Sunday, October 11, 2015

"Orra Moor" - A Song from Lapland in England and Germany

I must admit that until recently I was not familiar with the strange story of the joik from Lapland, published in Latin in 1673, that ended up as an interpolated song in a revival of Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice 70 years later. Besides that it also caught the interest of notable scholars and poets both in Germany and England and not at least was set to new music more than half a dozen times. 

1673 was the year Johannes Scheffer (1621-1679), professor in Uppsala and one of the most respected scholars of his time, published his Lapponia, the most comprehensive and informative treatise so far about Lapland, written on behalf of the Swedish chancellor who wanted to know a little bit more about this rather unknown part of his King's empire (see Die Nordlichtroute, UB Trömso, 1999): 
  • Joannis Schefferi Argentoratensis Lapponia Id est, Regionis Lapponum Et Gentis Novaet Verissima Descriptio. In qua multa De origine, superstitione, sacris magicis, victu, cultu, negotiis Lapponum, item Animaliuum, metallorumque indole quae in terris eorum proveniunt, hactenus incognita Poroduntur, & eiconibus adjectis cum cura illustrantur, Francifurti, Ex Officina Christiani Wolffi, 1673 (at the Internet Archive [= BSB]; at the Internet Archive [= BHL] ) 
Of course this was written in Latin but his work very quickly found a wider readership. Reports and ethnographies about exotic places, not only those on the other side of the world but also the European periphery, were very popular. This book, about the mysterious land in the North, according to Shakespeare - in The Comedy of Errors 4.3 - and Milton - in Paradise Lost, Book 2 - inhabited by sorcerers and witches - in fact the Lapland witches were at that time a well known literary motif (see Page, 1962-63; Moyne 1981, pp. 13-69, Wretö, p. 23) - was immediately translated into English and German: 
  • The History of Lapland Wherein Are shewed the Original, Manners, Habits, Marriages, Conjurations, &c. of that people. Written by John Scheffer, Professor of Law and Rhetoric at Upsal in Sweden, At the Theater in Oxford, George West & Amos Curtein, 1674 (ESTC R8773; at the Internet Archive [= NB, Oslo], at the Internet Archive [= GRI], at
  • Johannes Schefferi von Straßburg, Lappland, Das ist: Neue und wahrhaftige Beschreibung von Lappland und dessen Einwohners worin viel bißhero unbekandte Sachen von der Lappen Ankunft, Aberglauben, Zauberkünsten, Nahrung, Kleidern, Geschäfften wie auch von den Thieren und Metallen so es in ihrem Lande giebet erzählet und unterschiedlichen Figuren fürgestellet werden, Franckfurt am Mayn und Leipzig, 1675 (available at the Internet Archive [= JCBL]) 
French and Dutch translations followed soon (1678, 1682) and an extended English edition appeared in 1704 (ESTC T146952; at the Internet Archive [= JCBL], at

Most interesting for the readers at that time was surely the chapter about magical practices and ceremonies, "De sacris magicis & magia Lapponum" (pp. 119-139, Engl. ed. pp. 45-60). But more important in a wider perspective was chapter 25, "De Sponsaliis & Nuptiis Lapponum", because it included two "cantiones nuptiales" in Saami language and Latin translation (pp. 282-5).

According to Scheffer these were songs a groom sings when he "makes a visit to his Mistress, to whom while he is travelling he solaces himself with a Love Song, and diverts the wearisomness of his journey". The first one was to "incourage their Raindeers to travel nimbly along" on the way to their bride and the other one "they use too at other times to entertain themselves with such Sonnets, when at some distance from their Mistresses, and therein to make mention of them, and extoll their beauty" (quoted from the Engl. ed., pp. 111-5). 

