10 March 2016
While examining copies of Moore’s National Airs extant in Special Collections at the McClay Library, QUB, I was amazed at the number of different countries and cultures which inspired the poet-songwriter. The song series includes airs from Spain, India, Hungary, Russia, Denmark and Malta. There are 12 songs in each of the 6 Numbers. That makes a total of 72 songs in the National Airs series. Slumber, Oh! Slumber from Number 5 is one of only two songs in the whole series where the origin of the air is not identified. The song is in the key of B flat major, set in 2/4 time and has two verses. The singer begins in bar 11 after a 10 bar piano introduction. The two verses are divided by a 6 bar piano interlude. I’ve transcribed the words below:
“Slumber, oh! Slumber if, sleeping thou mak’st
My heart beat so wildly, I’m lost, when thou wak’st!
Thus sung I to a maiden, Who slept one summer’s day,
And like a flow’r o’er laden With noontide sunshine, lay.
Breathe not, oh, breathe not, ye winds, o’er her cheeks,
If mute thus she charm me, I’m lost when she speaks.
Thus sing I, while awaking, She murmurs words, that seems,
As if her lips were taking Farewell of some sweet dream.”
Perhaps some of our readers might know the origin of the air.
Let us know in the comments.
Image Courtesy of Special Collections, The McClay Library, Queen’s University Belfast