The Girl I Left Behind Me
Version 1
Download Midi 1
Barry Taylor

Download Midi 2
John Renfro Davis

Much folklore has arisen regarding this tune. One source states the tune was popular as far back as Queen Elizabeth's (Elizabeth I) reign and was played whenever a regiment left town or a man-of-war set sail. Another theory is that the tune originated in 1758 when Admiral's Hawke and Rodney were watching the French fleet off the coast.*

Theodore Ralph writes that the tune was known in America as early as 1650 and indicates it was a traditional fife tune, imported from England as Brighten Camp. The tune became generally popular during the Revolution.

The tune was known in Ireland as The Rambling Laborer and The Spailpin Fanach and was first published in Dublin in 1791.

See the link to Bruce Olsen's site for information regarding the tune's origin.

These words are from an unnamed album I checked out of a library long years ago. There is another version of the lyrics at The Girl I Left Behind Me (2).

The tune was also used for lyrics to a drinking song, Waxie's Dargle.

There are several more versions at the Digital Tradition Folk Song Search.

I'm lonesome since I crossed the hill,
And o'er the moorland sedgy
Such heavy thoughts my heart do fill,
Since parting with my Betsey
I seek for one as fair and gay,
But find none to remind me
How sweet the hours I passed away,
With the girl I left behind me.

O ne'er shall I foget the night,
the stars were bright above me
And gently lent their silv'ry light
when first she vowed to love me
But now I'm bound to Brighton camp
kind heaven then pray guide me
And send me safely back again,
to the girl I left behind me

Her golden hair in ringlets fair,
her eyes like diamonds shining
Her slender waist, her heavenly face,
that leaves my heart still pining
Ye gods above oh hear my prayer
to my beauteous fair to find me
And send me safely back again,
to the girl I left behind me

The bee shall honey taste no more,
the dove become a ranger
The falling waters cease to roar,
ere I shall seek to change her
The vows we made to heav'n above
shall ever cheer and bind me
In constancy to her I love,
the girl I left behind me.
Related Links
The American Song Treasury and
Best Loved Songs of The American People and
*Folk Songs of Old New England
See Bibliography for full information.