The music is life post

I love music. For me, music is as necessary as air and water. Music is food for the soul and the heart. I love to sing and to play the piano and to listen to music that stirs my feelings and makes me feel alive.

Today, I am sharing one song that truly warms my heart. It is called the Skye Boat Song. It is about how, after the failure of the Jacobite rising in Scotland in 1745, Prince Charles Stuart (known as Bonnie Prince Charlie) disguised himself as a serving maid and escaped to the island of Skye. 

I sang this song with a local choral group a few years ago. The style of the song is a slow lullaby. The words are heart-wrenching. The first time that I tried to sing it, I started to cry. I had to practice the melody only, without the heartbreaking words. Later, I was able to sing the words with feeling but not feeling to excess. 

Here is an interesting fact about the song. Patrick Troughton, who was the second doctor on the long-running British TV series, Doctor Who, played the Skye Boat Song repeatedly on his recorder in episode six, scene ten of “The Web of Fear.” It was broadcast on March 9th, 1968.

I chose this version of the song to share with you because I love the singer’s interpretation of the song. It is very expressive, and it carries me to a different place.

In Wikipedia, I found two versions of the lyrics. The first lyrics below are the traditional lyrics. The second set of lyrics are by Robert Louis Stevenson, and they can be sung to the same melody as the traditional lyrics:

[Chorus:] Speed, bonnie boat, like a bird on the wing,
Onward! the sailors cry;
Carry the lad that’s born to be King
Over the sea to Skye.
Loud the winds howl, loud the waves roar,
Thunderclouds rend the air;
Baffled, our foes stand by the shore,
Follow they will not dare.
Though the waves leap, soft shall ye sleep,
Ocean’s a royal bed.
Rocked in the deep, Flora will keep
Watch by your weary head.
Many’s the lad fought on that day,
Well the claymore could wield,
When the night came, silently lay
Dead on Culloden‘s field.
Burned are their homes, exile and death
Scatter the loyal men;
Yet ere the sword cool in the sheath
Charlie will come again.

Stevenson’s poem

Robert Louis Stevenson‘s 1892 poem, which has been sung to the tune, has the following text:
[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, Rùm on the port,
Eigg on the starboard bow;
Glory of youth glowed in his soul;
Where is that glory now?
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!
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.

2 thoughts on “The music is life post”

  1. I remember hearing this as a kid and it giiving me chills, but the older I get the more I have mix feelings about it. On one hand the romanticism of it is brilliant, how the English never find Billy, but on the other hand, being English, its a soar pill to swallow.

    But saying all that, its a total banger of a song and really showcases the writers ear for melody and lyrics.

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