Sheet Music: The Little House Under the Hill

TitleThe Little House Under the Hill
Alternate titlesHow Happy the Soldier
The Poor Soldier
ComposerTraditional Irish
InstrumentationFlute solo
KeyD major
Time signature6/8
Tempo100 BPM
Performance time1:00
Difficulty levelintermediate
Download printable scorePDF Sheet Music (48 kB) (preview)
Download audio tracksMIDI (change tempo/key) MP3 (479 kB)
Date added2024-05-22
Last updated2024-05-22
Download popularity index☆☆☆☆☆ 0.6 (below average)
Jigs, Traditional/Folk


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Wednesday 22 May 2024

Tune of the Day: The Little House Under the Hill

Traditional Irish jig

Early-20th-century Chicago tune collector Francis O'Neill finds an “unmistakably” simple version of this jig under the title “Irish Air in The Poor Soldier”, published in The Hibernian Muse (1787). English composer William Shield employed the melody for his song “How Happy the Soldier”, part of the 1783 pasticcio opera The Poor Soldier.

The title appears in Henry Robson's list of popular Northumbrian song and dance tunes (The Northern Minstrel's Budget), published c. 1800, and the tune was included in a number of early-19th-century collections, such as O'Farrell's Pocket Companion for the Irish or Union Pipes, published in 1806.

It is worth noting that a short story by Irish writer William Carleton is called “The Three Tasks: Or, The Little House Under the Hill”, published in his Traits and Stories of the Irish Peasantry (1830). It tells the tale of Jack, who gambles with fairies for riches and loses; he forfeits his liberty and enters servitude in their castle. Jack manages to escape aided by a beautiful lady, whom he falls in love with. Alas, just as they are married Jack is awakened by his mother—it was a dream, and he has lost his bride, but finds the gold. Carleton writes:

In the coorse of time, a harper, hearing the story, composed a tune upon it, which every body knows is called “The Little House under the Hill” to this day, beginning with—

Hi for it, ho for it, hi for it still;
Och and whoo! your sowl—hi for the little house under the hill.