The Lyrics and the Legend of ‘Loch Lomond’

LGOberean

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I’ve played this Scottish song before, but recently revisited it. And in so doing, I searched for the oldest printed sheet music for it that I could find, then compared the lyrics to more recent printings of sheet music/lyrics. I want to get the words right.

Here’s the image of a page of the sheet music, song no. 153 on page 138 of The Assembly Hymn and Song Collection: designed for use in chapel, assembly, convocation, or general exercises of schools, normals, colleges and universities. 3rd edition. Pittsburg, KS: Educational Publishing Company, 1914.

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Does anyone have something older and/or more definitive? The song was supposedly first published around 1841-42, but I haven't been able to find an image of that online.

I also want to know the backstory to the song. I realize that with old songs like this one, perhaps the best you can hope for is the legend to the song. But I want to know what the prevailing opinion is of the likely legend to “Loch Lomond.” So here’s a chance for the Scotts amongst us here on TDPRI, and/or the music historians to enlighten me. TIA.
 

AAT65

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Not sure what you’re after, but how many people are aware of the meaning of the refrain? The song is the dying words of a Scots soldier on the battlefield to his friend (or perhaps to Bonnie Prince Charlie, in whose service he is dying). The “high road” is the road his friend must take, travelling on the ground; the “low road” is the passage through the Earth that the dying man’s soul will take, which will take him to Scotland before his friend.

If it’s a Jacobite song, as seems likely, it could date from the second half of the 18th Century (the Rising having been brutally put down in 1746). There’s a good chance that it’s an old tune that acquired new words of course.
 

Kandinskyesque

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So far I came across this (link)but I'll ask around and see what I can find, I'm only 5 miles as the crow flies from the east bank.
The village nearby has a great deal of university level musicians , composers and musicologists, if there's anywhere the info can be found I'm sure it's here.

This area in the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park was a very Jacobite area back then, largely the MacGregor Clan, mainly Gaelic speaking (the first translation of the New Testament in Gaelic happened half a mile away from me) which was suppressed in its usage after the Culloden massacre.

A lovely song which runs through my ears on my weekly drive along to my secret place near Inversnaid on the north east bank.

Edit: the last photograph in my anniversary post earlier today has Loch Lomond in the background. We're at a bridge over a waterfall that runs into the loch at Inversnaid.


From Luss.
1660608573359.jpeg



From Inversnaid.
1660608659660.jpeg
 
Last edited:

LGOberean

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A little less than an hour after I posted this thread, our internet access went down. We called our service and reported it (not talking to a real person, of course, but dealing with those aggravating recorded promptings), and were told they'd have it fixed in a couple of hours. Long story short, deadlines came and went, and we gave up at about 10 o'clock and went to bed. They restored service sometime during the wee hours of the morning.

So, I'm just checking things after morning chores (we keep chickens and quail) and having breakfast. I'll be replying to the comments above momentarily.
 

LGOberean

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Not sure what you’re after, but how many people are aware of the meaning of the refrain? The song is the dying words of a Scots soldier on the battlefield to his friend (or perhaps to Bonnie Prince Charlie, in whose service he is dying). The “high road” is the road his friend must take, travelling on the ground; the “low road” is the passage through the Earth that the dying man’s soul will take, which will take him to Scotland before his friend.

If it’s a Jacobite song, as seems likely, it could date from the second half of the 18th Century (the Rising having been brutally put down in 1746). There’s a good chance that it’s an old tune that acquired new words of course.

What I'm after can essentially be summed up with the word "details." It's a weird thing, but memorizing songs actually comes easier if I know the backstory and, in cases like this one, the language. And God help me, I love research. My youngest daughter once said to me, "Dad, you put the anal in analytical." :oops:🤣 (Even though it came at my expense, I was proud of her witticism.)

I've already done quite a bit of research on my own via the interwebs, and not surprisingly found conflicting information regarding both the lyrics and the backstory. I determined to continue trying to research online, but I also thought, "I know we've got some TDPRI members from Scotland, and no doubt music history teachers. Start a thread."

I had read of the proposed Jacobite connection to the legend. After posting, I tracked down this source online, and am posting the relevant pages here.

John Grieg, editor, Scots Minstrelsie: A National Monument of Scottish Song. Volume III, pgs. xxv, 352f. Edinburgh: T.C. & E. C. Jack, Grange Publishing Works, 1893.

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LGOberean

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So far I came across this (link)but I'll ask around and see what I can find, I'm only 5 miles as the crow flies from the east bank.
The village nearby has a great deal of university level musicians , composers and musicologists, if there's anywhere the info can be found I'm sure it's here.

This area in the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park was a very Jacobite area back then, largely the MacGregor Clan, mainly Gaelic speaking (the first translation of the New Testament in Gaelic happened half a mile away from me) which was suppressed in its usage after the Culloden massacre.

A lovely song which runs through my ears on my weekly drive along to my secret place near Inversnaid on the north east bank.

Edit: the last photograph in my anniversary post earlier today has Loch Lomond in the background. We're at a bridge over a waterfall that runs into the loch at Inversnaid.


From Luss.
View attachment 1017431


From Inversnaid.
View attachment 1017434

I posted this thread after seeing and commenting in your anniversary thread. I didn't even notice at first that you were from Scotland. I just related to a guy with long hair having been married for decades. (My hair's not as long or as thick or as dark as it once was, but long hair and a beard is kinda what I'm known for. And we celebrated our 49th anniversary this past April.) Once I saw that you're a Scot, I was hoping you'd chime in. Thanks for the info and the great pics.
 

Kandinskyesque

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I've played in a quite a few function bands and for as long as I remember at weddings, 21sts, 50ths, etc this version of Loch Lomond has become the expected finale of the night including the singalong part, complete with over exuberant drunks tripping over each other as the music speeds up at the end.
A whole lot of sweaty smiling faces at the end and that's just the women.

I don't care too much for this version, nor the band for that matter but it invariably brings the house down and leaves the punters very happy.
I suppose my job on the night is to entertain and this version of the song certainly does.
 

saltyseadog

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As a previous poster mentioned it is a Jacobean ballad from the time of the uprising. By the way the OP's post is taken from some English translation which wrongly states Scotch folksong. As any Scot will tell you scotch is whisky, the people who live in Scotland are Scots. If you want to make a bad impression in Scotland on holiday for example refer to the people as scotch and you will be quickly told the difference.
 

nickmm

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Folk song. Is best not learnt from a written form.

In 1841 I don't think the best version was performed by scribes.
Imagine a transcribed version of Dark was the night Cold was the ground.

Listen to your favourite artists perform the piece and interpret in your way. It is the aural form of folk music, the tradition.
 

LGOberean

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I've played in a quite a few function bands and for as long as I remember at weddings, 21sts, 50ths, etc this version of Loch Lomond has become the expected finale of the night including the singalong part, complete with over exuberant drunks tripping over each other as the music speeds up at the end.
A whole lot of sweaty smiling faces at the end and that's just the women.

I don't care too much for this version, nor the band for that matter but it invariably brings the house down and leaves the punters very happy.
I suppose my job on the night is to entertain and this version of the song certainly does.


I'm glad that you said you don't care much for this version. I may be wildly popular, but to me it takes too much license with the arrangement and lyrics. I'm more of a folk singer than a rocker, so the way I've sung it in the past and the way I plan to resurrect it in my performance repertoire is more to the folksy side of things, if not original version.
 




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