Verses

Oh, if I had money enough to spend
And leisure time to sit awhile
There is a fair maiden in this town
That sorely has my heart beguiled
Her rosy cheeks and ruby lips
She alone has my heart in thrall
So fill to me the parting glass
Goodnight and joy be with you all

Verse recorded by Sam Henry on 20 Aug 1938, published in Sam Henry’s Songs of the People (1990, edited by Gale Huntington):

A man may drink and not be drunk
Ah a man may fight and not be slain
Oh a man may court a pretty girl
And perhaps be welcomed back again
And since it is so ordered
By a time to rise and a time to fall
Come fill to me the parting glass
Goodnight, and joy be with you all

Verse from a 1786 broadside titled “An admired song called The parting glass” (Bodleian 2806 c.15[13])

When I am drinking far away
and none but strangers ‘round me there
How my poor heart will surely break
Then thinking of my lovely dear
Oh! My poor heart will surely break
When I am bousing far awa’,
From you my dear so far awa’
So far awa’, so far awa’

Verse from a broadside (Harding B 25[762]) titled “Good Night and Joy be with you all”

My dearest dear, do not be coy
Nor treat your love with cold disdain
For though that I shall go away
Perhaps I may return again
And if that I return again
I will enjoy my own dear lass
And we will tie the nuptial knot
At the drinking of a joining glass

Lyrics - Good Nicht and Joy Be Wi' Ye A'

This version is credited (by bothy ballads man John Ord) to the Aberdeen poet John Imlah (1799-1846), of ‘Whaur Gadie Rins’ fame. Though he probably did write these words, Imlah didn’t originate the song, as at least two versions were in print before he was born.

Good nicht and joy be wi’ ye a’
Since it is sae that I maun gang
Short seemed the gate to come, but ah
Tae gang again is weary lang
Sic joyous nichts come nae sae thrang
That I sae soon should haste awa’
But since it’s sae that I maun gae
Good nicht and joy be wi’ ye a’

This nicht I ween we’ve had the heart
Tae gar auld time tak’ tae his feet
That mak’s us a’ fu’ laith tae pairt
And aye mair fain again tae meet
Tae dree the winter’s drift an’ weet
For sic a nicht is nocht ava
For hours the minutes o’ the sweet
Good nicht and joy be wi’ ye a’

Our bald-powed daddies, here we’ve seen
In younkers revels fidgin’ fain
Our grey haired grannies, here hae been
Like daffin’ hizzies young again
Tae mony a merry auld Scots strain
We’ve deftly passed the time awa’
We met in mirth, we pairt in pain
Good nicht and joy be wi’ ye a’

My nimble steed neighs at the yett
My shooders roun’ the plaid I throw
I’ve clapt the spur upon my buit
The guid braid bunnet on my brow
The nicht is wearin’ late I trow
My hame lies mony a mile awa’
The mair’s the need tae mount an’ go
Good nicht and joy be wi’ ye a’

Bring me the deochandorus gill
‘Twill licht a bouat in my e’r
Through mirk nae fear that I gang will
Drink doubly an’ I’ll doubly see
Young lads an’ lasses, tent ye me
As hame ye daunder twa an’ twa
Love guide your gait, blin’ though it be
Good nicht and joy be wi’ ye a’

Alternate Lyrics - Good Nicht and Joy Be Wi' Ye A'

By Sir Alexander Boswell (1775-1822) of Ayrshire. His version is quite different from the others, apparently written by a man close to death. In ‘Scots Minstrelsie’, John Greig says that the air was ‘popular long before 1740’.

Good nicht and joy be wi’ ye a’
Since it is sae that I maun gang
Short seemed the gate to come, but ah
Tae gang again is weary lang
Sic joyous nichts come nae sae thrang
That I sae soon should haste awa’
But since it’s sae that I maun gae
Good nicht and joy be wi’ ye a’

This nicht I ween we’ve had the heart
Tae gar auld time tak’ tae his feet
That mak’s us a’ fu’ laith tae pairt
And aye mair fain again tae meet
Tae dree the winter’s drift an’ weet
For sic a nicht is nocht ava
For hours the minutes o’ the sweet
Good nicht and joy be wi’ ye a’

