Tune of the Day: The Lass of Patie's Mill
Patie's mill stood on the banks of the river Irvine, which flows into the sea north of Ayr, Scotland. The poet Allan Ramsay, walking near the mill with his friend the Earl of Loudoun, had his attention drawn to “a rustic girl of uncommon beauty” spreading hay in a nearby field. His lordship observed that the girl would make a fine subject for a song, and within hours the poem was completed.
The melody, which is believed to date from the middle of the 16th century, was first published in Orpheus Caledonius (1725). In his Caledonian Companion (1743), James Oswald, on dangerously slender evidence, identifies the composer as the Italian David Rizzio, Mary Queen of Scots' secretary, music-master, valet de chambre, and perhaps lover, who was brutally done to death in Holyrood Palace in 1566 (his bloodstains are still shown to visitors by helpful guides). Although this is not verified, the tune has a definite Italian flavor.
The song was heard parodied in John Gay's 1729 The Beggar's Opera, under the title “I like the fox shall grieve”. In Ireland, the tune was adapted, re-titled to “Carolan's Cap”, and attributed to the famous Irish harper Turlough O'Carolan (1670–1734).
Thanks to Phil for suggesting this tune!