|Highland Heart - Liner Notes
I Vow to Thee, My Country
Cecil A. Spring-Rice wrote this poem in 1918 as a tribute to the English soldiers serving in World War I. Gustav Holst set the poem to the melody of his “Music of Jupiter” from The Planets. This melody, also known as “Thaxted” (named for a village in Essex where Holst lived), is found in a number of hymnals in the United States with the text of “O God, Beyond All Praising.” Princess Diana of Wales requested “I Vow to Thee, My Country” to be played at her wedding, and it was also performed at her funeral in 1997.
2. Glenburnie Rant
This minor reel is found in many collections including The Gow Collection, The Athole Collection, and Kerr’s Merry Melodies. According to The Concise Scots Dictionary a rant has to do with “boisterous or riotous merry-making.”
3. Are You Sleeping, Maggie?
Robert Tannahill (17741810) was a contemporary and admirer of the poet Robert Burns. Although Tannahill wrote many beautiful works, he never received the fame that Burns did. In the lyrics of this song Tannahill tells a tale of romance on a rainy night when the weather only serves to increase the intensity of the encounter.
“She’s ope'd the door, she's let him in, she’s cuist aside his dreepin plaidie
Blaw yer warst ye rain and wind for Maggie noo I’ min aside ye.”
4. If I Were a Blackbird
Dr. Helen Creighton collected a version of this song (of Irish origin) in the 1950s in Lunenburg County, Nova Scotia. Many people have recorded this classic song including the Scottish group Silly Wizard on their album Wild & Beautiful (Shanachie Records).
5. Sleep Soond I’da Moarnin’
The term soond in this popular Shetland reel means “soundly.” According to fiddler Tom Anderson, it is also known as “Da Gutters O’ Skeld.” Many tunes from Scotland were Shetlandised by the local fiddlers, who were greatly influenced by the music of Norway.
The Norse ruled the Shetlands until it became part of Scotland in 1468.
6. Bonny at Morn
This beautiful lullaby first appeared in print in 1882 in The Northumbrian Minstrelsy. It was originally an instrumental greatly influenced by the nature of the northeastern bagpipe. It was first collected by John Bell in the early nineteenth century. An interesting aspect of the lyrics is that the mother expresses both love for the child asleep and frustration with her lazy son, who won’t awake to do his tasks. Kim first heard this piece on the recording The Door of Saints by the talented Scottish fiddler Duncan Chisholm.
“Cannie at e'en, bonnie at morn
Thoo’s ower-lang in thy bed bonnie at morn”
7. Jamie, Come Try Me
(Also known as “If Thou Should Ask, My Love”)
Robert Burns (17591796) wrote the poem (set to the melody of an old air) and first published it in Oswald’s Curious Scots Tunes (1742). It’s also found in The Caledonian Pocket Companion.
“If thou should ask my love, could I deny thee?
If thou would win my love, Jamie, come try me!
Jamie, come try me.”
8. The Selkie
This ballad is from the Orkney Islands and was also collected as Child Ballad #113. Selkie means “seal” in the Orcadian dialect. Selkies (elchies, or roanes) are seal-folk that have been known to shed their skins and live among the mortals on the shore. A popular legend is the one in which a fisherman sees a selkie shed her skin on land, and she then transforms into a beautiful woman. He quickly falls in love with her and hides her skin so that she can never return to the sea. She lives with him for years and gives him many beautiful children but longs for her home in the depths of the ocean. Feeling her sorrow her youngest daughter eventually reveals the hiding place of the skin. The selkie then dons her skin and returns to the sea.
9. Loch Lomond
The lyrics are attributed to Lady John Scott (18101900), who adapted it from a broadside (a lyric witten on a single sheet of paper) by Sanderson of Edinburgh (1838). There are a number of interpretations of this song, usually centering on this theme:
Following the Battle of Culloden Moor in 1746 many Scotsmen were imprisoned by the English and sentenced to death. As the wife of a young Scot visits with her Donald for the last time, he comforts her by saying his departed soul would take the “low road” (the spiritual road after his demise), and she will travel by the “high road” over the rocky highlands and his spirit will be waiting for her in Loch Lomand.
“Oh ye’ll tak’ the high road and I'll tak’ the low road,
An’ I’ll be in Scotland before ye’, But wae is my heart until we meet again
On the bonnie, bonnie banks o’ Loch Lomond.”
10. Mist Covered Mountains of Home
The melody of this popular Scottish waltz was based on the tune “Johnny Stays Long at the Fair.” John Cameron wrote the lyrics in 1856 and titled it “Ballachulish.” The melody was originally known as “Duil ri Baile Chaolais fhaicinn” (“Hoping to See Ballachulish”).
11. Dark Woman of the Mountains
A traditional Irish air played in waltz tempo. It has been attributed to The Roche Collection, Book I.
12. Ghosts of Gight
This tune is credited to Bert Murray (19132003), a renowned Scottish fiddler and composer from Aberdeen, Scotland. Gight Castle (near Fyvie, above the river Ythan) was home to the Gordons for many hundreds of years. It was built by William Gordon around 1479 and eventually sold in 1738 to clear the gambling debts of Mad Jack Byron, whose son was the famous poet Lord Byron. One of the ghost legends is about a piper who was sent to investigate an underground passage and never returned, although it is said that the sound of his pipes can still be heard in the castle.
Click here for a most interesting tale concerning this tune!
13. Ae Fond Kiss
One of the many songs that Robert Burns (17591796) wrote to Mrs. Agnes (Nancy) McLehose. She was known in his poems as Clarinda. According to legend Mr. Burns wrote this love song as Nancy sailed away to the West Indies. The melody is from the air “Rory Dall’s Port” found in the Caledonian Pocket Companion, c. 1756. Rory Dall O’Cahan (c. 15501660) was a blind Irish harper who played for the Macleod family of Skye. Port is a term for the national Celtic airs of the Highlands of Scotland.
14. Loch Tay Boat Song (Iorram Loch Tatha)
Mrs. Cameron at Inverallort is credited for collecting the melody in 1870. Sir Harold Boulton (1859-1935), who was a writer and translator of songs in the Gaelic language, wrote the lyrics. The song first appears in Boulton's Songs of the North (1885-1926). In this song of unrequited love the ferryman is very much taken with the red-haired (nighean ruadh) girl, but sadly she has no feeling for him. This is his lament as he rows her across Loch Tay and gazes toward the mountain called Ben Lawers. Click here for the lyrics.
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