The air of the song written by Matthew Birkhcad, and published in the Book of Constitutions of 1723, with the title of the Entered Prentice's Song, is familiarly and distinctively known as the Freemasons' Tune. William Chappell, in a work entitled Popular Music of the Olden Time, gives the following interesting account of it:
This tune was very popular at the time of the ballad operas, and I am informed that the same words are still sung to it at Masonic meetings. The air was introduced in The Village Opera The Chambermaid, The Lottery The Grub-Street Opera and The Lover his own Rival. It is contained in the third volume of The Dancing Master, and of Walsh's New Country Dancing Master. Words and music are included in Watt's Musical Miscellany (iii, page ~2)l and in British Melody or The Musical Magazine (folio 1739). They were also printed on broadsides.
In the Gentlemen s Magazine for October, 1731, the first stanza is printed as ad Health, by Mr. Birkhead. It seems to be there quoted from the Constitutions of the freemasons, by the Rev. James Anderson, A.M., one of the Worshipful Masters.
There are several versions of the tune. one in Pills to Purge Melancholy (1719, ii, page 230), has a second part but that being almost a repetition of the first taken an octave higher, is out of the compass of ordinary voices, and has therefore been generally rejected.
In A Complete Collection of Old and New English and Scotch Songs (1735 ii, page 172) the name is given as Ye Commoners and Peers; but Leveridge composed another tune to these words. In Tile Musical Mason, or Freemasons' Pocket Companion, being a collection of songs used in all Lodges, to which are added the Freemasons' March and Ode (1791), this is entitled The Entered Apprentice's Song. Many stanzas have been added from time to time, and others have been altered.
See Birkhead, Matthew; Entered Prentice's Song, and Songs of Freemasonry
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