Our bald-powed daddies, here we’ve seen
In younkers revels fidgin’ fain
Our grey haired grannies, here hae been
Like daffin’ hizzies young again
Tae mony a merry auld Scots strain
We’ve deftly passed the time awa’
We met in mirth, we pairt in pain
Good nicht and joy be wi’ ye a’

My nimble steed neighs at the yett
My shooders roun’ the plaid I throw
I’ve clapt the spur upon my buit
The guid braid bunnet on my brow
The nicht is wearin’ late I trow
My hame lies mony a mile awa’
The mair’s the need tae mount an’ go
Good nicht and joy be wi’ ye a’

Bring me the deochandorus gill
‘Twill licht a bouat in my e’r
Through mirk nae fear that I gang will
Drink doubly an’ I’ll doubly see
Young lads an’ lasses, tent ye me
As hame ye daunder twa an’ twa
Love guide your gait, blin’ though it be
Good nicht and joy be wi’ ye a’

Lyrics - Neighbours farewel to his friends

Published in a broadside in 1654 according to Wing N414B and c. 1670 according to the British Library (R43475)

Now come is my departing time
And here I may no longer stay
There is no kind comrade of mine
But will desire I were away
But if that time will me permit
Which from your Company doth call
And me inforceth for to flit
Good night, and God be with you all

For here I grant some time I spent
In loving kind good Company
For all offences I repent
And wisheth now forgiven to be
What I have done, for want of wit
To Memory I’ll not recall
I hope you are my Friends as yet
Good night, and God be with you all

Complementing I never lov’d
Nor talkative much for to be
And of speeches a multitude
Becomes no man of quality
From Faith, Love, Peace and Unity
I wish none of us ever fall
God grant us all prosperity
Good night, and God be with you all

I wish that I might longer stay
To enjoy your Society
The Lord to bless you night and da,
And still be in your Company
To vice, nor to iniquity
God grant none of you ever fall
God’s blessing keep you both and me!
Good night, and God be with you all

The Friends Reply:

Most loving friend, God be thy guide
And never leave thy Company
And all things needful thee provide
And give thee all prosperity
We rather had thy Company
It thou wouldn’t have stayed us among
We wish you much felicity
Good grant that nothing doe thee wrong

 

Lyrics From a Broadside
Harding B 26(498), no date.

All the money that e’er I had
I spent it in good company
And all the harm that e’er I done
Alas! it is to none but me
And all I’ve done for the want of wit
To memory now I can’t recall
So fill to me the parting glass
Good night and joy be with you all.

Be with you all—be with you all
Good night and joy be with you all
So fill to me the parting glass
Good night and joy be with you all

O! why are we to part so soon
And leave those scenes of gay delight
Or why does yon declining moon proclaim
That we must say good night
But if by death we are doomed to part
We’ll meet again in friendship’s call,
So fill to me the parting glass
Good night and joy be with you all.

Be with you all—be with you all
Good night and joy be with you all
So fill to me the parting glass
Good night and joy be with you all

All the comrades that e’er I had
They’re sorry for me going away,
All the sweethearts e’er I had
They’d wish me one day more to stay
But since it came unto my lot
That I should rise and you should not
I gently rise and with a smile
Good night and joy be with you all.

Be with you all—be with you all
Good night and joy be with you all
So fill to me the parting glass
Good night and joy be with you all

If I had money enough to spend
And leisure time to sit a while
There’s a fair maid in this town
That surely has my heart beguile
Her rosy cheeks and her ruby lips
I own she has my heart enthralled
Then fill to me the parting glass
Good night and joy be with you all

Be with you all—be with you all
Good night and joy be with you all
So fill to me the parting glass
Good night and joy be with you all

Those feeling sighs can only tell
How friendship weep that we must part
Or where’s friendship knowing to dwell
So pure as in an Irish heart
And on that heart of Irish mood
And dire oppression ne’er fall
And may those feelings never grow cold
Good night and joy be with you all.

