The Meeting of the Waters: BL and other sources

In relation to project ERIN, the British Library possesses one of the largest, and most significant, collections of sources for Moore’s work ( The range of sources includes complete runs of the Irish Melodies Numbers 1-10; complete runs of the National Airs Numbers 1-6 and a large selection of songs, operas and ballets based on Lalla Rookh. Contained in the BL’s collection are five different editions of The Meeting of the Waters.  These include two publications edited by Professor Clare (one dates from 1859 and the other was published in 1868 by Holdernesse), an edition published by Williams in 1859/60, an arrangement for two voices by Frank Romer published by Leader & Cocks in 1860 and an 1872 edition published by George Bell. All of the aforementioned editions were published in London.

The collection at the BL also includes earlier editions of the song published by James Power (London), William Power (Dublin) and Addison & Hodson (London); the dates of publication for these editions range from 1820 to 1845. James Power editions of the song are present in the collections at the National Library, Dublin and Special Collections at McClay Library QUB. Also at the National Library is a William Power edition of the song and an arrangement for two voices by W. H. Montgomery which was published by C. Sherard at the Musical Bouquet Office in London circa 1855.

The Meeting of the Waters
The Meeting of the Waters

The existence of these editions and arrangements illustrates Moore’s influence on nineteenth-century composers, arrangers and publishers over the course of a 64 year period (1808-1872) while also highlighting the song’s popularity. The Meeting of the Waters is one of the better known Irish Melodies and appeared in the First Number published in April 1808. The following quote is taken from a footnote included by Moore in an early Power edition.

“The Meeting of the Waters” forms a part of that beautiful scenery which lies between Rathdrum and Arklow, in the county of Wicklow, and these lines were suggested by a visit to this romantic spot, in the summer of the year, 1807.”

The image above was taken from “Moore’s Irish Melodies: Lalla Rookh; National Airs; Legendary Ballads; Songs, &c with a memoir by J.F. Waller, LL.D.” The illustration perfectly depicts the picturesque imagery conjured up by Moore’s descriptive lyrics.

Image Courtesy of Special Collections, McClay Library, Queen’s University Belfast

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