Rosabelle (John Wall Callcott)

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  • (Posted 2008-04-26)  CPDL #16740:        (Sibelius 5)
Editor: Jonathan Goodliffe (submitted 2008-04-26).   Score information: A4, 6 pages, 82 kB   Copyright: CPDL
Edition notes: Callcott changes Scott's "Ravensheuch" to "Ravenshew" and "firth" to "wave" in the second stanza. Scott's original text has been restored in this edition. Corrected 2008-04-27.

General Information

Title: Rosabelle
Composer: John Wall Callcott
Lyricist: Walter Scott

Number of voices: 3vv   Voicing: SSB
Genre: SecularGlee

Language: English
Instruments: A cappella (originally). Piano accompaniment added by William Horsley.

First published:
Description: A 3 part glee. Callcott only explicitly set 5 of the 13 stanzas of Sir Walter Scott’s poem to his music. There is a resulting loss of continuity and of the thread of the poem. Perhaps he contemplated that some or all of the other stanzas might be sung by way of repeats. The third stanza of the poem, "The blackening wave …" fits well (with minor alteration to the text) within bars 22 to 46. Other parts of the poem, however, are less easy to set to Callcott's music.

External websites:

Original text and translations

English.png English text

Note: sections of the text not set to music in this composition are in square brackets

Canto 6 Section XXIII of “The Lay of the Last Minstrel”
by Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832)

O listen, ladies gay!
No haughty feat of arms I tell;
Soft is the note and sad the lay
That mourns the lovely Rosabelle.

"Moor, moor the barge, ye gallant crew!
And, gentle ladye, deign to stay!
Rest thee in Castle Ravensheuch,
Nor tempt the stormy firth to-day.

["The blackening wave is edged with white;
To inch and rock the sea-mews fly;
The fishers have heard the water-sprite,
Whose screams forebode that wreck is nigh.

"Last night the gifted Seer did view
A wet shroud swathed round ladye gay;
Then stay thee, Fair, in Ravensheuch;
Why cross the gloomy firth to-day?"

"'Tis not because Lord Lindesay's heir
To-night at Roslin leads the ball,
But that my ladye-mother there
Sits lonely in her castle-hall.

"'Tis not because the ring they ride,
And Lindesay at the ring rides well,
But that my sire the wine will chide
If 'tis not fill'd by Rosabelle."]

O'er Roslin all that dreary night
A wondrous blaze was seen to gleam;
'Twas broader than the watch-fire's light,
And redder than the bright moonbeam.

[It glared on Roslin's castled rock,
It ruddied all the copsewood glen;
'Twas seen from Dryden's groves of oak,
And seen from cavern'd Hawthornden.

Seem'd all on fire that chapel proud
Where Roslin's chiefs uncoffin'd lie,
Each baron, for a sable shroud,
Sheath'd in his iron panoply.

Seem'd all on fire within, around,
Deep sacristy and altar's pale;
Shone every pillar foliage-bound,
And glimmer'd all the dead men's mail.

Blazed battlement and pinnet high,
Blazed every rose-carved buttress fair
So still they blaze, when fate is nigh
The lordly line of high Saint Clair.]

There are twenty of Roslin's barons bold
Lie buried within that proud chapelle;
Each one the holy vault doth hold
But the sea holds lovely Rosabelle.

And each Saint Clair was buried there,
With candle, with book, and with knell;
But the sea-caves rung and the wild winds sung
The dirge of lovely Rosabelle.