Tune of the Day: The Job of Journeywork
The first printed appearance of this tune seems to be in James Aird's Selection of Scotch, English Irish and Foreign Airs, vol. 3 (Glasgow, 1788). It is perhaps based on an older air called “My Wife She's Ta'en the Gee” (not to be confused with Nathaniel Gow's air of the same name).
Robert Burns notably used the tune for one of his songs appearing in the Scots Musical Museum, entitled “Here's His Health in Water”.
Samuel Bayard (1954) published a study of a tune family he called “The Job of Journeywork”, evidently feeling that “this long, irregular tune developed by the eighteenth century Irish dancing masters was somehow archetypical” (Cowdery, 1990). The second strain of the melody has been the one which has spawned the most variants, and according to Tomás Ó Canainn (1978) it is one of the “standard building blocks” of the Irish melodic tradition.