Nithsdale's Welcome Hame

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NITHSDALE'S WELCOME HAME. Scottish, Air (whole time). D Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AAB. The melody has been credited to (by Stenhouse and John Glen) Robert Riddell (1755-1794) of Glenriddel, a neighbor of Robert Burns (1759-1796) near Dumfries. He was an enthusiastic, although mediocre, musician and composer, but nonetheless, it was one of a number of songs from the Scots Musical Museum that composer Franx Joseph Haydn set for voice, violin & keyboard [H. 31a/125]. Burns wrote words to Riddell's air for Lady Winifred Maxwell Constable (1736-1801) in celebration of her illustrious Jacobite family. William Maxwell, the 5th Earl of Nithsdale, was forced to forfeit his lands and title to the Crown following his involvement in the 1715 Rebellion. Both were restored to his son, the 6th Earl, and subsequently his granddaughter Winifred.

Winifred had married William Haggerston Constable in 1758 and moved back to Scotland to rebuild her ancestral home near Kirkudbright, Terreagles. It was here that Burns visited her several times and was inspired to write this poem for her.

The noble Maxwells and their powers
Are coming o'er the border,
And they'll gae big Terreagles' towers
And set them a' in order.
And they declare Terreagles fair,
For their abode they choose it;
There's no a heart in a' the land
But's lighter at the news o't.

Tho' stars in skies may disappear,
And angry tempests gather;
The happy hour may soon be near
That brings us pleasant weather:
The weary night o' care and grief
May hae a joyfu' morrow;
So dawning day has brought relief,
Fareweel our night o' sorrow.

Source for notated version:

Printed sources: Johnson (The Scots Musical Museum, Vol. IV), 1792; No. 364, p. 375.

Recorded sources:

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