Skye Boat Song – Theater het Kielzog

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During the corona lockdown we gave a unique concert for stuffed animal toys from Caden Myles, the son of David Myles in the Kielzog theater in Hoogezand. Unfortunately our violinist was ill during this livestream and for us it took some getting used to giving a concert without an audience.

The Skye Boat Song

An old Scottish national anthem. The melody dates from 1870 and the text we sing is from 1892, written by Robert Louis Stevenson. Since the hit series ‘Outlander’ it became even more popular and we always love the reaction of the audience when they recognise the first notes.

Background information

The first contact with the song was back in 1995 when David Myles had to practice it in bagpipe class. An old traditional that has already been sung by several artists. David wanted to play The Skye Boat Song within the band and persuaded the other members to play along, shortly before a performance after William had the lyrics in his head, Dieb came up with the idea to play the song on Uilleanpipes instead of the Scottish bagpipes and a structure was devised. An hour later “The Skye Boat Song” was presented to the public and it remains one of our favorites. Even the front cover of the CD “Scotlands Story” is based on this.

The song is about Prince Charles Edward Stuart (Bonnie Prince Charlie) ‘s journey from Benbecula to the Isle of Skye during an escape after his defeat at the Battle of Culloden in 1746.

Stevenson’s version is more about the inner feelings of the defeated prince. Ambition and optimism have been replaced by a feeling of tired loss.

Sir Harold Edwin Boulton’s original 1870 song ends with a sense of heroic failure and a romantic expression of future victory. Stevenson’s ending, however, is poignant and realistic. In the song, he realizes that he has lost everything, even his own identity: “All I was is gone.” The “boy” he once was is gone and will never return.

Lyrics

[Chorus]

Sing me a song of a lad that is gone,
Say, could that lad be I?
Merry of soul he sailed on a day
Over the sea to Skye.

Mull was astern, Rum on the port,
Eigg on the starboard bow;
Glory of youth glowed in his soul;
Where is that glory now?

[Chorus]

Give me again all that was there,
Give me the sun that shone!
Give me the eyes, give me the soul,
Give me the lad that’s gone!

[Chorus]

Billow and breeze, islands and seas,
Mountains of rain and sun,
All that was good, all that was fair,
All that was me is gone.

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