This ballad begins: 'O CALEDON, O CALEDON, / How wretch is thy Fate, / I, thy St. ANDREW do lament, / Thy poor abandon'd State.' The text preceding it reads: 'An Excellent new / SONG / To the Tune of, OLD LONG SYNE.'
There are other broadsides in the National Library of Scotland's collection which carry various versions of the lyrics to 'Old Long Syne'. The tune, however, is rarely given and thus must have been well-known at the time. This would be typical of a oral based tradition such as folksongs. There are a few versions of the melody 'Old Long Syne' but there is debate over whether the very first tune written down in 1700, was English or not. There are other copies, of both tune and lyrics, held in the National Library of Scotland's collection.
Early ballads were dramatic or humorous narrative songs derived from folk culture that predated printing. Originally perpetuated by word of mouth, many ballads survive because they were recorded on broadsides. Musical notation was rarely printed, as tunes were usually established favourites. The term 'ballad' eventually applied more broadly to any kind of topical or popular verse.
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Probable date of publication:
1746 shelfmark: Ry.III.a.10(071)
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