Ae Fond Kiss is an arrangement of the Scottish song to which Robert “Robbie” Burns’ poem of unrequited love was set. The poem was written for and to Mrs. Agnes Craig McLehose (1758- 1851), on the occasion of her departure to join her dissolute husband in Jamaica, and ne’er to be seen again by the bard. Robert Burns (1759-1796) is regarded as Scotland’s national poet, in part because he wrote in the Scottish vernacular. His poetry was much admired by major poets; both Sir Walter Scott and Lord Byron paid homage to it, maintaining the last four lines of Ae Fond Kiss contain the essence of a thousand love tales.
The most common tune to which the poet’s masterpiece is set is Hi horo’s na horo eile, a folksong by Scottish composer/arranger John MacLean written around 1880. John Michael Diack (1869-1947), a Scottish arranger, later modified the older tune to that which we know today. Ae Fond Kiss and its companion piece, Island Spinning Song (earthsongs), comprise the set Scottish Contrasts, which received first place in the Choral Canada’s Associated Publishers Award for Composition.
Ae is pronounced to rhyme with hay and means “one.” Ilka (m. 47) is an adjective meaning “each” or “every,” and sae (mm. 34 and 36) is used to mean “so.”
n (m. 56) is the dynamic indication for niente, meaning silence. The ending of the piece should fade to silence (al niente).