As I came o’er the Cairney Mount

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AS I CAME O'ER THE CAIRNEY MOUNT. AKA and see "Hielan Laddie (The)," "Hieland Laddie," "Hielnlad," "Highland Lassie (The)." Scottish, Air (cut time). D Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AABB. The song appears in James Johnson's Scots Musical Museum (vol. 5, 1797, p. 480), a sanitized version of an older and more bawdy song (which appears in Burns' The Merry Muses of Caledonia (1799). The latter begins:

As I came o'er the Cairney mount,
And down amang the blooming heather,
The Highland laddie drew his dirk
And sheath'd it in my wanton leather.

O my bonnie, bonnie Highland lad,
My handsome, charming Highland laddie;
When I am sick and like to die,
He'll row me in his Highland plaidie.

The 'Museum' version goes:

As I came o'er the Cairney mount
And down amang the blooming heather,
Kindly stood the milkin-shiel
To shelter frae the stormy weather.

O my bonie Highland lad,
My winsome, weelfar'd Highland laddie;
Wha wad mind the wind and rain,
Sae weel row'd in his tartan plaidie.

Burns wrote to his friend and publisher Thomson in September, 1793, "There is a third tune, and what Oswald calls 'The Old Highland Laddie,' which pleases me more than either of them; it is sometimes called 'Jinglin' Johnie,' that being the air of an old humorous bawdy song of that name—you will find it in the Museum." Burns refers to James Oswald's Curious Collection of Scots Tunes (1740), in which the song is dedicated to the Duke of Perth. The piece is also entitled 'The Highland Laddie' and is very similar to the song, 'The German Lardy', also collected by Burns for the 'Museum'. In the Genriddel manuscript Burns notes: "The 'Highland Laddie' is an excellent but somewhat licentious song beginning, 'As I cam' o'er the Cairney Mount.'"

See also the closely related "Bessie's Haggis."

Source for notated version:

Printed sources: Aird (Selection of Scotch, English, Irish and Foreign Airs, vol. 3), 1788; No. 425, p. 164.

Recorded sources:




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