Prof. Scheffer was of course never in Lapland and he didn't know the language. His informant was one Olaus Sirma, a young man from Lapland who studied theology in Uppsala (see Kelletat, pp. 141-4 ; Wretö, pp. 24-6, Winkler, pp. 131-2). Sirma supplied him with the original text - which he then reprinted, but with many errors - and a Swedish translation which was the basis for the Latin text. The original manuscripts have been discovered in 1888 (see Setälä 1889, pp. 108-18; reproduced in Kelletat 1982, pp. 108-10 & p. 126; see the detailed discussion in Kelletat 1984, pp. 141-53). Sirma also gave some explanations about the performance context and the music of these songs, but Scheffer only included parts of it (see Winkler, p. 146): 
"And 'tis their common custom to use such kind of songs, not with any set tune, but such as every one thinks best himself, not in the same manner, but sometimes one way, sometimes another, as goes best to every man, when he is in the mode of singing" (Engl. ed., pp. 113-4).
"These Sonnets the Laplanders call Moursefaurog, i. e. Marriage Songs, which [...] was not sung to any certain Tune, but at their own Pleasure. The Songs, says the Beforementioned Olaus, they sing sometimes entire, sometimes piece meal, or with some variations; if they fancy they can mend it, sometimes they repeat one Song over and over. Neither keep they to any certain Tune, but every one sings the Moursefaurog, or Marriage Song according to his own way and good liking" (not in the 1st Engl. ed., here from the 2nd, 1704, p. 288; see also German ed., pp. 321-2).
These explanations have led most scholars to assume that these were joiks, a genre completely foreign to Western literary tradition and very difficult to translate, no stable songs with stable tunes in our sense but spontaneously improvised "role poems" (see Kelletat 1984, pp. 149-52, quote p. 151; for more about this genre see also Fhlaithbheartaig 2015, at; the first collection: Launis 1908, at the Internet Archive; but see also Bartens 1994, pp. 56-62; Winkler 1996, pp. 133-5, who see these pieces not as joiks but as relics of an archaic Northern Eurasian song tradition).

But as far as I can see it is not clear if Sirma's Saami texts really represent "authentic" performances and how much they deviate from what was common. Nor do we know if he had created these pieces himself - he surely was familiar with the genre rules - or if he had simply tried to recreate what he once had heard at home (see Wretö, pp. 34-5; also Winkler, p. 133). At least his own Swedish translations already show in parts an adjustment to European literary conventions or to what young Olaus Sirma - a "man between two cultures" (Kelletat 1984, p. 143, see also Bartens 1994, p. 61) - maybe thought the Swedish professor wanted to hear (see f. ex. Kelletat 1984, pp. 144-8).

Scheffer's Latin texts - the starting-point for all later translations and adaptations - were then of course at least two or three steps away from original Saami song tradition and the German (pp. 319-21) and English (pp. 112-5) editions of the Lapponia added one more layer with their respective translations. The English translator even tried his hand at versified versions: 
Kulnasatz my Rain-deer
We have a long journey to go,
The Moor's are vast,
And we must hast,
Our strength I fear
Will fail if we are slow,
And so
Our Songs will do.

With brightest beams let the Sun shine
On Orra Moor,
Could I be sure,
That from the top o'th lofty Pine,
I Orra Moor might see,
I to his highest bow would climb,
And with industrious labor try,
Thence to descry
My Mistress, of that there she be.
Here these "songs" were already completely adapted to European literary conventions and taste. They had become typical love poems that were in content, style and form far away from what may have been their original shape. Only the "Rain-deer" respectively "Orra Moor" - the lake - remained to signify the exotic background. 

This idealized image of Lapp poetry of course led to some disappointments among later travelers. When Giusseppe Acerbi from Italy and the Swedish Colonel Skjöldebrand - who both surely were familiar with Scheffer's Lapponia - went to Lapland in 1799 they looked out for these kind of songs, but - naturally - couldn't find any: 
"Some very pleasing love songs have been attributed to the Laplanders, and I will not dispute the fact; but I can assert that all those we asked for such knew of none" (Skjöldebrand 1813, p. 170; see first Swedish ed., in French, Stockholm 1801, p. 40, at the Internet Archive). 
What they heard didn't impress them, like the "barbarous air" that could only be noted with "much trouble [...] the Laplanders of these countries have no other" (dto.; see also Acerbi 1802, pp. 66-7).


It was the song referring to "Orra moor" that became very popular in Germany and England during the 18th century. Poets created new adaptations (see the overviews by Farley 1908, at the Internet Archive & Wright 1918, at the Internet Archive, Kelletat 1984, p. 180) and composers wrote new musical settings. Scholars of "national songs" and "Volkslieder" used it as an example of poetry and song by an exotic people. Scheffer's Lapponia became an important reference point and source for Herder and his colleagues like other classics of this genre: the two Brazilian songs in Montaigne's essay No. 30, De Cannibales (1590, here pp. 323-5), Carcilasso De la Vega's Comentarios Reales with the famous Peruvian text (1609, p. 53), the songs of Canadian natives in Sagard's Le Grand Voyage Du Pays Des Hurons (1632, here in Histoire du Canada, 1636, pp. 310ff) and - to take one European example - the Estonian song in Kelch's Liefländischer Historia (1695, pp. 14-5). 

