Anne's Music Manuscript Copy-Book
Part of Anne's duties as a governess was to give instruction in music and singing. Indeed, most of the music she purchased and practised herself was of the 'vocal with piano accompaniment' variety. During her holiday from Thorp Green in June 1843, which she spent at home, Anne began copying her favourite music into a Music Manuscript copybook which she had purchased earlier that month, possibly while on one of her shopping expeditions to York with the Robinsons, for the grand sum of three shillings and six pence 165 (17·5 pence - though, no doubt, this truly was a grand sum in 1843!). The book was taken back with her to Thorp Green where she performed the music for her own entertainment during her leisure time. Indeed, during the frequent periods of home-sickness and depression which she suffered at Thorp Green, the music became a life-line to her.166  The 'copybook' also proved to be a useful aid in the teaching of her charge, Mary Robinson. One song that she had copied into the book was a duet, 'Time around his dial stealing',167n and she would probably have performed its dual vocals with Mary. We have one contemporary reference to Anne's singing, and preference in the type of music she enjoyed performing: Ellen Nussey, in her reminiscences, said of Anne:

'. . . she preferred soft harmonies - she sang a little, her voice was weak, but very sweet in tone.'

Over the following eighteen months, Anne continued to copy songs and hymns into the book. Throughout July of 1844, she spent her usual period at Scarborough with the Robinsons, where she would almost certainly have enjoyed chaperoning her charges to a variety of musical concerts at the Gothic Saloon (by the Spa), the Town Hall in St. Nicholas Street, and the Theatre Royal in St. Thomas Street.168n  These experiences may have been responsible for her heightened interest in music throughout the rest of the year, made evident by a marked increase in her purchase of music books.169  By 13 October (1844), she had reached page 72 in her copy-book, where she wrote out her own recently composed hymn, 'My God! Oh let me call Thee mine'),170n  set to the music of a well known tune called 'Justification' (shown below). Edward Chitham explains: 'The hymn was very much in the Wesleyan tradition, requesting faith in the coming trials and mourning over the past. Its tone suggests that Anne Brontë's cheerful experience at Scarborough had been replaced by another period of self-doubt.'

On completion, the book contained the words and music to thirty two items, comprising a mixture of hymns; ballads, 'mostly of the "Ye banks and braes of bonny Doon" variety'; and sacred songs: its contents make it clear that Anne particularly enjoyed hymn singing.171  Another song, still famous today, that she copied into the book was Auld Lang Syne (also shown below).

'My God! O Let me call Thee mine!' set to a tune called 'Justification' in Anne's music book

On this page Anne has set her own hymn, 'My God, O let me call Thee mine', to a tune called 'Justification' (the title of which is written at the top). She wrote the hymn at Thorp Green on 13 October 1844, and the nature of the tune made it necessary for her to repeat the last line of each verse, though this is quite traditional in evangelical hymnology. This page shows the complete music - together with the words of the first verse. For a digitally enhanced (more readable) copy, complete with all verses - click on the music.

Auld Lang Syne, as copied by Anne into her music book.

On this page, Anne has written out the first section of the (still) famous song, 'Auld Lang Syne'.

Copyright © 1999 Michael Armitage
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