Smile In Your Sleep

Words : Jim McLean / Music : Trad.
Lyric as sung by Dick Gaughan

Hush, hush, time tae be sleepin
Hush, hush, dreams come a-creepin
Dreams o peace an o freedom
Sae smile in your sleep, bonnie baby

Once our valleys were ringin
Wi sounds o our children singin
But nou sheep bleat till the evenin
An shielings stand empty an broken

Hush, hush, time tae be sleepin
Hush, hush, dreams come a-creepin
Dreams o peace an o freedom
Sae smile in your sleep, bonnie baby

We stood, wi heads bowed in prayer
While factors laid our cottages bare
The flames fired the clear mountain air
An many lay dead in the mornin

Hush, hush, time tae be sleepin
Hush, hush, dreams come a-creepin
Dreams o peace an o freedom
Sae smile in your sleep, bonnie baby

Where was our fine Highland mettle,
Our men once sae fearless in battle?
They stand, cowed, huddled like cattle
Soon tae be shipped owre the ocean

Hush, hush, time tae be sleepin
Hush, hush, dreams come a-creepin
Dreams o peace an o freedom
Sae smile in your sleep, bonnie baby

No use pleading or praying
All hope gone, no hope of staying
Hush, hush, the anchor's a-weighing
Don't cry in your sleep, bonnie baby

Hush, hush, time tae be sleepin
Hush, hush, dreams come a-creepin
Dreams o peace an o freedom
Sae smile in your sleep, bonnie baby


Song Notes

Digital Tradition describes this as an "old Scots lullaby". That is about as accurate as describing The Peatbog Soldiers as a song about German agricultural workers. How anyone who has read the text could reach that opinion is quite beyond my poor wee human intelligence. I suppose the fact that it has the words "hush", "sleep" and "baby" rendered the rest of the song irrelevent to whoever at Digital Tradition decides these things.

It is in fact a bitterly angry modern song by Jim McLean about the savagery and mass deportations of what is now called the Highland Clearance during the 19th century when whole tribal communities were destroyed and the people shipped by force to Cape Breton and Nova Scotia. This was the Final Solution to the problem of the Gaels' tenacious holding on to our older native way of life and culture. People refer to the Highlands of Scotland as Europe's last great wilderness - it is a man-made wilderness. 200 years ago it was widely populated with our people.

I've never recorded this but sing it live sometimes when the spirit moves me. Has been recorded by Alistair MacDonald, among others.

For anyone wishing to find out about this terrible time, 'The Highland Clearances' by John Prebble is a good place to start.

And, yes, I have pointed out all the above to the folks at Digital Tradition, numerous times, but they expressed complete indifference and made it clear that they had no intention of correcting the ridiculous inaccuracy. Jim McLean's none too happy about it.

celtic knotwork


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