Be with you all—be with you all
Good night and joy be with you all
So fill to me the parting glass
Good night and joy be with you all

When I am boosing off my quart
And none but strangers round me all
My poor heart will surely break
When I am boosing far awa’
Far awa’, oh, far awa’
When I am boosing far awa’
My poor heart will surely break
When I am boosing far awa’

Be with you all—be with you all
Good night and joy be with you all
So fill to me the parting glass
Good night and joy be with you all

Lyrics from Sam Henry's Songs of the People

Verse recorded by Sam Henry on 20 Aug 1938, published in Sam Henry’s Songs of the People (1990, edited by Gale Huntington). Source not given.

A man may drink and not be drunk
A man may fight and not be slain
A man may court a pretty girl
And perhaps be welcomed back again
And since it is so ordered
By a time to rise and a time to fall
Come fill to me the parting glass
Goodnight and joy be with you all

If I had money for to spend
If I had time to waste away
There is a fair maid in this town
I fain would wile her heart away
With her rosy cheeks and her dimpled chin
My heart she has beguiled away
So fill to me the parting glass
Goodnight and joy be with you a’

If I had money for to spend
I’d spend it in her company
And for all the harm that I have done
I hope it’s pardoned I will be
What I’ve done for want of it
To memory I can’t recall
So fill to me the parting glass
Goodnight and joy be with you all

My dearest dear, the time draws near
Where here no longer I can stay
There’s not a comrade I leave behind
But is grieving that I’m going away
But since it has so ordered been
What is once past can’t be recalled
Now fill to me the parting glass
Goodnight and joy be with you all

Lyrics Published in Songs of the Newfoundland Outports

Lyrics from Kenneth Peacock’s 1965 book Songs of the Newfoundland Outports, Vol. 2.

When I have money enough to spend and time to sit and talk awhile
There is a girl lives in this place and I’m sure she has my heart beguiled
With her rosy cheeks and her cherry lips she stole my tender heart away
So fill to me the parting glass for here no longer can I stay

And fill to you the parting glass and part with your nice company
There is nothing that could grieve me more than to see you going so far away
You can believe me well, or believe me not, it is from you I intend to go
You can think on me, my blue-eyed girl, when and where all stormy winds do blow

Last night as I lay down to rest when fancy did my mind annoy
I dreamt my Jimmy he was pressed, my bonny blue-eye Irish boy
He has gone on board so neat and gay with bold undaunted bravery
He has gone on board so neat and gay to serve his royal majesty

When I have money for to spend I spend it in good company
And all the harm that ever I have done I hope ye will all excuse me
For what I done was for the want of a wish, and to my memory I now recall
So fill to me the parting glass, goodnight and joy be with you all

Variant: The Farewell to the Brethren of St. James' Lodge, Tarbolton

Written in 1786. Burns Country 114

Adieu! a heart-warm, fond adieu;
Dear Brothers of the Mystic Tye!
Ye favoured, ye enlighten’d few,
Companions of my social joy!
Tho’ I to foreign lands must hie,
Pursuing Fortune’s slidd’ry ba’;
With melting heart and brimful eye,
I’ll mind you still, tho’ far awa’.

Oft have I met your social band,
And spent the cheerful, festive night:
Oft, honour’d with supreme command,
Presided o’er the Sons of Light;
And by that Hieroglyphic bright,
Which none but Craftsmen ever saw!
Strong Mem’ry on my heart shall write
Those happy scenes, when far awa’.

May Freedom, Harmony, and Love,
Unite you in the Grand Design,
Beneath th’ Omniscient Eye above-
The glorious Architect Divine,
That you may keep th’ Unerring Line,
Still rising by the Plummet’s Law,
Till Order bright completely shine,
Shall be my pray’r when far awa.

And you, farewell! whose merits claim
Justly that Highest Badge to wear:
Heav’n bless your honour’d, noble name,
To Masonry and Scotia dear!
A last request permit me here
When yearly ye assemble a’,
One round, I ask it with a tear,
To him, the Bard that’s far awa’.

Variant - Good Night, Good Night

Written by Scottish poet and playwright Joanna Ballie in her 1836 musical drama The Phantom.

The sun is down, and time gone by
The stars are twinkling in the sky
Nor torch nor taper longer may
Eke out a blithe but stinted day
The hours have pass’d with stealthy flight
We needs must part: good night, good night!

The bride unto her bower is sent
And ribald song and jesting spent
The lover’s whisper’d words and few
Have bid the bashful maid adieu
The dancing floor is silent quite
No foot bounds there: good night, good night!

