I'm starting a collection here of interesting stories about the origins of traditional songs, or those songs thought to be traditional. I'll keep adding to it as I find more information. The songs available are:
Linn Schulz in Nottingham, New Hampshire, supplied the following article from the Glasgow Daily Record, date unknown, to the SCOTS-L mailing list:
by Stephen Houston
Millions of Scots have sung Mairi's Wedding. And now, thanks to the Record, they can meet the bride herself.
For one of our best-loved tunes was written for Mary McNiven.
And the OAP is still stepping gaily, even though she'll be NINETY tomorrow.
Scots schoolkids have been learning the song for generations, and it's a firm favourite all over the world.
At her cottage on Islay yesterday, Mary said: "I can't believe it became so popular. But when it was first played to me I found it very catchyand I still do."
The song was originally written in Gaelicthat's why she was "Mairi" instead of "Mary"for the Mod of 1935.
Her pal Johnny Bannerman composed it and it was first played to her at the Old Highlanders Institute in Glasgow's Elmbank Street.Medal
"I still have a clear recollection of that day," said Mary. "Johnny just said the song was for me."
It was translated into English a year later, by Sir Hugh Robertson.
Although Mary herself was real, the wedding wasn't. For she didn't get hitched to Skye-born sea captain John Campbell until six years later. John died 17 years ago.
Mum of two, Mary, who won a Mod gold medal for singing in 1934, will enjoy a family birthday party in Glasgow this weekend. And it won't be complete without the famous song.
Her daughter Christine, a teacher from Hyndland, Glasgow, said: "Mum still sometimes sings it in Gaelic and people are always asking her to. I suspect she'll sing it to celebrate her birthday."
(The article is accompanied by a photograph of Mary by William Thornton and a copy of her wedding picture.)
The tune for this song can be found in the Marjorie Kennedy-Fraser collection of music of the Hebrides, published in the early 20th century. It is untitled.
George Seto contacted me from Nova Scotia, where he has a nice collection of Gaelic songs, including the original words to Mairi's Wedding, which are reproduced below.Màiri Bhàn
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