It Was A' For Our Rightfu' King


It was a' for our rightfu' king We left fair Scotland's strand; It was a' for our rightfu' king We e'er saw Irish land, my dear, We e'er saw Irish land. Now a' is done that men can do, And a' is done in vain: My Love and Native Land fareweel, For I maun cross the main, my dear, For I maun cross the main. He turn'd him right and round about, Upon the Irish shore, And gae his bridle-reins a shake, With, Adieu for evermore, my dear, And Adieu for evermore. The soger frae the wars returns, The sailor frae the main; But I hae parted frae my Love, Never to meet again, my dear, Never to meet again. When day is gane, and night is come, And a' folk bound to sleep; I think on him that's far awa, The lee-land night, and weep, my dear, The lee-lang night, and weep.

Listen

Annette Crosbie

About this work

This is a song by Robert Burns. It was written in 1794 and is read here by Annette Crosbie.

More about this song

The song 'It was a' for out rightfu' king' appeared in James Johnson's Scots Musical Museum in 1796. It is thought to be Burns's version of a traditional song called 'Mally Stewart' (c.1746).

The song is inspired by the failed Jacobite uprising of 1745, lead by Prince Charles Edward Stuart (1720 - 1788). The Jacobites sought to restore the deposed Stuart dynasty to the Scottish and English throne.

The Jacobites were defeated at the battle of Culloden in 1746, forcing Bonnie Prince Charlie to flee to the highlands. He eventually reached Europe where he died in exile (in Rome).

In this song a young woman laments the failure of the uprising and her Jacobite lover's absence from Scotland.

Pauline Mackay

Selected for 17 March

Ireland’s ‘Minstrel Boy’, Thomas Moore, was much influenced by Robert Burns. Here, for St Patrick’s Day, is a Burns song, unusually not about exile from Ireland but rather enforced emigration to the ‘Emerald Isle’. The homesick émigré whose lament this is suffers banishment as a defeated Jacobite and will never see ‘fair Scotland’s strand’ or the woman he loves again. Others, as is customary every March 17th, will have more cause to celebrate Ireland and the Irish...

Donny O'Rourke

Skip to top

BBC navigation

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.