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Robert Burns

Mark Clavey: vocals, guitar
Mary Hanover: vocals, hammered dulcimer
Rachel Gaither-Vaughan: lead vocals, fiddle

…contrary to what the dude on the recording says, Burns didn’t write this song per se. The song predated Burns, and has appeared in “Jacobite Relics” (Hogg, 1821), “Songs of Scotland” (Cunningham, 1825), and the Bodleian Library Broadside Ballads. That said, we obtained the version we recorded from “The Complete Works of Robert Burns” (#211)… which includes songs he collected and adapted/reworked/tweaked. In the case of “Over the Water To Charlie”, the second and most of the third verse are Burns’. It is a perennial in Scottish anthologies, a beautiful song of loyalty and devotion to the hopeless but romantic notion of Bonnie Prince Charlie retaking the Scottish throne. Like most great songs, the melody sees additional use in two other great songs – “The Parish Of Dunkeld” and “Pat Murphy Of the Irish Brigade”.


Come boat me o’er, come row me o’er. Come boat me o’er tae Charlie. I’ll gie John Ross another bawbee to boat me o’er tae Charlie.

We’ll over the water, we’ll over the sea. We’ll over the water tae Charlie. Come weal, come woe, we’ll gather and go, and live or die wi’ Charlie.

Well I lo’e well my Charlie’s name, tho’ some there be abhor him. But O tae see the Devil gaun hame wi’Charlie’s foes afore him.

We’ll over the water, &c

I swear and vow by the moon and stars, and the sun that shines sae dearly – if If I had twenty thousand lives, I’d die as aften for Charlie.

We’ll over the water, &c

O once I had sons, but now I have nane, I treated them all sae sarely. But I would bear them all again and lose them all for Charlie.

We’ll over the water, &c

Come boat me over, come row me o’er. Come boat me over tae Charlie. Hear the call once but never again – to ferry me over tae Charlie.

We’ll over the water, &c