Mary's Dream
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Lesley Nelson-Burns


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The air is a traditional one, the words were written by John Lowe in 1772. Lowe became a tutor to the family of Mr. McGhie or Airs. The subject of the song was Mary, one of McGhie's daughters. She was engaged to Alexander Miller, a surgeon, who was lost at sea.

Lowe emigrated to America where he became a tutor for the family of George Washington's brother. He later opened an academy in Fredericksburg, Virginia, but left it to become an Anglican minister. He married a Virginia woman whose "gross misconduct broke his heart and caused his untimely death, in 1798, in the forty-eight year of his age."*

There is some controversy as to the origin of the song and tune. An older version was said to have been written in Scottish dialect, but C. K. Sharpe stated that version was, in fact, a forgery by Allan Cunningham. One source ascribed the tune to J. G. C. Schetky, an Edinburgh composer, but his family said he did not write it.*

The moon had climb'd the highest hill
Which rises o'er the source of Dee,
And from the eastern summit shed
Her silver light on tow'r and tree;
When Mary laid her down to sleep,
Her thoughts on Sandy far at sea;
When soft and low, a voice was heard,
Say, Mary weep, no more for me!

She from her pillow gently raised
Her head, to ask who there might be,
And saw young Sandy shivering stand,
With visage pale, and hollow e'e.
O Mary dear, cold is my clay;
It lies beneath a stormy sea.
Far, far from thee, I sleep in death,
So, Mary, weep no more for me!

Three stormy nights and stormy days,
We toss'd upon the raging main;
And long we strove our bark to save,
But all our striving was in vain.
Even then, when horror chill'd my blood,
The storm is past, and I at rest;
So, Mary, weep no more for me!

O, maiden dear, thyself prepare;
We soon shall meet upon that shore
Where love is free from doubt and care,
And thou and I shall part no more!
Loud crow'd the cock, the shadow fled;
No more of Sandy could she see:
But soft the passing spirit said:
Sweet Mary, weep no more for me!
Related Links
From Songs of Scotland
The Royal Edition, Volume I
*Songs of Scotland (Graham)
See Bibliography for full information.