Folk Song – Scottish

The Bonnie Banks o’Loch Lomand

By yon bonnie banks and by yon bonnie braes

Where the sun shines bright on Loch Lomond

Where me and my true love will ne-er meet again (alternate: Where me and my true love were eer lak/wont to gae)

On the bonnie, bonnie banks o’ Loch Lomond.


O you’ll tak’ the high road and I’ll tak’ the low road

And I’ll be in Scotland afore ye

For me and my true love will ne-er meet again

On the bonnie, bonnie banks o’ Loch Lomond.

‘Twas there that we parted in yon shady glen

On the steep, steep sides o’ Ben Lomond

Where deep in purple hue, the hieland hills we view

And the moon comin’ out in the gloamin’.

Chorus: (repeat)

The wee birdies sing and the wild flowers spring

And in sunshine the waters are sleeping

But the broken heart, it kens nae second spring again

Tho’ the waeful may cease frae their greeting. (alternate: Tho’ the world knows not how we are grieving)

When my mother was a little girl, she used to have a lot of relatives come over from Scotland. My mother explained that the Gray family would sit around and talk and eat for hours. Undoubtedly, the “old folks” would break into song and one of her favorites ballads was the song “The Bonnie Banks o’Loch Lomand.” She can still sing the whole song, and remembers vividly her whole family singing, with my Grandfather leading the way. When she was singing in unison with the rest of her Scottish relatives, my mother recalls feeling a sense of connection with her heritage.

Singing was a big part of the Scottish culture and this song was based off the belief that the Celtics and Scots shared. When man meets his death in a foreign land (like during war) his spirit travels back to his birthplace by an underground ferry way. This is called “The Low Road.” In 1745, Scotland invaded England and many of the soldiers were captured and thrown into prison, or killed. The song is about two soldiers, one who escapes and takes the “high” road back to Scotland, and one who is executed and whose spirit travels the “low” road back. The spirit gets back to Scotland first. This story behind this folk song and lyrics can also be found in Scottish Lore and Folklore.

Annotation: Douglas, Ronald Macdonald. Scottish Lore and Folklore. Crown Publishers: New York: 1982

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