Archive for April 7th, 2018

At the end of December 2017, the family was traveling to Afton, NY to meet with a couple dozen of our Olin relatives for lunch – or was it dinner? (this WAS a source of conversation) – when I asked my wife if she were singing Flow Gently Sweet Afton in her head, since I was.

She had no idea what I was talking about, not entirely unusual. This surprised me nevertheless because I’d known it since fourth grade. It was included on a book of tunes that our music teacher, Mrs. Joseph, had us singing from. I must admit it was an old book even then. (I swear I bought a replica of this book in the last decade, but I simply cannot find it.)

There appears to be no question that Robert Burns wrote the poem Sweet Afton. “There is a small river, Afton, that falls into the Nith, near New Cumnock [in Scotland], which has some charming, wild, romantic scenery on its banks.”

The first verse:

FLOW gently, sweet Afton, among thy green braes,
Flow gently, I ’ll sing thee a song in thy praise;
My Mary ’s asleep by thy murmuring stream,
Flow gently, sweet Afton, disturb not her dream.

And I’ve also heard it with a tune by William James Kirkpatrick from late in the 19th century. It is a hymn tune called Cradle Song, which is a variant tune to the Christmas hymn Away in the Manger.

Now I have no idea which version I originally learned because these three not dissimilar tunes are all blurring in my head. And there are other tunes which may predate Spilman.

I’m curious: are you familiar with the poem Flow gently sweet Afton? And how’s your Scottish brogue when you recite it? What tune do you associate with it?

Listen to Sweet Afton:

Jo Stafford

Nelson Eddy

a Livervox recording

accordion player named Glenn

Nickel Creek

Contact me
  • E-mail Contact E-mail
  • RSS Feed Blog content c 2005-2018, Roger Green, unless otherwise stated. Quotes used per fair use. Some content, including many graphics, in the public domain.
I Actually Know These Folks
I contribute to these blogs
Other people's blogs
Politics
Popular culture
Useful stuff
April 2018
S M T W T F S
« Mar    
1234567
891011121314
15161718192021
22232425262728
2930  
Archives
blogoversary
Get your own free Blogoversary button!
Networked Blogs
Counter
wordpress analytics