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The Rigs of Rye

[ Roud 985 ; Laws O11 ; G/D 5:1054 ; Ballad Index LO11 ; trad.]

This beautiful Scottish love song has long been popular with thirty-five versions in the Greig-Duncan collection. The earliest record of the song may be a chapbook with the title Ridges of Rye printed in Glasgow by J. & M. Robertson in 1799.

The Clutha sang The Rigs o' Rye in 1974 on their Topic album Scots Ballads, Songs & Dance Tunes. Don Martin commented in the liner notes:

From John Ord’s Bothy Songs and Ballads. Noted down by J.B. Allan, a Glasgow organist, from the singing of an ex-Aberdeenshire ploughman. The simple romantic sentiments of country songs of this type should not be confused with the contrived luxuriance of products of the kailyaird school.

Dick Gaughan sang Rigs o' Rye in 1977 on his Trailer album Kist o' Gold.

Robin Dransfield sang The Rigs o' Rye in 1980 on his Topic album Tidewave. A live recording from the Medway Folk Centre, 14 November 1972 was included as bonus track on the album's CD reissue.

A recording of Fred Jordan singing The Rigs of Rye made by Dave Bryant in 1978 or 1979 was included on his Veteran anthology A Shropshire Lad.

June Tabor sang The Rigs of Rye on her 2007 Topic CD Apples. She commented in her sleeve notes:

Like the broken token ballad (e.g. The Plains of Waterloo), the classic Scottish love song The Rigs of Rye, in which a girl's resolve and loyalty are put to the test, shows at least a belief in the power of true love, whatever the reality might have been.

The Australian family group The Fagans learned The Rigs of Rye from the singing of Robin Dransfield when they lived in England in 1981. They recorded it in 2009 for their CD Milk and Honey Land.

Jim Taylor sang Rigs o' Rye live at the Fife Traditional Singing Festival, Collessie, Fife in May 2009. This recording was included in 2010 on the festival CD There's Bound to Be a Row (Old Songs & Bothy Ballads Vol. 6).

Andy Turner learned The Rigs of Rye from Dick Gaughan's album and from the words in Ord's book Bothy Songs and Ballads. He sang it on 27 July 2012 as the week 49 entry of his project A Folk Song a Week.

Dougie Mackenzie sang The Rigs o' Rye on his 2019 Greentrax album Along the Way. He noted:

A young lad is testing his lass to be sure of her love. This much-loved song can be found in the Greig-Duncan collection Vol 5.


Fred Jordan sings The Rigs of Rye June Tabor sings The Rigs of Rye

'Twas in the month of sweet July
Before the sun had pierced the sky
'Twas down among the rigs o' rye
I heard two lovers talking.

'Twas in the month of sweet July,
Before the sun had pierced the sky;
Down between two rigs of rye
I heard two lovers talking.

Said the laddie, “Lassie I must away
I have no longer time to stay
But I've a word or two to say
If you'd with me tarry,

Said he, “Lassie, I must away,
Along with you I cannot stay,
But I've a word or two to say
If you've the time to listen.”

“Oh, your father of you, oh, he takes great care
Your mother combs down your golden hair
Well your sister says that you'll get no share
If you go with me, a stranger.”

“Of your father he takes great care,
Your mother combs your yellow hair;
But your sisters say you'll get no share
If you follow me, a stranger.”

“Let my father fret and my mother frown
My sister’s words I do disown
Though they were dead and beneath the ground
I’d go with you, a stranger.”

“My father may fret and my mother may frown,
My sisters too I do disown;
If they were all dead and below the ground
I would follow you, a stranger.”

“But, lassie, lassie, your fortune's small
And maybe will have none at all
And you're no match for me at all
Go lay your love on another.”

“Oh lassie, lassie, your portion's small,
Perhaps it may be none at all.
You're not a match for me at all
So go and wed with some other.”

This lassie's courage began to fail
Her rosy cheeks they grew wan and pale
And tears came trickling down like hail
Or a heavy shower in the summer,

The lassie's courage began to fail,
Her rosy cheeks grew wan and pale;
And the tears come trickling down like hail,
Or a heavy shower in the summer.

But he's taken his handkerchief linen fine
He's wiped her teardrops from her eyen
“Oh, Lassie, lassie you will be mine
I only meant to try you.”

This lad he being of courage fine,
He's dried her tears and he's kissed her eyes,
Saying, “Weep no more lass, you shall be mine,
I said it all to try you.”

This couple now, they married are
And they have bairnies one and two
And they live in Brechin the winter through
And in Montrose in the summer.

This couple they are married now,
And they have bairnies one and two;
And they live in Brechin the winter through,
Aye, and in Montrose in summer.