Meaning of The Parting Glass song

Many peoples have a tradition of performing special farewell songs when the time comes to part with relatives and friends. Such compositions can be performed at the end of fun parties, before a long trip, and even at a funeral.

In Ireland and Scotland for several centuries, a similar song has been “The Parting Glass” (“A glass of farewell”, or, as we say, “on the staff”). For some time now, it has been overshadowed by the more popular “Auld Lang Syne”, but “The Parting Glass” is not forgotten in English-speaking countries either.

This sad and at the same time inspiring song, which both the Irish and the Scots consider their own, was known as early as the beginning of the seventeenth century. The author of “The Parting Glass” is unknown, so the composition is considered folk. Its lyrics are partly used in the farewell poem “Armstrong’s Goodnight”. It was written in 1605 by one of the Armstrongs convicted of murder.

At the end of the eighteenth century, the song was often published in printed form, and many copies of that time have been preserved in various libraries. Often the composition was called “Goodnight and Joy Be with You All” (after the last line of verses). The first book to mention “The Parting Glass” was “Scots Musical Museum”, dated 1803. Scottish violinist Neil Gow later published the sheet music, signing it with the following comment: “This melody is played at the end of all festive dances throughout Scotland.”

Everyone is free to interpret the meaning of the song “The Parting Glass” in their own way, although it is obvious that it is performed on behalf of a sociable man who is forced – due to unknown circumstances – to leave and leave his friends. He regrets that he cannot be with them longer and offers to drink on the road.

The modern history of the song “The Parting Glass” is successfully developed thanks to the folk group The Clancy Brothers. Their version of the song was included on Come Fill You Glass with Us (1959), an album of Irish drinking songs. Of course, “The Parting Glass” became the final track of the record.

Later it was performed by The Dubliners, The Pogues, Sinead O’Connor, Kara Dillon, Ed Sheeran and others.

Interesting Facts

  • “The Parting Glass” is featured on The Walking Dead. In the third season, the characters of the film perform the song near the campfire. The song is also featured on the official soundtrack.

  • “The Parting Glass” can be heard in the computer game “Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag”.

The Parting Glass lyrics

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

Oh, all the comrades e’er I had,
They’re sorry for my going away,
And all the sweethearts e’er I had,
They’d wish me one more day to stay
But since it falls unto my lot,
That I should rise and you should not,
I gently rise and softly call
That I should go and you should not
Good night and joy be with you all.

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
But since it has so ought to be
By a time to rise and a time to fall
Come fill me the parting glass
Goodnight and joy be with you all
Goodnight and joy be with you all

“The Parting Glass” lyrics

All the money that I had
I spent in good company
And all the harm that I brought
Alas, turned only against me
And all the stupid things I’ve done
Now I don’t remember
So pour me a glass on the staff
Good night and fun everyone

Oh all my friends
Regret that I’m leaving
And all my lovers
They want me to stay just one more day
But since I’ve been drawn
Leave and you stay
I will calmly get up and quietly declare
That I have to go and you don’t
Good night and fun everyone

A man can drink and not get drunk,
A man can fight and survive
A man can court a pretty girl
And he may be eagerly awaited back
But since it’s destined
Rise at times and fall at times
Come on, pour me a glass on the staff
Good night and fun everyone
Good night and fun everyone

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