Bonny Moor-Hen (The)

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X:1 T:Bonny Moorhen, The M:6/8 L:1/8 R:Air B:Christie - Traditional Ballad Airs, vol. 2 (Edinburgh, 1881, p. 8) Z:AK/Fiddler's Companion K:Dmin G|Add (d>e)d|c>dc {c}=B2G|Add (d>e)d|c>=Bc d2G| Add d>ed |{d}c=BA (A>B)c|(=B<d)A AGF|TG>FG A2|| G|{G}F>ED D2D|E>DC C2C|{DE}F>ED D>ED|TF>EF A2G| {G}F>ED D>ED|E>DC C2 (D/E/)|{G}(F>E)D D>ED|TF>EF A2||



BONNY MOOR-HEN, THE. English, Scottish; Air (6/8 time). D Minor. Standard tuning (fiddle). AB. The title appears in Henry Robson's list of popular Northumbrian song and dance tunes, which he published c. 1800. Different airs have been used as the vehicle for the words. Christie's tune is different than the one printed by Hogg in Jacobite Relics, and it was also sung to "Baron of Leys (The)", as printed in Buchan's Ballads of the North vol. II (1828, p. 144). The words go:

My bonny moorhen, my bonny moorhen,
She's up in the gray hill down in the glen;
It's when ye gang but the house, when ye gang ben,
Aye drink a health to my bonny moorhen.
My bonny moorhen's gane over the main,
And it will be simmer or she come again;
But when she comes back again, some folk will ken:
And joy be wi' thee my bonny moorhen.

My bonny moorhen has feathers enew,
She's a' fine colours, but nane o' them blue;
She's red, and she's white, and she's green, and she's gray,
My bonny moorhen, come hither away:
Come up by Glanduich, and down by Glendee,
And round by Kinclaven, and hither to me;
For Ronald and Donald are out in the fen,
To breat the wing o' my bonny moorhen.

Hogg thought the words a clear allegory for the Jacobite cause, but opined that a moorcock would be a better symbol than a moorhen, as the colors of the bird are supposed to allude to those in the tartans of the Clan-Stuart.


Additional notes
Source for notated version : - Christie obtained the tune from the singing of "an old cripple man in the Parish of Monquhitter" (Aberdeenshire). His informant only remembered one verse (somewhat different than the usual):

My bonny Moorhen has feathers enew,
There's some of them black, and some of them blue,
There's some of them red, and some of them gray.
My bonny Moorhen come hither away.



Printed sources : - William Christie Jr. (Traditional Ballad Airs, vol. II), Edinburgh, 1881; p. 9.






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