Maid that Tends the Goats (The)

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MAID THAT TENDS THE GOATS, THE (Nighean donn nan gobhar). AKA and see "Brown-haired Goatherdess," "Cliffy Rocks," "Up among yon Clifty Rocks." Scottish, Air (whole time). A Minor. Standard tuning (fiddle). One part: AABB (Davie, Gow/Repository, O'Farrell). Gow (1802) remarks: "Supposed very Ancient." The air was printed in 1784 by the Reverend Patrick McDonald in his collection of Scots songs, under the title of "Nighean doun nan gabhar." Thompson, in his Scottish Airs (1805), stripped Robert Burns original tune for his song "Ca' the Yowes" and substituted instead the melody for "Maid that Tends the Goats." However, "Maid that Tends the Goats" with the "Nighean doun nan gahar" melody and Dudgeon's lyric (below) were earlier printed by Thomson in his Scots Musical Museum (vol. 1, 1787, song 40, p. 40). The melody was also printed by Glasgow publisher James Aird in his 6th collection (1803).

"The Maid That Tends the Goats" is also a poem by William Dudgeon (c. 1753–1813) that begins:

Up amang yon cliffy rocks
Sweetly rings the rising echo
To the maid that tends the goats,
Lilting o’er her native notes.
Hark, she sings, “Young Sandy’s kind,
And he’s promised aye to lo’e me;
Here’s a brooch I ne’er shall tine
Till he’s fairly married to me.
Drive away, ye drone, time,
And bring about our bridal day.

George Eyre-Todd, in his volume Scottish Poetry of the Eighteenth Century (1896) notes that Dudgeon was a farmer's son, born at Tyninham, in East Lothian, Scotland, who himself became a prosperous farmer at Preston in Berwickshire. "He is known to have written several other compositions, none of which, however, has been printed. (Robert) Burns, who met him on his Border tour, speaks of him as 'a poet at times', and he is said to have been an amateur also of painting and music."

The air (with Dudgeon's lyric) was set as a song by composer (Franz) Joseph Haydn (1732–1809).

Source for notated version:

Printed sources: Aird (Selection of Scotch, English, Irish and Foreign Airs, vol. 6), 1803; No. 114, p. 45. Carlin (The Gow Collection), 1986; No. 129. Davie (Davie's Caledonian Repository), Aberdeen, 1829-30; p. 14. Gow (Complete Repository, Part 2), 1802; p. 12. Johnson (Kitchen Musician's No. 10: Airs & Melodies of Scotland's Past), 1992 (revised 2001); p. 11. Martin (Ceol na Fidhle, vols. 5-6), 2000; p. 15. O'Farrell (Pocket Companion, vol. 2), c. 1806; p. 121. McDonald (A Collection of Highland Vocal Airs), 1784; No. 138, p. 21.

Recorded sources: Green Linnet SIF 1077, Capercaillie – "Crosswinds" (1987).

See also listing at:
Hear the tune played by Sofie and Jose MacDonald on youtube.com [1]




Back to Maid that Tends the Goats (The)[edit]