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This song of love and heartbreak is based on a real parting between Robert Burns and Agnes MacLehose, a woman who was married but had separated from her husband. Burns and MacLehose were never lovers, but corresponded intimately, using the pen-names Clarinda and Sylvander. Burns sent the poem to MacLehose in 1791, shortly before she left for the West Indies. As it happens, she returned to Scotland six months later, but the two never met again.
Frances Cockburn's gorgeous setting uses three different harmonisations, featuring many 2nds and 9ths that add a little dissonant spice and pain to the love story. A soloist sings the first verse.
For use by a women's choir, consider changing the pronouns in the first two lines of verse 2, to portray a woman left by a man rather than vice versa.
Glossary and pronunciation guide included.
Ae fond kiss, and then we sever![one] Ae fareweel, and then for ever![farewell] Deep in heart-wrung tears I'll pledge thee, Warring sighs and groans I'll wage thee!
Who shall say that fortune grieves him While the star of hope she leaves him? Me, nae chearfu' twinkle lights me;[no cheerful] Dark despair around benights me.
Had we never lov'd sae kindly,[so] Had we never lov'd sae blindly, Never met - or never parted, We had ne'er been broken-hearted.
Fare thee weel, thou first and fairest! [well] Fare thee weel, thou best and dearest! Thine be ilka joy and treasure,[every] Peace, Enjoyment, Love, and Pleasure!
Purchase – 1050: Ae fond kiss (SSAA)
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