Prose & SongCorrespondence & Poetry

When O’er the Hill the Eastern Star

Title: When O’er the Hill the Eastern Star
First line: When o’er the hill the eastern star
Air: The Lea-Rig
Performer: Kirsteen McCue
Source: SCOSA Vol 4 1805, 195

This song was one of the earliest pieces sent by Burns to Thomson, with two attempts at it being exchanged in 1792, the first year of their correspondence. The following April, the piece occasioned an interesting reflection by Burns on the appropriate treatment of traditional music. The poet notes, ‘Our friend, Clarke, than whom, you know, there is not a better judge of the subject, complains that in the air, “Lee-rigg,” the accent is to be altered.––But, let our National Music preserve its native features.––They are, I own, frequently wild, & unreduceable to the more modern rules ; but on that very eccentricity, perhaps, depends a great part of their effect.––’ The text is based on an older song, which Burns himself attributed to Robert Fergusson, with Thomson’s version featuring a setting by Joseph Haydn.

Play Song:

Download Song:

When O’er the Hill the Eastern Star (393 downloads )

Recorded at The Green Door studio in Glasgow, 2016 (engineer: Sam Smith).