Night Visiting Song

On Springthyme SPRCD 1043
Shepheard, Spiers & Watson: Over the High Hills

Pete Shepheard: A woman is woken in the night by her lover’s knock at the window. He is but the ghost of her lover and must depart before sunrise to return to the other world. There are many versions of this collected from recent living tradition in Scotland and the evidence of the night visitor being a returning ghostly lover is not always present. The titles vary: I Must Away, The Porter Laddie, Night Visit Song, The Lover's Ghost. This version is largely from the singing of Duncan Johnstone of Torwood, Birnam recorded by Peter Shepheard in 1967 (Springthyme 67.4.3) but with the tune and some text from Bella Higgins and Andra Stewart recorded by Hamish Henderson in Blairgowrie in 1958.

The indicators of the supernatural are the departure of the lover as the cocks begin to crow, the sounding of his trumpet as he leaves and his statement that he "must cross the morning's tempest" - a return journey to the other world. The song may ultimately derive from, or is at least related to, the ballad named by Francis James Child as The Grey Cock (Child 248) and also Sweet William's Ghost (Child 77). (Roud 179: Greig Duncan 4:783; Child 248)

Pete (vocal and melodeon) with Tom (fiddle and vocal) and Arthur (whistle and vocal)

1: Although the night be as dark as dungeon,
No a star to be seen above;
It's over the high hills I'll roam with pleasure,
Into the arums of my true love.

2: He stepped up to her bedroom window,
He's kneeled down silently upon a stone;
And through the window he,s whispered softly,
“My darling dear do you lie alone?”

2: She rose up from her down white pillow,
She's lifted her arums from her lilly white breast;
“Who’se that, who’se that at my bedroom window,
Disturbing me at my long night’s rest?”

4: "'Tis I, 'tis I love, it is your own true lover,
Open the door now and let me in;
For I am come on a long night’s journey,
And I am near drenched unto the skin.”

5: She rose up then wi the greatest of pleasure,
She rose up and she let him in;
And they were locked in each other's arums,
Until that long night was past an gone.

6: And when that long night, it was past and over,
And all the small cocks began to crow;
They've kissed an parted, he's saddled and mounted,
He sounded his trumpet and away did go.

7: "For I must away love, I can no longer tarry,
This morning's tempest I hae tae cross;
It's over the high hills I'll roam wi pleasure,
Since I’ve been in the airms of my own true love.
It's over the high hills I'll roam wi pleasure,
Since I’ve been in the airms of my own true love."

c p 2012 Springthyme Records • Springthyme Music