Oh! Why left I my hame?

Music: Richard John. Words: Robert Gilfillan (1798-1850)
performance time approx 3m 45s
Range S: c' – f'' / A: b♭ – b'♭ / T: e♭ – f' / B: F – b♭
Price code: C
Complexity: *

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Robert Gilfillan actually spent his whole life in Scotland, though other Gilfillans emigrated to the USA and Canada. He was born in Dunfermline, just north of Edinburgh, and his working life included spells as cooper, wine-merchant and tax collector, but his vocation was for song-writing and his songs were popular throughout Scotland. This is the one for which he is best known, and Richard John has done a beautiful job of harmonising it.

Pronunciation guide included


Oh! why left I my hame? Why did I cross the deep?
Oh! why left I the land, where my forefathers sleep?
I sigh for Scotia's shore, and I gaze across the sea,
But I canna get a blink o' my ain countrie.

The palm-tree waveth high, and fair the myrtle springs,
And, to the Indian maid, the bulbul sweetly sings;
But I dinna see the broom wi' its tassels on the lea,[lea = grassland]
Nor hear the lintie's sang o' my ain countrie.[lintie = linnet]

Oh! here no Sabbath bell awakes the Sabbath morn,
Nor song of reapers heard amang the yellow corn:[amang = among]
For the tyrant's voice is here, and the wail of slaverie;
But the sun of freedom shines in my ain countrie.

There's a hope for ev'ry woe, and a balm for ev'ry pain;
But the first joys of our heart come never back again.
There's a track upon the deep, and a path across the sea,
But the weary ne'er return to their ain countrie.

Robert Gilfillan

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