The lady in her curtain’d bed
The herdsman in his wattled shed
The clansmen in the heather’d hall
Sweet sleep be with you, one and all I
We part in hopes of days as bright
As this gone by: good night, good night!

Sweet sleep be with us, one and all
And if upon its stillness fall
The visions of a busy brain
We’ll have our pleasure o’er again
To warm the heart, to charm the sight
Gay dreams to all! good night, good night!

Variant: Erin's Farewell
From the singing of Kevin and Ellen Mitchell on their 2001 album Have a Drop Mair released by Musical Traditions (MTCD315-6)

Kevin notes in the liner notes, “Adam McNaughtan collected this song a few years ago. It was first sung in a programme of political songs called Radicals and Reactionarys. The tune suggested was Goodnight and Joy be With You All. This was a song which had not, before now, been included in the Roud Index.”

Adieu, adieu, my bosom friends
Dear brethren of the union band
My every thought shall be with you
When travelling to a distant land

Though I must leave this land of slaves
Of chains and sad coercive laws
May God defend each hearty friend
Goodnight and joy be with you all

If fate condemns brave Irish men
To seek a far and distant shore
And leave behind a heart so kind
In valleys loved for evermore

Though I must leave this land of slaves
Of chains and sad coercive laws
May God defend each hearty friend
Goodnight and joy be with you all

In Auchrim’s plains there now remains
The bones of my forefathers brave
Had I been there I’d shed a tear
Of sorrow on each heroes grave

Though I must leave this land of slaves
Of chains and sad coercive laws
May God defend each hearty friend
Goodnight and joy be with you all

The harbour bell does seem to tell
The awful moment to withdraw
‘May the High Chief heal Erin’s grief’
Shall be my prayer when far awa’

Though I must leave this land of slaves
Of chains and sad coercive laws
May God defend each hearty friend
Goodnight and joy be with you all

Variant - Sweet Cootehill Town

As published in P. W. Joyce’s 1909 book Old Irish Folk Music and Songs who learned it from the singing of Dave Dwane of Glenosheen, described as, “the best local singer we had.” Cootehill is a town in County Cavan.

Oh fare you well sweet Cootehill town
The place where I was born and bred
Through shady groves and flowery hills
My youthful fancy did serenade
But now I’m bound for Amerikay
A country that I never saw
These pleasant scenes I’ll always mind
When I am roving far away

The pleasant hills near Cootehill town
Where I have spent my youthful days
Both day and night I took delight
In dancing and in harmless plays
But while I rove from town to town
Fond memory in my mind shall stay
Of those pleasant happy youthful hours
That now are spent and passed away

Perchance kind fate will reinstate
And fortune’s face upon me smile
To safe conduct me home again
To my own dear native Irish isle
When all my comrades and friends likewise
Will gather round and to me say
“We’ll sing and dance as in days gone by
For you’re welcome home from Amerikay”

More notes from Joyce:
“I heard him sing it for the last time at an ‘American Wake,’ i.e. a meeting of friends on the evening before the departure of several young people for America, as a farewell celebration. The song was very suitable for the occasion: and poor Dave who was himself going away with the others sang it with such intense feeling and power, that the whole company men, women, and children were in tears. That is now more than sixty years ago; and to this hour I find it hard to restrain tears when I recall the scene. The air belongs I think to Munster; for I heard it played and sung everywhere, and quite often with other words besides ‘Sweet Cootehill Town’. It is sometimes called ‘The Peacock’, which is certainly not its original name. Versions of it have been published in Smith’s Vocal Melodies of Ireland and elsewhere. In Cork and Limerick the people often sang to it Burns’s song, ‘Adieu, a heart warm fond adieu,’ so that it was commonly known by the name of ‘Burns’s Farewell’. Mr. Patrick O’Leary of Graignamanagh an excellent authority on the folk music and song of that neighbourhood has informed me that, in his part of the country Kilkenny and Carlow this song is usually sung at the little gatherings of friends on the evening before the departure of emigrants for America: as I heard it sung in Limerick. The air seems to have been used indeed as a general farewell tune, so that from the words of another song of the same class it is often called ‘Good Night and Joy Be With You All’. The Cootehill words are now published for the first time. The last verse presents a pleasing picture: but alas, how seldom we see it realised!”

