Traditional Scottish Songs
- The Winter Sat Lang

John Mayne, the author of this song, was born in Dumfries in 1759 is best remembered for a poem "The Siller Gun" (The Silver Gun) about a custom in the town of his birth of firing a silver tube or gun which had been presented by James VI. to the incorporated trades, as a prize to the best marksman. Mayne became a printer and followed that trade in Dumfries, Glasgow and London.

John Mayne's songs are full of vigour and sentiment and a certain amount of pathos. This one about a letter from a son who travelling far afield is in that mould.

      The Winter Sat Lang

The winter sat lang on the spring o' the year,
   Our seedtime was late, and our mailing was dear;
My mither tint her heart when she look'd on us a',
   And we thought upon those that were farest awa'.
Oh, were they but here that are farest awa'!
   Oh, were they but here that are dear to us a'!

Our cares would seem light and our sorrow but sma',
   If they were but here that are far frae us a'!
Last week, when our hopes were o'erclouded wi' fear,
   And nae ane at hame the dull prospect to cheer;
Our Johnnie has written, frae far awa' parts,
   A letter that lightens and hauds up our hearts.
He says, "My dear mither, though I be awa',
   In love and affection I'm still wi' ye a';
While I hae a being ye'se aye hae a ha',
   Wi' plenty to keep out the frost and the snaw."

My mither, o'erjoy'd at this change in her state,
   By the bairn she doated on early and late,
Gi'es thanks night and day to the Giver of a',
   There's been naething unworthy o' him that's awa'!
Then here is to them that are far frae us a',
   The friend that ne'er fail'd us, though farest awa'!
Health, peace, and prosperity wait on us a';
   And a blithe comin' hame to the friend that's awa'!

Meaning of unusual words:
tint = lost
farest awa' = furthest away
doated = fond of, ignoring their faults

Return to the Index of Traditional Scottish Songs

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