Preab san ól
Music: Trad. arr. Peter Hill
. Words: R Bairéid, trans. D O'Sullivan
performance time approx 2m 15s
Range S: c' – d'' / A: b♭ – c'' / T: c – d' / B: G – c'
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Hear a performance
of Preab san ól
This is a rollicking drinking song from Ireland, and makes a great final number or encore. The tune is very catchy, and there's lots of rhyming, which makes it easy to swing the piece along from phrase to phrase. The words should be heartfelt and the tone need not be too ‘nice’. This is a song in praise of the pleasures of life, and to hell with the toil or trouble.
Verse 2, arranged for tenor and bass on their own, can be taken either by two soloists or by the entire sections.
Verse 4 includes a simple descant.
The verse scansion is irregular, which takes getting used to, but the whole song is very singable by any moderately experienced choir.
Why spend your leisure bereft of pleasure?
Amassing treasure you'll scrape and save.
Why look so canny at ev'ry penny?
You'll take no money within the grave.
Landlords and gentry with all their plenty
Must still go empty where'er they're bound,
So to my thinking, we'd best be drinking,
Our glasses clinking on — another round.
The huxter greedy will grind the needy
Their straits unheeding, shouts: 'money down!'
His special vice is his fancy prices,
For a florin's value he'll charge a pound.
With hump for trammel, the scripture's camel
Missed the needle's eye and so came to ground
Why pine for riches when still you've stitches
To hold your britches up — another round.
The shipmen trading in Spain and Aden
Return well laden with oil and corn.
And from Gibraltar their course they'll alter
And steer for Malta and the Golden Horn.
With easy motion they sail life's ocean
With ne'er a notion they'll soon run aground,
So lads and lasses make all your passes
And fill your glasses for — another round.
King Solomon's glory, so famed in story,
Was far outshone by the lily's guise.
But cold winds harden both field and garden;
Pleading for pardon, the lily dies.
Life's but a bubble of toil and trouble,
A feathered arrow, once shot ne'er found.
It's nought but miming, so ends my rhyming
And still we've time in for — another round.
Original Irish words by Riocard Bairéid (Richard Barrett), an 18th-century schoolmaster from Co. Mayo in the west of Ireland.
English translation by Donal O'Sullivan
Despite extensive enquiries, we have been unable to trace who administers copyright for the late Dr Donal O'Sullivan's translation, and would welcome any information enabling us to do so.
Purchase – 2007: Preab san ól
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