Contemporary Rewrite - Restless Farewell
Written by Bob Dylan on his 1964 album The Times They Are A-Changin’.

Oh all the money that in my whole life I did spend
Be it mine right or wrongfully
I let it slip gladly past the hands of my friends
To tie up the time most forcefully
But the bottles are done
We’ve killed each one
And the table’s full and overflowed
And the corner sign
Says it’s closing time
So I’ll bid farewell and be down the road

Oh ev’ry girl that ever I’ve touched
I did not do it harmfully
And ev’ry girl that ever I’ve hurt
I did not do it knowin’ly
But to remain as friends
And make amends
You need the time and stay behind
And since my feet are now fast
And point away from the past
I’ll bid farewell and be down the line

Oh ev’ry foe that ever I faced
The cause was there before we came
And ev’ry cause that ever I fought
I fought it full without regret or shame
But the dark does die
As the curtain is drawn and somebody’s eyes
Must meet the dawn
And if I see the day
I’d only have to stay
So I’ll bid farewell in the night and be gone

Oh, ev’ry thought that’s strung a knot in my mind
I might go insane if it couldn’t be sprung
But it’s not to stand naked under unknowin’ eyes
It’s for myself and my friends my stories are sung
But the time ain’t tall, yet on time you depend
And no word is possessed by no special friend
And though the line is cut
It ain’t quite the end
I’ll just bid farewell till we meet again

Oh a false clock tries to tick out my time
To disgrace, distract, and bother me
And the dirt of gossip blows into my face
And the dust of rumors covers me
But if the arrow is straight
And the point is slick
It can pierce through dust no matter how thick
So I’ll make my stand
And remain as I am
And bid farewell and not give a damn

Featured On:
Me Grief and Tears to Smother

• More Recordings •




About the Song:

“The Parting Glass” is one of the most iconic songs in the Irish tradition in the present day, but it’s far from contemporary. Its roots go all the way back to the mid-17th century with a broadside set to a different melody titled “Neighbours farewel [sic] to his friends”. The melody now associated with it dates back to 1782 where it was published as a fiddle tune titled “The Peacock” in James Aird’s A Selection of Scots, English, Irish and Foreign Airs.

The song appears pretty sporadically throughout the years, especially considering that it was supposed to be the most popular song in Scotland before Robert Burns wrote “Auld Lang Syne” in 1788. It seems as if it was so well known that people didn’t bother publishing it very often. Most publishings from the 17th and 18th centuries were typically titled either “Good Nicht an’ Joy Be Wi’ You A'” or “The Parting Glass”, with the former being more popular in Scotland and the latter in Ireland. Burns also wrote his own version of this song titled “Farewell to the Brethern of St. James’s Lodge, Tarbolton”. Another title, published in Sir Walter Scott’s 1813 collection Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border, is “Armstrong’s Goodnight”. Scott claims the song was “said to have been composed by one of the Armstrongs, executed for the murder of Sir John Carmichael of Edrom, Warden of the Middle Marches.” However, as T. F. Henderson comments in a 1902 reissuing of Sir Walter Scott’s Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border, Scott “neglects to give his authority on the information.” Henderson instead poses that it might be a Jacobite song in disguise.

Few traditional songs have remained as culturally relevant as “The Parting Glass”. Irish bands, pubs, and groups of friends all over the English speaking world still sing this song before parting. Groups like The Clancy Brothers and The Dubliners are certainly at least partially responsible for cementing this song in the traditional Irish repertoire.

Parent Songs: “Neighbours Farewel to His Friends”

Other titles: “Good Nicht an’ Joy Be Wi’ You A'”, “Armstrong’s Goodnight”

Variants & Child Songs: “Erin’s Farewell”, “Sweet Cootehill Town”, “The Farewell to the Brethren of St. James’ Lodge, Tarbolton” (Robert Burns), “Good Night, Good Night” (Joanna Ballie), “Restless Farewell” (Bob Dylan).

I learned this song from fellow Manistee musicians Awesome Distraction (which featured Nick Veine) around 2014, who learned it from The Wailin’ Jennys’ 2004 album 40 Days.

For further reading, check out Just Another Tune’s write-up.