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Emma 3

This is the song Jane and Frank sing together at Randalls. In this adaptation, the Randalls evening replaces the scenes that took place at the Coles' party in the novel.

Emma 3 Music: Over the Hills and Far Away

When you're finished here, you may want to go back to the Emma 3 music page.

The tune was first used in George Farquhar's play The Recruiting Officer, which opened in London in 1706. It was often used in the late 18th century - in English ballad operas and broadsides - and as late as 1853 as a cotillion published in New York. This version is from Act 1 of John Gay's The Beggar's Opera, 1728. It was sung by the characters Polly and MacHeath (who is, of course, the forerunner of "Mac the Knife"...see below).

Were I laid on Greenland's Coast,
And in my Arms embrac'd my Lass;
Warm amidst eternal Frost,
Too soon the Half Year's Night would pass.
Were I sold on Indian Soil,
Soon as the burning Day was clos'd,
I could mock the sultry Toil
When on my Charmer's Breast repos'd.

MACHEATH

And I would love you all the Day,

POLLY

Every Night would kiss and play,

MACHEATH

If with me you'd fondly stray

POLLY

Over the Hills and far away.

Lyrics to a popular ballad form of the tune also exist. The chorus goes:

O'er the hills and o'er the main
To Flanders, Portugal and Spain
Queen Anne commands and we obey
Over the hills and far away.

There was also a dance that went along with the tune, which was first published in one of the 1713 volumes of John Playford's Dancing Master as "Twas O'er the Hills." Here is a description of that dance:

The 1st Man and and his Partner cross over the 2d Couple and turn
Then cross over the 3d Couple and turn
Then lead up the Top, and cast off, and then right Hand and left quite round
Then lead thro' the 3d Couple and cast up and turn you Partner.

Odd side note: Kurt Weill's and Bertolt Brecht's German Threepenny Opera was based on The Beggar's Opera. The "hero" of their play, "Mack the Knife," was inspired by John Gay's MacHeath (Mackie Messer is a lot less...nice than Gay's MacHeath, though). And yes, the Louis Armstrong/BobbyDarin/Everybodyandtheirmamas song comes from Threepenny! Read more...