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This song first appeared in The Harp of Renfrewshire, where it was erroneously credited to Mr. John Sim. The words were proven to be by Thomas Lyle (1792-1859). Lyle was born in Paisley and died in Glasgow. Kelvingrove appeared in a volume of his works, Collected Poems and Songs (1837) with these words. The air was printed in the second volume of The Scottish Minstrel (circa 1811), where it was called Kelvin Water.*
The melody dates earlier than The Scottish Minstrel. In the early 18th century, it was used for a song that was "too coarse for our modern ideas."** This refers to the use of the melody for Bonnie Lassie-O (The Shearing's Nae For You) which concerns the rape and pregnancy of a lass..
Kelvingrove is in Glasgow.
Let us haste to Kelvin Grove, bonnie lassie, O
Thro' its mazes let us rove, bonnie lassie, O
Where the roses in their pride
Deck the bonnie dingle side
Where the midnight fairies glide, bonnie lassie, O.
Let us wander by the mill, bonnie lassie, O
To the cove beside the rill, bonnie lassie, O
Where the glens rebound the call
Of the roaring waters' fall
Thro' the mountains rocky hall, bonnie lassie, O.
Oh, Kelvin banks are fair, bonnie lassie, O
When the summer we are there, bonnie lassie, O
There the Maypink's crimson plume
Throws a soft but sweet perfume
Round the yellow banks o' broom, bonnie lassie, O.
Tho' I dare not call thee mine, bonnie lassie, O
As the smile of fortune's thine, bonnie lassie, O
Yet with fortune on my side
I could stay thy father's pride
And win thee for my bride, bonnie lassie, O.
But the frowns of fortune lour, bonnie lassie, O
On thy lover at this hour, bonnie lassie, O
Ere you golden orb of day
Wake the warblers on the spray
From this land I must away, bonnie lassie, O.
Then farewell ton Kelvin Grove, bonnie lassie, O
And adieu to all I love, bonnie lassie, O
To the river winding clear
To the fragrant scented brier
Even to thee of all most dear, bonnie lassie, O.
When upon a foreign shore, bonnie lassie, O
Should I fall midst battle's roar, bonnie lassie, O
Then, Helen, should'st thou hear
Of thy lover on his bier
To his memory shed a tear, bonnie lassie, O.
The Saltire Scottish Song Book and
*Songs of Scotland (Graham)
See Bibliography for full information.
A great version of the tune is on Alastair MacDonald's
Songs From Gretna to Glen Coe