Skye Boat SongDec 07, 2016
While it’s uncertain who originally wrote the melody for “Skye Boat Song” the earliest published lyrics were written by Sir Harold Boulton in the late 1800s.
His lyrics tell the story of how Bonnie Prince Charlie escaped after his defeat in 1745. With the aid of Flora MacDonald, he dressed as a serving maid and rowed in a small boat across the ocean to Skye.
Since the 1800’s the tune has been played by artists such as Rod Stewart, The Corries, and recently it was adapted by Bear McCreary for the TV show Outlander.
Original Skye Boat Song lyrics
Speed, bonnie boat, like a bird on the wing, onward! the sailors cry;
Carry the lad that’s born to be King over the sea to Skye.
Loud the winds howl, loud the waves roar, thunderclaps rend the air;
Baffled, our foes stand by the shore, follow they will not dare.
Though the waves leap, soft shall ye sleep, ocean’s a royal bed.
Rocked in the deep, Flora will keep watch by your weary head.
Many’s the lad fought on that day, well the claymore could wield,
When the night came, silently lay dead on Culloden’s field.
Burned are their homes, exile and death scatter the loyal men;
Yet ere the sword cool in the sheath Charlie will come again.
Preview on the Bagpipes
Here’s a video of the entire tune played on the bagpipes to help give you a better idea of what it sounds like before you learn to play the tune.
Sheet Music and Tutorial
If you're already enrolled in the Bagpipe Master course, here’s the link to check out the full step-by-step tutorial and download the sheet music: