As Julie Fowlis puts it in the introduction to this video, sometimes it’s a beautiful melody that grabs you and sometimes is a great story. In the case of this song, it was both for me. I first heard it in a version called A Mhairead Og sung by the Scottish singer James Graham. Its a beautiful lament. If you’re impatient, the song beings about two minutes into this clip.
A Chatrion’ Òg
A Chatrion’ òg ‘s tu rinn mo leòn,
‘s tu dh’fhàg fo bhròn ‘s fo mhulad mi,
mi ‘n diugh ‘s an dè air cnoc leam fhèin
a’ sileadh dheur ‘s mi turraman.
Ach ‘s i mo mhàthair rinn an call
nuair chuir i shealg na tunnaig mi.
Nuair ràinig mi an linne chaol
‘s ann bha mo ghaol a’ sruladh innt’.
‘S e an gunna caol a rinn do leòn
‘s cha dèan mi òirleach tuilleadh leatha.
Ged thèid mi suas dhan bhail’ ud shuas
cha bhi mo chuairt ach diomain ann.
Ged thèid mi dhan taigh ud shìos
cha chuir Catrìona furan orm.
O Rìgh nan Dùl cùm rium mo chiall
Cha robh mi riamh cho cunnartach,
‘s a Chatrìon’ òg ‘s tu rinn mo leòn
‘S tu dh’fhàg fo bhròn ‘s fo mhulad mi.
Bluebells in Perthshire, Scotland
Written as a lament for the Scots killed at the Battle of Flodden in 1513. The tune is usually only played by a solo piper at funerals, and because of this, some Scots regard it as bad luck to play this tune on any other occasion. Below are the complete lyrics and a performance by Dick Gaughan.
Although the original words are unknown, the melody was recorded in c. 1615-25 in the John Skene of Halyards Manuscript as “Flowres of the Forrest”, though it may have been composed earlier.
The Floo’ers o’the Forest
I’ve heard them lilting, at our yowe-milking,
Lasses a-lilting afore the dawn o’ day;
Noo they are moaning on ilka green loaning;
“The Floo’ers o’ the Forest are a’ wede away.
As buchts, in the morning, nae blythe lads are scorning;
The lasses are lonely and dowie and wae.
Nae daffin’, nae gabbin’, but sighing and sobbing,
Ilk ane lifts her leglen, and hies her away.
In hairst, at the shearing, nae youths now are jeering,
The bandsters are lyart, and runkled and grey.
At fair or at preaching, nae wooing, nae fleeching,
The Floo’ers o’ the Forest are a’ wede away.
Cara Dillon sings this lament. It is supposedly sung by a mother whose son, a priest, has turned to the Protestant faith, and she is calling him back.
Fill fill a rún ó
Fill a rún ó
is ná h’imigh uaim
Fill orm a chuisle ‘s a stóir
agus chifidh tú ‘n glór má fhillean tú
Shiuil mise thal is a bhus
i mólta ghrainn óige a rugadh mé
‘sni fhaca mé niontas go fóill
mar an sagart ó Dónaill ‘na mhinistir
Dhiultigh tú Peadar is Pól
már gheall ar an ór ‘s as an airgid
Dhiultigh tú banrion ná glóir
agus d’iompaig tú go cóta an mhinistir