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Mary's Dream

From ‘The Songs of Scotland Prior to Burns’ (1890) by Robert Chambers
Written in 1772 by John Lowe (1750-1798) Air composed by John Rolfe (1763-1837)
arr. by Lainey Dempsey (2021), Ebow by Stevie Jones (2023)

Mary's Dream

The moon had climbed the
highest hill
While risin’ o'er the source of
And fae that eastern summit
Her silver light o’er tower and
When Mary laid her head tae
With thoughts o’ Sandy far at
Soft a passing spirit said
“Sweet Mary, weep nae mair
for me."

"Three stormy nights and
stormy days
We tossed upon that ragin’
And long we strove
oor bark to save,
But a’ oor striving was in vain.
"Even then when horror chilled
my blood,
My heart was filled with love
for thee;
The storm has past, I am at rest,
So, Mary, weep nae mair for

She fae her pillow gently raised
Her head to ask who there
might be,
She saw young Sandy shivering
Wi’ visage pale and hollow e’e.
"Oh, Mary dear, cold is my clay,
It lies beneath the stormy sea,
Far, far fae thee,
I sleep in death,
Sweet Mary, weep nae mair
for me.

2 Mary’s Dream_edited.jpg

"Oh maiden dear, thyself
We soon shall meet upon that
Where love is free from doubt
or care,
And thou and I need part nae
Loud crowed the cock. the
shadow fled,
Nae mair o’ Sandy could she
And soft the passing spirit said,
"Sweet Mary, weep no more
for me."

This was the first song I sang in public at a 3D real life singing session in Donegal after countless 2D lockdown zoom sessions. I’d been planning on singing ‘Skyscraper Wean’ but thankfully swerved to ‘Mary’s Dream’ at the last minute. I remember clutching my drink to my chest, closing my eyes and letting the story unfold. Once I was in it, there was no coming back till the end. That’s one of my favourite things about singing. You get to travel.


Many years ago, I went to a Celtic Connections singing circle in Glasgow. ‘We’ll just listen’ was the plan. I walked in the door and Sheila Stewart announced, “You’re a singer”. As soon as the song that was on-the-go finished she asked me to sing. I never even thought of saying no. Terrified, I considered ‘She Moved Through The Fair’ and ‘The Blacksmith’ then promptly launched in to ‘Delaney’s Donkey’. The people laughed and cheered and I thought I’d got away with it until Sheila said to me and the room, “Well that’s you done your party piece. Maybe next time you’ll sing a real song”. She’d seen right through me. I’ve always been grateful for that lesson. It’s the reason that all those years later I never sang ‘Skyscraper Wean’ in Donegal. ‘Skyscraper Wean’ is a fantastic song but it would not have been my bravest choice in that moment. A lot of hiding can happen behind a grin.....though there was no hiding from Sheila Stewart!

John Lowe was born in Galloway, a son of the gardener at Kenmure Castle. He was employed as a tutor to the daughters of Mr. Macghie who owned the Airds Estate. While residing there, Miss Mary Macghie’s lover drowned at sea. As a result of this tragedy and the grieving of Mary, John Lowe was inspired to write the words to this song. Lowe actually originally wrote a Scots version of Mary’s Dream which I recently found but I don’t like the writing as much as I do in this version.

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