The first new German translation as well as a poetological analysis appeared in 1682 in Daniel Georg Morhof's Unterricht von der Teutschen Sprache und Poesie (here new edition, 1700, pp. 378-9; see Kelletat 1984, pp. 153-6, Wretö, pp. 38-9). Morhof's book was an early and very influential attempt at a history of German and European literature. We find his discussion of this song in the chapter about Nordic literature, besides am equally exotic Finnish song. In this context he also presented the above-mentioned Peruvian song. He can be seen as an early progenitor of later scholars of "popular poetry". Herder knew his work very well.
In England it lasted a little bit longer and only in 1712 a new adaptation was published in Joseph Addison's Spectator, a short-lived, but very influential periodical (No. 366, April 30, here in a later edition, Dublin 1739, pp. 183-5). Addison himself had already written groundbreaking articles about old English ballads (1711, Nos. 70 & 74, here in a later ed., pp. 283-289, pp. 301-307). Therefore it is no wonder that foreign and exotic "popular poetry" also found a place in his paper. This adaptation was most likely created by Sir Richards Steele (1672-1729), co-editor of the Spectator. He introduced one significant variation: "Orra Moor", the name of the lake, mutated into a girl's name: 
I. Thou rising Sun, whose gladsome Ray
Invites my Fair to Rural Play,
Dispel the Mist, and clear the Skies,
And bring my Orra to my Eyes.

II. Oh! were I sure my Dear to view,
I'd climb that Pine-Trees topmost Bough,
Aloft in Air that quivering plays,
And round and round for ever gaze.

III. My Orra Moor, where art thou laid?
What Wood conceals my sleeping Maid?
Fast by the Roots enrag'd I'll tear
The Trees that hide my promised Fair.

IV. Oh! I cou'd ride the Clouds and Skies,
Or on the Raven's Pinions rise:
Ye Storks, ye Swans, a moment stay,
And waft a Lover on his Way.

V. My Bliss too long my Bride denies,
Apace the wasting Summer flies:
Nor yet the wintry Blasts I fear,
Not Storms or Night shall keep me here.

VI. What may for Strength with Steel compare?
Oh! Love has Fetters stronger far:
By Bolts of Steel are Limbs confin'd,
But cruel Love enchains the Mind.

VII. No longer then perplex thy Breast,
When Thoughts torment, the first are best;
'Tis mad to go, 'tis Death to stay,
Away to Orra, haste away. 
The introductory remarks sound very strange. Apparently he didn't expect the people in the cold North to produce this kind of love-song: 
"I was agreeable surpriz'd to find a Spirit of Tenderness and poetry in a Region which I never suspected of such Delicacy [...] But a Lapland Lyric breathing Sentiments of Love and Poetry, not unworthy old Greece and Rome; a regular Ode from a Climate pinched with Frost, and cursed with Darkness so great a part of the year [...] thus, I confess, seemed a greater Miracle to me than the famous Stories of their Drums, their Winds, and Inchantments [...]" 
On June 16 the Spectator also published a translation of the "Reindeer-song" (No. 406, here in a later ed., pp. 45-6). But it seems that not every reader was happy with these pieces. Some weeks later a correspondent reported that "some men, otherwise of sense" thought him "mad in affirming, that fine odes have been written in Lapland" (No. 432, July 16, in a later ed., p. 144). 

There was one more translation, this time by Elizabeth Rowe (1674-1736), a popular poet and writer. Her attempt was published only posthumously in 1739 as "A Laplander's Song to his Mistress" in her Miscellaneous Works in Prose and Verse (Vol. 1, pp. 92-3). 
But it was the Spectator's version that remained available for the rest of the century. Not only was Addison's paper regularly reprinted and published again but the song also appeared in a great number of other publications (see also Farley, pp. 11-17). We find it for example in songsters, popular and cheap collections of song texts like The Merry Companion (1742, pp. 133-4), The Aviary: Or, Magazine of British Melody (c. 1745, p. 511), The Charmer. A Choice Collection of Songs, Scots and English (3rd ed., 1765, pp. 11-2) or The Blackbird (1783, pp. 97-8), in collections of poetry like James Thomson's Poetical Anthology (1783, No. XXVIII, pp. 194-5), the Extracts, Elegant, Instructive, and Entertainong for young readers (1791, Book 5, § 26, p. 356) and the Beauties of British Poetry (1801, pp. 275-6) and also in scholarly works: Hugh Blair cited the original Latin text from Scheffer's Lapponia and referred to the Spectator in his Critical Dissertation on the Poems of Ossian (1763, pp. 13-4); Joseph Ritson included Steele's text in his Select Collection of English Songs (Vol. 1, 1783, No. XLII, pp. 216-7).

