Tune of the Day: The Boyne Water
The name of this tune commemorates the Battle of the Boyne (named for the Boyne River in County Meath, eastern Ireland), fought in 1690, in which the English monarch King William III defeated the Irish forces under King James II.
Some scholars believe that this tune was composed in the 17th century as a vocal air, rather than as an instrumental piece. However old it actually is in oral tradition, the earliest printed appearances of “Boyne Water” can be found in William Graham's Lute Book of 1694, as “Playing Amang the Rashes”. The melody remained in popular usage throughout the British Isles for well over two hundred years. Robert Burns set three songs to it, and Sir Thomas Moore used the melody for his circa 1825 song “As Vanquished Erin”. The air was also widespread in American usage, often heard as the tune the popular song “Barbara Allan” was sung to.