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Far Over the Forth

[ Roud 3360 ; trad.]

Jeannie Robertson sang Far Over the Forth in a concert in Edinburgh in 1958. This recording by Hamish Henderson was published in 1984 on her Lismor album Up the Dee and Doon the Don.

Ray Fisher recorded Far Over the Forth in 1961 as the title track of her and her brother Archie Fisher's Topic EP Far Over the Forth. All tracks from this EP were included in 1965 on the Topic album Bonny Lass Come O'er the Burn. Norman Buchan commented in the sleeve notes:

An expanded version of a song sometimes attributed to Burns. It is a curious mixture of the folk-sentimental and the literary-sentimental. It was learned from the singing of Lizzie [Higgins], the daughter of the great Aberdeen folk-singer, Jeannie Robertson.

Lizzie Higgins sang Far Over the Forth to Bill Leader in his home in Camden Town, London, on January 5, 1968. This recording was released in 1969 on her Topic album of Scots songs and ballads, Princess of the Thistle.

The same song appears in James Johnson’s The Scots Musical Museum [in] 1787. Lizzie has the words from a printed source but uses a pipe tune from her father’s repertoire as the air.

Ellen Mitchell sang Far O'er the Forth on her and husband Kevin Mitchell's 2001 Musical Traditions anthology Have a Drop Mair. She commented in the album's booklet:

I learned this from the singing of the late Lizzie Higgins, one of my favourite traditional singers. I imagined the woman in the song was from around Edinburgh, but Jock Duncan put me right about the geography of the song. He says the Forth railway bridge is visible in parts of Perthshire and indeed the source of the River Forth is above Stirling, in the Trossachs, which, of course, is near the Breadalbane (or Breadlabane as Lizzie sings it) in the song!

Emily Smith sang Far O'er the Forth in 2005 on her album A Different Life.

Lyrics

Ellen Mitchell sings Far O'er the Forth Emily Smith sings Far O'er the Forth

Far over the Forth I look at the north,
But what is the north, wi its highland tae me?
The east, nor the west, gi ease tae my breast,
It's a far foreign land, o'er the dark rolling sea.

Far over the forth I look to the north
But what is the north with its highlands tae me?
Not the east, nor the west, bring ease tae my breast
It’s a far foreign land o’er the dark rolling sea

A' the lang summer days amangst the heather and the bracken,
The joy and delight o' his bonny blue ee,
It was little I kenned that the wild western ocean
Would be rolling this day between ma laddie and me.

A’ the lang summer days amangst the heather and bracken
Brought joy and delight tae my bonny blue ee
Tis little did I think that the wild western ocean
Would be rolling this day ‘tween my laddie and me

His father he frowned on the love of his boyhood
And oh his proud mother looked cauld upon me,
But he ay follaed me tae ma hame in the sheelin
And the Hills o' Breadalbane rang wild wi our glee.

His faither he frowned on the love of his boyhood
And oh his proud mother looked cauld upon me
But he aye followed me, tae ma hame in the sheelin
And the hills o’ Breadalbane rang wild wi oor glee

We trysted our love by the cairn on the mountain,
The deer and roe stood bridesmaidens tae me.
And my love's trysting glass was the pure crystal fountain,
And what then was the world tae ma laddie and me.

We trysted oor love by the cairn on the mountain
The deer and the roe stood bride’s maidens tae me
And my love’s trysting glass was the pure crystal fountain
Oh what then was the world tae my laddie and me

So I'll look tae the west as I go to my rest,
That happy my dreams and my slumbers might be.
For far in the west is the lad I loo best,
He is seeking a hame for ma bairnie and me.

So I’ll look to the west as I go tae my rest
That happy my dreams and my slumbers may be
For far in the west is the lad I loo best
He is seeking a hame for ma bairnie and me