Way into the 19th century the song was reprinted again and again, even in collections like Kinnersly's The Matrimonial Miscellany and Mirror of Human Nature (Vol. 1, 1816, pp. 523-4) and in The Bridal Bouquet, Culled in the Garden of Literature by Henry Southgate (pp. 188-9). These are only scattered examples and I could easily list more. There is a good reason to assume that this piece was amongst the most popular poems of this time. 

At the same time it also became popular in Germany. The intellectuals there were very interested in what their British colleagues were doing. Therefore the German tradition was partly dependent on what had been published in England. Addison's Spectator was translated into German by writer and scholar Luise Gottsched (1713-1762). She must have been familiar with the original text in Scheffer's Lapponia and didn't hesitate to correct Steele's above-mentioned error: in her German adaptation "Orra" became again the name of a lake (Der Zuschauer, Vol. 5, 1741, here new ed., 1751, p. 240). 

Poet Ewald Christian Kleist (1715-1759) also tried his hand at a German version. His "Lied eines Lappländers" appeared in 1758 in Neue Gedichte (No. 2, p. 16-18). It seems that he never saw the original text but instead created a very free adaptation based on Elizabeth Rowe's English poem (see Kelletat 1984, pp. 161-2). Michael Denis, the first to translate MacPherson's Ossian into German, also included Blair's Dissertation in the third volume of his Die Gedichte Ossians, Eines alten Celtischen Dichters (1769). Here he attempted a German translation of the Latin version quoted by Blair (pp. XVIII-XIX). His text was then used by Johann Gottfried Herder in the important and influential essay Auszug aus einem Briefwechsel über Ossian und die Lieder alter Völker (1773, pp. 23-4). A revised version later found a place in Herder's Volkslieder (Vol. 2, 1779, pp. 106-7).
In fact the famous "Die Fahrt zur Geliebten" was not completely Herder's own work but to some extent still indebted to Denis' translation that he used without any acknowledgment. I really wonder why this wasn't noticed by most scholars (also not by Kelletat 1984 & Wretö 1984; but see Gaskill 2003, p. 100). Herder's adaptation was later of course regularly reprinted in German publications and - strangely - he also brought the song back to Scandinavia. Runeberg (in: Helsingfors Morningblad, 29.6.1832, No.48, p. 2; see also Samlade Skrifter 5, 1864, pp. 321-2) and Lönnrot (in Kanteletar 1, 1840, p. LXVII) translated his text into Swedish respectively Finnish.
This quick overview may suffice. What we can see here is that this "Lapp" song - in all its different translations and adaptations - had become part of the common European literary tradition and also came to represent Lapp culture, no matter how we judge its "authenticity". But authenticity in an ethnological sense was not what was asked for! An ever so slight connection to the country of origin had to be enough and otherwise a text like this was more or less completely adapted to European literary taste. In practice it did not represent Lapp song tradition but what the cultivated reader expected as such. 


Scheffer's "cantiones nuptiales" were songs, in their original context they were sung. But what he had received from Sirma and what he only could publish were texts. Therefore it was no wonder that that there were also attempts to set this poem to music, but for some reason not in Germany but only in England. Already the translation in the first English edition of the Lapponia ("With brightest beams") caught the interest of at least one composer. Benjamin Rogers (1614-1698) tried his hand at a new tune. His setting can be found in one of the song collections published by the Playfords: 
  • "Orra Moor, a Lapland Song", in: Choice Ayres and Songs to Sing to the Theorbo-Lute, or Bass-Viol: Being Most of the Newest Ayres and Songs sung at Court, And at the Publick Theatres. Composed by several Gentlemen of His Majesty's Music, and Others, Vol. 4, Printed by A. Godbid and J. Playford Junior, London, 1683 [ESTC R228801], pp. 30-1 (available at the Internet Archive & Nanki Music Library)
I am not sure if this was supposed to sound exotic, at least for me it doesn't. But the title must have looked appealing and interesting. As far as I know this was the only version with this text. Later the adaptation from the Spectator became much more popular among composers. For some reason this started not immediately after the original publication of that version in 1712 but only during the 1730s. Perhaps there was at that time some kind of fad for Lapland. For example on April 25, 1732 the audience at Drury Lane could witness a very weird "Lapland Entertainment" (see London Stage 3.1, p. 209; Memoirs of the Society of Grub Street, Vol. 2, London, 1737, pp. 283-4):

