I didn’t visit Loch Lomond when I was in the UK. But I’ve known the song since high school. It came on iTunes tonight and I got a little teary eyes because I remembered all the lyrics (see the end of the post; I’ve edited them a bit to fit American English). If you’ve ever heard the song, you know it’s a sad lament. It’s open to interpretation to what it’s really about….

  • During the 1745 rising, the British captured two Jacobites and said one could live and one could die. The song is sung by the one who was sentenced to die, taking the low road to the underworld.
  • A soldier and a volunteer soldier were captured by the English. The volunteer could take parole and take the high road that linked London and Edinburgh while the soul of the executed soldier would return along the low road.
  • A lover of a captured rebel is singing this song following a show trial where executed rebels’ headers were set on spikes in a procession along the high road between London and Glasgow while the relatives of the rebels walked back along the low road.

War is horrible. And it’s hard for me to picture war in such a placid, beautiful country like Scotland. Today it’s rolling hills, sheep, and wind. I remember the train ride up to Edinburgh…we started out really early…before the sun was up early…and my friend Anna and I basically got to watch the sun rise of the Scottish hills. It’s something I’ll never forget. I think we were both trying to read but after a while we really just looked out the windows. The best part? I saw two rainbows that morning.

So first, thinking about war in Scotland upsets me and makes me tear up and second, thinking about the beauty of Scotland and all the good times I had there…it makes me tear up too. It makes me pray that one day I’ll return to see Loch Lomond.

    By yon bonnie banks an’ by yon bonnie braes
Where the sun shines bright on Loch Lomond
Where me an’ my true love will ne-er meet again
On the bonnie, bonnie banks o’ Loch Lomon’.

O ye’ll tak’ the high road, and Ah’ll tak’ the low (road)
And Ah’ll be in Scotlan’ afore ye
Fir me an’ my true love will never meet again
On the bonnie, bonnie banks o’ Loch Lomon’.

‘Twas there that we perted in yon shady glen
On the steep, steep sides o’ Ben Lomon’
Whaur in (soft) purple hue, the hielan hills we view
An’ the moon comin’ oot in the gloamin’.

The wee birdies sing an’ the wild flouers spring
An’ in sunshine the waters are sleeping
But the broken heart, it kens nae second spring again
Tho’ the waeful may cease frae their greetin’.