I'll Never Leave Thee
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Lesley Nelson-Burns


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This air is based on a much older one of the same name. The Chronicle of Scottish Poetry states the original air was meant to be sung to one of Wedderburne's Spiritual Ballads (written before 1549). That ballad begins:

Ah! my love! leif me not!
Leif me not! leif me not!
Ah! my love, leif me not,
Thus mine alone!*

This is unsubstantiated. However, the tune mentioned in the Chronicle is identical to a tune in Geddes' Saint's Recreation (1673) which was sung to a popular song of the time with the chorus of:

Leave thee, leave thee lad,
I'll never leave thee.
Gang a' the warld as it will,
I'll never leave thee.**

Several other words have been set to the tune.

This version of the air was taken from Francis Peacock's Fifty Favourite Scottish Airs (1776). These words were rewritten in 1856 to better fit that tune.*

Peacock was a dancing-master in Aberdeen, and reported to play the violin and violoncello.*

Why should thy cheek be pale,
Shaded with sorrow's veil?
Why should'st thou grieve me?
I will never, never leave thee.
'Mid my deepest sadness,
'Mid my gayest gladness,
I am thine, believe me;
I will never, never leave thee.

Life's storms may rudely blow,
Laying hope and pleasure low:
I'd ne'er deceive thee;
I could never, never leave thee.
Ne'er till my cheek grow pale,
And my heart pulses fail,
And my last breath grieve thee.
Can I ever, ever leave thee!

From *The Songs of Scotland (George Farquhar Graham)
and The Scots Musical Museum
See Bibliography for full information.