In the following year the Gentlemen's Magazine published a poem with the title "A Gentleman in Lapland to his Mistress in England" (No. XXVIII, April 1733, p. 206). Only since 1735 composers then began to pick up that 20 years old piece by Sir Richard Steele that was of course easily available in reprints of the Spectator. The first two new settings appeared in a very interesting and comprehensive collection of popular songs by publisher John Walsh: 
  • The British Musical Miscellany; or the Delightful Grove: Being a Collection of Celebrated English and Scotch Songs. By the best Masters. Set for the Violin, German Flute, the Common Flute, and Harpsichord, 6 Vols., London, 1733-1737 (date from Smith & Humphries 1968, pp. 59-61; available at the Internet Archive
The one in Vol. 3 (1735, p. 108) is simply titled "A Song by W. Richardson". In the last volume (1737, p. 28) we can find another version by an anonymous author: "A Lapland Song. Taken out of the Spectator". A decade later one more composer tried his hand at a new setting: 
  • C. Smith, Jnr., Thou rising Sun whose gladsome Ray. An Ode from ye Spectator. Set for ye German-Flute, Kitchin, London, n. d. [see Rism, S 3642 [1742]; Harding Mus. E 117 (6) at the Bodleian, [1750]) 
I haven't seen the sheet music but thankfully the song was reprinted in Aitken's Life of Richard Steele (Vol. 2, 1889, No. 8, pp. 385-6). A "Laplander Song" with "the words from the Spectator" can also be found in:
  • Joseph William Holder, A Favourite Collection of Songs. Adapted for the Voice, Piano-forte, Harp, Violin, and German Flute, Opera 4, Printed for the Author, London, n. d., 1778 [date from Farley, p. 17; see catalog Bodleian, Mus. Voc. I, 28 (50), here 1789] 
Around the turn of the century popular composer James Hook (1746-1827) wrote one more new tune. It was published as "Orra Moor. A Favourite Canzonet" in: 
  • A New Year's Gift, for the First Year in the Nineteenth Century, being a Collection of Canzonets for one, two, three voices, Longman, Clementi, & Co., London, [1801] (see the review in Monthly Magazine 11, 1801, p. 56
In 1802 this version was reprinted in the USA, in Benjamin Carr's Musical Journal (Vol. 3, p. 8, at Hathi Trust). Interestingly Hook only used two verses: he started with what was originally the third ("My Orra Moor, where art thou laid?") and followed it with the Steele's first ("Thou Rising Sun"). That way of course not much is left of the song's original content. This was not the last setting of this text, another one appeared in a songbook that came out 15 years later: 
  • "The Laplander's Song", in: English Minstrel. A Selection of Favourite Songs, with Music Adapted to the Voice, Violin, Or German Flute, Edinburgh, n. d. [1815?], pp. 197-8 
All in all at least six versions were published in Britain between the 1730s and 1815. Besides these there may have also been one additional American edition: 
  • Orra moor. Composed & arranged for the Piano Forte by a Gentleman of Philadelphia. Philadelphia. Published & sold by G. Willig 171 Chestnut St. , n. d. [1807]
In the catalog of the library of the University of Michigan (Wolfe 4171) this one is also attributed to Hook. I haven't seen it yet and therefore can't say if the "Gentleman of Philadelphia" has simply borrowed Hook's tune or if it was a new one [22.12.17: Wolfe 4171 has been digitized in the meantime - now at HathiTrust -  and I can see that this was in fact a different tune].

 Possibly there was still one more setting. In a hymn-book published c. 1821 in Baltimore - The Seraph. A New Selection of Psalm Tunes, Hymns, and Anthems (p. 84) - I found a tune with the title "Orra Moor" that doesn't look like any of those I know of. We can see that there was no shortage of attempts to supply Steele's text with a new tune. But in fact none of them sound particularly exotic. Only the name of "Orra moor" and the reference to Lapland - which was not always included - hinted at the song's unusual origin. But there happened to be one more setting where even this very loose connection was dissolved and nothing remained to point to the original context.


