A great piece and fun to sing. :)

The Choir of New College, Oxford, under the direction of Edward Higginbottom, perform the Scottish folk song ‘The Skye Boat Song’, which tells of the escape to safety of Bonnie Prince Charlie to the Isle of Skye. Having been defeated in the Battle of Culloden (the final nail in the coffin of the unsuccessful Jacobite Rising), the so-called ‘lad… born to be king’ fled his pursuers in a small boat, disguised as the serving-maid of a woman called Flora MacDonald.

Though Sir Harold Boulton’s lyrics to an air collected by Annie MacLeod only became ‘The Sky Boat Song’ in 1884, the song quickly became so popular (particularly amongst families with Jacobite leanings or sympathies) that people began (falsely) to recall having heard it sung as small children and to claim that the English text was only a translation of old Gaelic words.


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 in 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.