Fiery Cross (The)
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FIERY CROSS, THE (An Crann Tàra). AKA and see "Fire Cross Song.” Scottish, Jig. G Minor. Standard tuning (fiddle). AAB. This tune "is from the gentlemen mentioned in the prospectus. The Gaelic words describe the approach of the ancient was signal, or fore-cross, or 'Crantara', with this song accompanying it, so well described by Mr. Scott, in his poem of the Lady of the Lake. The song is first indistinctly heard as wafted upon the gale, or carried off by the roar of a rapid stream; but as it approaches it becomes louder, and leaves no doubt of its being the signal of war, whereupon all becomes bustle and preparation to arm, besides rousing fresh and alert individuals to proceed instantly with the signal to the next station interested" (Fraser). There is some suggestion that the American fiddle tune title "Fire on the Mountain" was derived from the Scottish signal-cross practice. It has also been suggested that the infamous cross-burnings of the Ku Klux Klan were derived from the same tradition.
Source for notated version:
Printed sources: Fraser (The Airs and Melodies Peculiar to the Highlands of Scotland and the Isles), 1816/1874; No. 215, p. 88.