At 50th street station in NYC. I just returned from a lovely three day run at the Irish Arts Center in Hell's Kitchen culminating in a collaboration with Tatiana Hargreaves and Allison de Groot in celebration of the release of their terrific new disc Hurricane Clarice. I look forward to more opportunities to play together, which looks likely.
I have a long relationship with this song, starting with the flea market discovery of Amelia Clarke's copy of the 1848 American Vocalist over 30 years ago which I've written about at length elsewhere. (In multiple liner notes, a performance piece and especially in my PhD dissertation). This was a favorite of hers, and the title track of an unreleased album I recorded with my shape note singing friends Northampton Harmony in 1997 in the church in Searsmont Maine where Daniel Mansfield was preaching when he put the book together. Many long stories later, I wasn't able to make any shapenote tunes for about 26 years until the last couple of months. I don't really know why, although I have some ideas. The main thing is, it's done and I included it at the end in case you want to sing the other parts.
The air is Keyes, which I've never seen anywhere else. Mansfield had relatives of that name, so it may be his tune, or maybe one of theirs. I've never really chased it down, despite the years of research I devoted to the book and the people around it. It may be partly that I'm so attached to the song that I'm not as concerned about its external particulars.
The words are Thomas Moore's, and I think they're among his best.