The Londonderry Air is known far and wide as the tune to Danny Boy (words and arrangement by Fred Weatherly). But the origins of the melody are shrouded in time and before 1915, when Danny Boy was first recorded, The Londonderry Air was usually accompanied by these words:
Would God I were the tender apple blossom
That floats and falls from off the twisted bough,
To lie and faint within your silken bosom,
Within your silken bos’m as that does now!
Or would I were a little burnish’d apple
For you to pluck me, gliding by so cold,
While sun and shade your robe of lawn will dapple,
Your robe of lawn, and your hair’s spun gold.
Yea, would to God I were among the roses
That lean to kiss you as you float between,
While on the lowest branch a bud uncloses,
A bud uncloses, to touch you, queen.
Nay, since you will not love, would I were growing,
A happy daisy, in the garden path;
That so your silver foot might press me going,
Might press me going even unto death.
One final note about “Danny Boy”: the late, great Bing Crosby mis-sung a line when he recorded the song, and his version has been repeated by almost every recording artist since. The original words to the third line of Danny Boy are:
The summer’s gone, and all the roses falling …