Here we have to go back to 1741. That year saw a very successful revival of Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice (see Cholij 1995, pp. 40-1). The debut was on February 14 at Drury Lane (see London Stage 3.2., p. 889). Charles Macklin in his role of Shylock left a lasting impression. The following season young actor and singer Thomas Lowe (1719-1783; see DNB 34, 1893, at wikisource) took over the role of Lorenzo. Composer Thomas A. Arne had written two songs for him to sing on stage. At that time what the audiences saw at the theatres was a kind of multimedia spectacle with music and dance. It was not uncommon to add new songs to the show and many actors - like Lowe - were also popular singers. His debut as Lorenzo was on November 2, 1741 (London Stage 3.2, p. 939). The new songs were published shortly later in a songbook: 
  • The Songs and Duetto, in the Blind Beggar of Bethnal Green; As perform'd by Mr. Lowe, and Mrs. Clive, at the Theatre-Royal, in Drury Lane. With the Favourite Songs, Sung by Mr. Lowe, in The Merchant of Venice, At the said Theatre. To which will be added, A Collection of New Songs and Ballads, The Words carefully selected from the Best Poets. Composed by Thomas Augustine Arne, William Smith, London, n. d. [1741] (available at the Internet Archive
One of them was called "The Serenade" (p. 12) and here we find the last three verses of Steeles "Thou Rising Sun" from the Spectator. Arne had set them to a simple and appealing tune. Lorenzo sang this song to Jessica, Shylock's daughter (in Act 2, Scene 5) and therefore "Orra" needed to be changed to "Jesse": 
My Bliss too long my Bride denies,
Apace the wasting Summer flies:
Nor yet the wintry Blasts I fear,
Not Storms, or Night shall keep me here.

What may for Strength with Steel compare?
Oh Love has Fetters stronger far:
By Bolts of Steel are Limbs confin'd,
But cruel Love enchains the Mind.

No longer then perplex thy Breast,
When Thoughts torment, the first are best;
'Tis mad to go, 'tis Death to stay,
Away my Jesse, haste away. 
Here we can see how easy it was to transplant a song from one exotic scenery to another, from Lapland to Italy. I only wonder if the audience was aware of the its origin. The version from the Spectator was well-known and one may assume that at least some may have known where these verses were from. Nonetheless: the song took on a life of its own and remained part of the Merchant of Venice for a considerable time. Mr. Lowe still played the role and sang Arne's song for the next two decades. He was listed as "Lorenzo (with the songs in character)" for example for performances in 1756 and 1757 (see London Stage 4.2., p. 561 & p. 616). At that time this piece appeared again with a reference to him in a songbook. The title here is a strange mixture of the two variants and the publisher also felt it necessary to reprint the complete text of "Thou Rising Sun": 
  • Jessy Moore. Sung by Mr. Lowe, in: Apollo's Cabinet: Or The Muses Delight. An Accurate Collection of English and Italian Songs, Cantatas and Duets, Liverpool, Vol. 1, n. d. [c. 1757], pp. 164-5 (ESTC N5297, available at ECCO) 

The song remained easily available. The tune appeared in The Delightful Pocket Companion for the German Flute (c. 1763, Book 4, p. 16), the text was reprinted in songsters like The Chearful Companion (1768, p. 125) and also in Bell's Edition of Shakespeare (Vol. 2, 1774, pp. 183-4). Of course words and melody could be found in songbooks like Vocal Music, or the Songsters Companion (c. 1775, p. 144) and there was at least one - undated - sheet music edition: The Serenade. Sung by Mr. Mattocks in the Merchant of Venice (at Levy Sheet Music). Most likely it is from the 1770s (see the catalog of the Bodleian, Harding Mus. G 13 (9)). 

George Mattocks (1735-1804) was another actor and singer who performed the song during his long career. He sang it first already on May 4, 1750, when he was only 15 years old, for one Mr. Cross, apparently an actor who couldn't sing (see London Stage 4.1, p. 197). He also played "Lorenzo (with songs)" for example in 1761, 1776 and 1783 (see London Stage 4.2., p. 837; 5.1, p. 30; 5.2, p. 663) and many times in between. These are only some examples. Other actors of course also performed the song but I can't list them all here. 

