Joseph Corfe (arr.)
(1740 - 1820)

The Maid of Selma
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Corfe, organist of Salisbury Cathedral, 1792 - 1804, issued two sets of "Twelve glees.... composed from ancient Scotch melodies" in the early 1790s, to satisfy two contemporary enthusiasms: that for mixed sex social music, and that for all things North-British. The current arrangement comes from the first set.

These glees were selected from a repertoire of well-known Scottish songs that had been anthologised in the previous seventy years. Corfe appears to have been particularly indebted for source material to James Johnson's "Scots Musical Museum", Edinburgh 1787, which included texts edited and improved by Robert Burns.
Lyrics: Ossian (James MacPherson)

In the hall I lay in night,
Mine eyes half-closed with sleep;
Soft music came to my ear;
It was the maid of Selma.
Her neck was as white as the bosom of a swan,
Trembling on swift rolling waves;
She raised the nightly song,
For she knew that my soul was a stream
That flowed at pleasant sounds.
Mixed with the harp arose her voice;
She came o'er my troubled soul
Like a beam on the dark, heaving ocean,
When it bursts from a cloud and brightens
The foaming side of a wave;
'Twas like the mem'ry of joys that are past,
Pleasant and mournful to the soul.