Scots Sangs Fur Schools

Traditional and new Scots songs 
and tunes for use in Scottish schools

MCCRIMMOND'S FAREWELL

MacCrimmon's Farewell (or MacCrimmon’s Lament, or MacCrimmond Shall Never Return)


A lament of Jacobite times, with a confused story attached.


Roon Cuillin’s peaks the mist is sailin

The banshee croons her note o wailin

My old blue een wi sorrow are streamin

For him that shall never return, MacCrimmon


Chorus

No more, no more, no more forever

In war and peace shall return MacCrimmon

No more, no more, no more forever

Shall love or gold bring back MacCrimmon


The beast on the brae is mournfully moanin

The brooks in the hollow are plaintively mournin

My old blue een wi sorrow are streamin

For him that shall never return, MacCrimmon


MacLeod's wizard flag from the grey castle sallies

The rowers are unseated, and moored are the galleys

Gleam war axe and broadsword, clang target and quiver

For him that shall never return, MacCrimmon



During the Jacobite Rising in 1745 the chief of Clan Macleod supported the Hanoverians against the Jacobites. As Macleod's piper, Donald Ban MacCrimmon took an active part in the conflicts against the Jacobite forces. Donald Ban was captured on December 23, 1745 following the Hanoverian defeat at Inverurie. During his captivity, the pipers in the Jacobite army went on strike, refusing to play while the "King of Pipers" was held captive. According to popular tradition, Donald Ban wrote his well known lament, ‘Cha till, cha till, cha till, MacCruimein’ (meaning literally ‘MacCrimmon will not, will not, will not return’.

One version of the story has Donald Ban writing the tune because he foresaw his death at the Rout of Moy in 1746. But it was not he, but Lord Loudon’s piper, who was shot at Moy.

It is not known who made this English language lyric based on the Gaelic original. F Murray Neil, The Scots Fiddle, 1991, says the Gaelic song “is thought to have been composed by his sister on the eve of his departure to fight for Bonnie Prince Charlie”. But as said above, he in fact fought on the other side. It is unclear when and why the original was made.

The English text can vary greatly from singer to singer.

Sir Walter Scott wrote a wordy florid poem very loosely based on the Gaelic song. Singer Lizzie Higgins, daughter of Jeannie Robertson, took the first three lines of Scott's poem to make a new verse to add to her mother's version of the song, the 'wizard flag' lines above.