At that time the text was still reprinted regularly in songsters, for example in The Humming Bird. A Collection of the most celebrated English and Scots Songs (1785, No. 354, p. 211) and The Busy Bee, Or, Vocal Repository (c. 1790, p. 233). Even after the turn of the century Arne's song was still in use on stage. I found an American edition of The Merchant of Venice - "As played in Philadelphia" - that was published in 1826. There these verses were reprinted once again (pp. 31-2). This was 85 years after its first performance. In fact numerous theatergoers must have heard this relic of a Lapp song that was at that point at least half a dozen steps away from its original shape and had lost every connection to that little piece first printed in 1673 in Professor Scheffer's Lapponia


One single text served here as a starting-point for many lines of tradition that then existed side by side. First there were all the translations and adaptations in Germany and England, then all the musical settings, of which - as shown above - one variant ended up in a Shakespeare play and another one in a hymn-book. But at that point these pieces were far away from the original context. I only wonder why it was exactly this song that became so popular. Why not the other song from the Lapponia, the one about the reindeer? Of course there were also translations of that one. I have already mentioned the one in the Spectator. Herder included his own adaptation in the Volkslieder (I, 1778, pp. 264-5) and others tried their hand at this piece, too. But in Germany and England it was never as well-known and popular as "Orra Moor". Perhaps the reindeer was a little too exotic. 

Its great time only came later, but in Scandinavia, where reindeers were more common than in England or Germany. In 1810 Frans Michael Franzén (1772-1847), poet and bishop from Finland, published his Swedish translation: "Spring, min snälla ren" (in: Skaldestycken 1, 1810 , pp. 118-20, at; see Bergström 1885, pp. 12-3). This text was set to music a couple of times. One version was for example published in Germany as sheet music in 1848 as "Lappländisches Rennthierlied" [sic!], as part of a series with the title National-Lieder aller Völker (available at Google Books & the Internet Archive, date from Hofmeister). Later Franzén's text was also translated into Finnish by Olli Vuorinen ("Juokse porosein") and it became - with another tune - a very popular children song that is sung until today (see Kelletat 1984, p. 182, p. 251, n. 121; Nordiske Sange, 1991, p. 53). 

I also don't want to forget to mention that there was another "Lapp" song that for some time happened to be quite popular in England: 
The snows are dissolving on Torno's rude side,
And the ice of Lulhea flows down the dark side;
Thy stream, O Lulhea, flows swiftly away,
And the snow-drop unfolds her pale beauties to-day.
The words were written by one George Pickering. But this was a hoax or a parody. Mr. Pickering wrote it after he had heard two Lapp women singing in a Newcastle pub. They had been invited and brought to England by a recent expedition to Lapland. The whole story is documented in: 
  • Poetry, Fugitive and Original by the late Thomas Bedingfeld and Mr. George Pickering. With Notes and Some Additional Pieces, By a Friend, Newcastle, 1815, pp. 125-46 (see also Farley, pp. 17-32, Moyne, p. 92) 
Nonetheless his parody was often taken seriously and this text was also set to music at least three times: by John Relfe (1787, Rism R 1113, Copac), Thomas Ebdon (see RISM 806907169) and William Horsley (1813, see review in Monthly Magazine 36, 1813-14, p. 540, Copac). Mr. Pickering also happened to be the writer of "Donocht Head", a popular Scottish song we can find for example in the Scots Musical Museum (Vol. 4, 1792, No. 375, p. 388). Therefore William Stenhouse included the "Lapp" song as "another specimen of Mr. Pickering's poetical talents" in his notes that were published with the reprint of the Museum in 1839 (Vol. 4, pp. 348-9).

