The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #4374   Message #23724
Posted By: Helen
13-Mar-98 - 06:15 PM
Thread Name: Lyr Req: Water Kelpie/Oran Tlaidh an Eich-Uisge
Subject: REQ Water Kelpie/Oran Tlaidh an Eich-Uisge
I play two tunes on the Celtic harp as a mini-medley. They are called the Water Kelpie, and the Great Silkie. I can find the words of the second one but the only reference I can find in the DT database refers to a tune called:

Oran Tlaidh an Eich-Uisge ("Lullaby of the Water- Horse") with reference to a tune called Can You Sew Cushions.

Does anyone know the lyrics of the Water Kelpie tune or know where I can find them? I have always known *somehow* that the tune was about a sea creature which has turned into a human and then turns back again to its original form, but I don't know where I found this information or whether I have ever seen the lyrics or only heard the story.

Any help would be appreciated.


This is what I found in the database.

O can ye sew Cushions, and can ye sew Sheets,
nd can ye sing balluloo when the bairn greets?
And hee and baw birdie, and hee and baw lamb,
And hee and baw birdie, my bonnie wee lamb.
Hee O, wee O, what wou'd I do wi' you?
Black's the life that I lead wi' you;
Monny O you, little for to gie you,
Hee O, wee O, what would I do wi' you.
________________________________________________________ SMM V (1796), 456 (no. 444), with music; supplied by Burns [punctuation added]. Stenhouse, in his notes (394) gives a second verse:

I've placed my cradle on yon holly top,
And aye as the wind blew, my cradle did rock;
O hush a ba, baby, O ba lilly loo,
And hee and ba, birdie, my bonnie wee dow.
Hee O! wee O! What will I do wi' you, &c.

The complete song in Chambers PRS (1847), 177, m.; (1870), 14; music p. 15, from SMM, as is Ford CR 127 (4 stanzas of 8 lines, chorus), Montgomerie SNR 127 (4x4, = 1 st. chorus, with music also. ODNR 61-2 (no. 22), under "Hush-a-bye, baby" [as in Halliwell NRE (1842), 102 (CLXVII); first ref. to Mother Goose's Melody, c. 1765] which may be connected with the 2nd stanza B[from Stenhouse]. Lady Nairne added 2 stanzas. See Lucy Broadwood in FSJ (JFSS) no. 19 (V.2), 1915, p. 243, identifying the air as = Crodh Chailein; and further, the tune and the words of the chorus recall another Highland song, "Oran Tlaidh an Eich-Uisge" ("Lullaby of the Water- Horse") noted by Frances Tolmie in Skye (FSJ no. 16 [IV.3], 1911, 160): The neighing refrain "Hee-o, wee-o," etc. ["Heigh O, heugh O" in MacLeod-Boulton, Songs of the North, I.14- 15], in the English text seems quite pointless; but, when compared with the Gaelic original, the grafting together of the two Highland lullabies becomes clear and the chorus invested with some importance, seeing that in the Highland "Water-Horse" we have an ancient Norse survival, and that the poor "Kelpie," neighing his child to sleep, was the lonely husband of "brown-haired Morag" who, homesick, fled, to live on dry land once more; regardless of the tender lamentations of her forsaken merman. @Scots @lullaby filename[ CUSHION2 MS