> Folk Music > Songs > Hallowe'en


[Violet Jacob, Jim Reid]

Violet Jacob (1863-1946) wrote the poem Hallowe'en after the death of her son in the Battle of the Somme. Jim Reid set it to music and recorded it in 1996 for his album The Better o' a Sang.

Sangsters sang Hallowe'en in 2000 on their Greentrax CD Sharp and Sweet.

Sheena Wellington and Karine Polwart sang Hallowe'en at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall in January 2001 as part of the Celtic Connections festival. The concert recording was released a year later on the Greentrax festival CD Scots Women.

Hector Gilchrist sang Hallowe'en in 2007 on his WildGoose CD Ingleneuk. He noted:

Violet Jacob wrote many fine poems in the local vernacular of the Mearns of Fife, although amazingly, it was not her natural tongue. This is a tale of remembrance on Hallows eve, by a ploughman, whose comrade, The “Heid” horseman, has been lost in the trenches and a new one, has placed his clothes kist next to the fire. It prompts us I think, to take the time to read the lists on the village war memorials, when passing by.

Jim Reid’s tune captures the mood perfectly, as does Jonny [Dyer]’s sensitive piano accompaniment.

Hannah Rarity learned Hallowe'en from Fiona Hunter, and sang it on her 2018 CD Neath the Gloaming Star.



The tattie-liftin's nearly through,
They're plooin' whaur the barley grew
And efter dark roond ilka stack
You'll see the horsemen stand and crack
O Lachlan, but I mind on you

I mind fu' aften we hae seen
Ten thoosand stars keek doon atween
The naked branches, and below
Baith fairm and bothy hae their show
A-low wi' lichts o' Hallowe'en

There's bairns wi' guizards at their tails
Cloorin' the doors wi' runts o' kail
And aye you'll hear the screechs an' skirls
O' lassies wi' their droukit curls
Bobbin' for aipples i' the pail

The bothy fire is loupin' heat
A new heid-horseman's kist is set
Richt o'er the lum whaur by the blaze
The auld yin stood that kept yer claes
I canna thole tae see it yet

But gin the auld folks' tales are richt
An' ghaists cam hame on Hallow's nicht
Oh freend, oh freends, what would I gie
Tae feel yer hand yer axe tae me
Atween the dark an' coral licht

Awa' in France across the wave
The wee lichts burn on ilka grave
An' you an' me their lowes hae seen
Ye'll maybe hae yer Hallowe'en
Yont whaur you're lyin' way the lave

There's drink an' daff an' sang an' dance
An' ploys an' kisses get their chance
But Lachlan, man, the place I see
Is whaur the auld kist used tae be
An' the lichts o' Hallowe'en in France