  • Joseph [i. e. Giuseppe] Acerbi, Travels Through Sweden, Finland, Lapland, to the North Cape, in The Years 1798 and 1799, Vol. II, London, 1802 (available at the Internet Archive
  • T. Bartens & H.-H. Bartens, Lappische Anthologien - Lappisches in Anthologien, in: János Gulya & Norbert Lossau (ed.), Anthologie und Interkulturelle Rezeption, Frankfurt/M. etc, 1994 (= Opuscula Fenno-Ugrica Gottingensia 6), pp. 41-65 
  • Hans-Hermann Bartens, Der Joik und die Musik der Lappen im Urteil älterer Quellen, vornehmlich Reiseberichten, in: Evgenji A. Chelimskij, Wŭśa wŭśa - sei gegrüßt! Beiträge zur Finnougristik zu Ehren von Gert Sauer dargebracht zu seinem siebzigsten Geburtstag, Wiebaden, 2002, pp. 1-64 
  • Richard Bergström, Spring, min snälla ren, Stockholm, 1885 (= Nyare Bidrag Till Kännedom om De Svenska Landsmålen och Svenskt Folkliv 5.4) (available at the Internet Archive
  • Irena Botena Cholij, Music in Eigtheenth-Century London Shakespeare Productions, Phil. Diss., King's College, London, 1995 (pdf available at 
  • Otto Donner, Lieder der Lappen, Helsingfors, 1876 (available at the Internet Archive
  • Frank Edgar Farley, Three "Lapland Songs", in: Publications of the Modern Language Association of America 21, 1906, pp. 1-39 (available at the Internet Archive
  • Sionann in Ui Fhlaithbheartaig, Saami Joik. Culture, Context & Performance, 2015, at 
  • Howard Gaskill, Ossian, Herder, and the Idea of Folk Song, in: David Hill (ed.), Literature of the Sturm und Drang, Rochester, 2003 (= Camden House History of German Literature 6), pp. 95-116 
  • Andreas F. Kelletat (ed.), Brautlied, Kulnasadz, mein Ren, in: Trajekt. Beiträge zur finnischen, lappischen und estnischen Literatur 2, 1982, pp. 107-147 
  • Andreas F. Kelletat, Herder und die Weltliteratur. Zur Geschichte des Übersetzens um 18. Jahrhundert, Frankfurt/M. [etc], 1984 (= Europäische Hochschulschriften, Reihe I - Deutsche Sprache und Literatur, Bd. 760) 
  • Armas Launis, Lappische Juoigos-Melodien, Helsingfors, 1908 (= Suomalais-Ugrilaisen Seuran Toimituksia XXVI) (available at the Internet Archive
  • The London Stage 1660-1800. A Calendar Of Plays, Entertainments & Afterpieces Together With Casts, Box-Receipts And Contemporary Comment compiled from Playbills, Newspapers and Theatrical Diaries of the Period, 5 Parts in 11 Vols., Carbondale 1960-1968 (available at Hathi Trust
  • Ernest J. Moyne, Raising The Wind. The Legend of Lapland and Finland Wizards in Literature, Edited by Wayne T. Kime, Newark, 1981
  • Nordiske Sange - en nordisk folkhøjskolesangbog. Udgivet as Nordisk Råd og Nordisk Ministerråd i samarbejde med Nordisk Folkehøjskoleråd. Damlade og redigeret af Birthe Dam Christensen, Nord, 1991:20 (available at Google Books
  • R. I. Page, "Lapland Sorcerers", Saga-Book of the Viking Society, XVI, parts 2-3, 1963-4, pp. 215-232 (available at VSNR Web Publications) 
  • E. N. Setälä, Lappische Lieder aus dem XVII:ten Jahrhundert. Nach den Originalhandschriften hrsg. von E. N. S., in: Suomalais-Ugrilaisen Aikakauskirja 7, 1889, pp. 105-123 (available at the Internet Archive
  • A. F. Skjöldebrand, Voyage Pittoresque au Cap Nord, Cahier 1-4, Charles Deleen & J. G. Forsgren, Stockholm, 1801 & 1802, at & the Internet Archive
  • A. F. Skjöldebrand, Picturesque Journey to the North Cape. Translated from the French, Richardson, London, 1813 (available at the Internet Archive
  • William C. Smith & Charles Humphries, Bibliography Of The Musical Works Published By The Firm Of John Walsh during the years 1721 - 1766, London, 1968 
  • Eberhard Winkler, Zu Olaus Sirma's lappischen Lieder (1672), in: Ural-Altaische Jahrbücher N.F. 14, 1996, pp. 129-150 
  • Tore Wretö, Folkvisans Upptäckare.Receptionsstudier fran Montaigne och Schefferus till Herder, Stockholm, 1984 (Historia Litterarum 14. Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis) 
  • Herbert Wright, Lapp Songs in English Literature, in: The Modern Language Review 13, 1918, pp. 412-419 (available at the Internet Archive)
[15.12.2018: some Links added]

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