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Sunday, July 16, 2006

The Braes of Balquhidder (Wild Mountain Thyme)

Wild Mountain Thyme
Lyrics from various authors, music by Robert Tannahill

Oh the summer time is comin'
And the trees are sweetly bloomin'
And the wild mountain thyme
Grows around the bloomin' heather
Will ye go, lassie, go

And we'll all go together
To pull wild mountain thyme
All around the bloomin' heather
Will ye go, lassie, go

I will build my love a bower
By yon clear crystal fountain
And on it I will pile
All the flowers of the mountain
Will ye go, lassie, go

I will range through all the wilds
And the deep land so dreary
And return with all the spoils
To the bower o' my dearie
Will ye go, lassie, go

If my true love, she is gone
I will surely find another
To pull wild mountain time
All around the bloomin' heather
Will ye go, lassie, go

Oh, the autum time is comin'
And the leaves will soon be fallin'
And the blossoms o' the summer
Will soon wither on the mountain
Will ye go, lassie, go

Background by Daniel Womack: This song is a varient of an original song written by Robert Tannahill entitled "The Braes of Balquhidder". The earliest version which can be solidly attributed to him comes from "Songs of Scotland" published in 1850 and edited by George Farquhar Graham. The lyrics in that book are as follows:

Will ye go, lassie, go, to the braes o' Balquhidder
Where the blueberries grow, 'mang the bonnie bloomin' heather;
Where the deer and the ram, lightly bounding together,
Sport 'he lang summer day 'mang the braes o' Balquhidder

Will ye go, lassie, go,
To the braes o' Balquhidder!

Where the blueberries grow,
'Mang the bonnie bloomin' heather

I will twine thee a bower by the clear siller fountain
An' I'll cover it o'er wi' the flowers o' the mountain;
I will range through the wilds, an' the deep glens sae dreary.
An' return wi' their spoils to the bower o' my dearie

When the rude wintry win' idly raves round our dwellin',
An' the roar o' the linn on the night-breeze is swellin'
Sae merrily we'll sing as the storm rattles o'er us,
Till the dear sheeling ring wi' the light liltin' chorus.

Now the summer is in prime, wi' the flowers richly bloomin'
An' the wild mountain thyme a' the moorlands perfumin'
To our dear native scenes let us journey together
Where glad innocence reigns 'mang the braes of Balquhidder

Background from "Songs of Scotland": This song was written by Robert Tannahill, a Paisley weaver, born in that town 3d June 1774. His death occured on 17th May 1810, by suicide. His biographers assure us that this lamentable act arose from no pressure of poverty: "his means were always above his wants." His constitution was delicate; his temperment shy and morbidly sensitive...In Captain S. Fraser's Collection of Melodies of the Highlands and Islands of Scotland, 1816, we find, No. 77, Bochuiddar - Balquidder - which is the air applied to Tannahill's song, with some slight differences, as found in vol. I, p. 49 of R.A. Smith's "Scottish Minstrel."

Additional notes by Daniel Womack: It seems that some attribute the most recent arrangement, entitiled "Wild Mountain Thyme" to the eldest Francis McPeake though many artists claim to have been singing those words or similar far earlier. The truth behind the original authorship of the most recent arrangement will never, I fear, be conclusively settled. Does it really matter? I'll leave that philosophical question to you for your own answer.

As always, if there is anything I've missed, any information that you know to be incorrect, or if there is a song you've heard on the podcast that you would like to see included, please do not hesitate to contact me at

--posted by Daniel Womack of the Brobdingnagian Bards
  11:44 AM

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