Tag Archive: Songs by Loreena Mckennitt


Where dips the rocky highland
Of Sleuth Wood in the lake
There lies a leafy island
Where flapping herons wake
The drowsy water-rats
There we’ve hid our fairy vats
Full of berries
And of reddest stolen cherries.

Chorus:
Come away, oh human child
To the waters and the wild
With a fairy hand in hand
For the world’s more full of weeping
Than you can understand.

Where the wave of moonlight glosses
The dim grey sands with light
By far off furthest Rosses
We foot it all the night
Weaving olden dances
Mingling hands and mingling glances
Till the moon has taken flight
To and fro we leap
And chase the frothy bubbles
While the world is full of troubles
And is anxious in its sleep.

Chorus

Where the wandering water gushes
From the hills above Glen-Car
In pools among the rushes
That scarce could bathe a star
We seek for slumbering trout
And whispering in their ears
Give them unquiet dreams
Leaning softly out
From ferns that drop their tears
Over the young streams.

Chorus

Away with us he’s going
The solemn-eyed
He’ll hear no more the lowing
Of the calves on the warm hillside
Or the kettle on the hob
Sing peace into his breast
Or see the brown mice bob
Round and round the oatmeal chest.

For he comes, the human child
To the waters and the wild
With a fairy hand in hand
For the world’s more full of weeping
Than you can understand.

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1. Night of the Alhambra
2. Dante’s Prayer

This artist is not only self-managed, self-produced and an acclaimed singer/composer, but is also the head of her own internationally successful record label, Quinlan Road.

In a recording career spanning nearly two decades, multi-platinum artist Loreena McKennitt has won worldwide critical acclaim for world music she describes as “Eclectic Celtic.” she’s released a DVD document of her performance at Alhambra palace in Granada, Spain.

This is the same performance that has been running on PBS station pledge drives for the last year, but with a double CD included. McKennitt’s renditions of songs from An Ancient Muse and her earlier albums are impeccable.

“On Raglan Road” here sung by Canadian singer-songwriter Loreena McKennitt, is a well-known Irish ballad from a poem by Irish poet Patrick Kavanagh named for Raglan Road in Ballsbridge, Dublin.

It was set to the music of the Irish traditional song “The Dawning of The Day” when the poet met Irish singer Luke Kelly of the Dubliners, who is the song’s most famous interpreter. Loreena, in this concert from The Alhambra in Granada, Spain, sings the song beautifully and with great feeling for the lyrics, a wonderful performance.

On raglan road on an autumn day,
I saw he first and knew
That his dark hair would weave a snare
That i might one day rue.
I saw the danger and yet i walked
Along the enchanted way
And i said let grief be a falling leaf
At the dawning of the day.

On grafton street in november,
We tripped lightly along the ledge
Of a deep ravine where can be seen
The worst of passions pledged.
The queen of hearts still baking tarts
And i not making hay,
For i loved too much; by such and such
Is happiness thrown away.

I gave he the gifts of the mind.
I gave he the secret sign
Thats known to all the artists who have
Known true gods of sound and time.
With word and tint i did not stint.
I gave him reams of poems to say
With his own dark hair and his own name there
Like the clouds over fields of may.

On a quiet street where old ghosts meet,
I see he walking now away from me,
So hurriedly. my reason must allow,
For i have wooed, not as i should
A creature made of clay.
When the angel woos the clay, hell lose
His wings at the dawn of the day.

On either side of the river lie
Long fields of barley and of rye,
That clothe the world and meet the sky;
And thro’ the field the road run by
To many-towered Camelot;
And up and down the people go,
Gazing where the lilies blow
Round an island there below,
The island of Shalott.

A bow-shot from her bower-eaves,
He rode between the barley sheaves,
The sun came dazzling thro’ the leaves,
And flamed upon the brazen greaves
Of bold Sir Lancelot.
A red-cross knight for ever kneel’d
To a lady in his shield,
That sparkled on the yellow field,
Beside remote Shalott.

She left the web, she left the loom,
She made three paces taro’ the room,
She saw the water-lily bloom,
She saw the helmet and the plume,
She looked down to Camelot.
Out flew the web and floated wide;
The mirror cracked from side to side;
“The curse is come upon me,” cried
The Lady of Shalott.

In the stormy east-wind straining,
The pale yellow woods were waning,
The broad stream in his banks complaining.
Heavily the low sky raining
Over towered Camelot;
Down she came and found a boat
Beneath a willow left afloat,
And round about the prow she wrote
The Lady of Shalott

Who is this? And what is here?
And in the lighted palace near
Died the sound of royal cheer;
And they crossed themselves for fear,
All the Knights at Camelot;
But Lancelot mused a little space
He said, “She has a lovely face;
God in his mercy lend her grace,
The Lady of Shalott.”


A farmer there lived in the north country
a hey ho bonny o
And he had daughters one, two, three
The swans swim so bonny o
These daughters they walked by the river’s brim
a hey ho bonny o
The eldest pushed the youngest in
The swans swim so bonny o

Oh father, oh daddy, here swims a swan
with a hey ho and a bonny o
It’s very like a gentle woman
the swans swim so bonny o
They placed her on the bank to dry
with a hey ho and a bonny o
There came a harper passing by
the swans swim so bonny o

He made harp pins of her fingers fair
with a hey ho and a bonny o
He made harp strings of her golden hair
the swans swim so bonny o
He made a harp of her breast bone
with a hey ho and a bonny o
And straight it began to play alone
the swans swim so bonny o

And there does sit my father the King
with a hey ho and a bonny o
And yonder sits my mother the Queen
the swans swim so bonny o
And there does sit my brother Hugh
with a hey ho and a bonny o
And by him William, sweet and true
the swans swim so bonny o
And there does sit my false sister, Anne
with a hey ho and a bonny o
Who drowned me for the sake of a man
the swans swim so bonny o

O bonny Portmore, you shine where you stand
And the more I think on you the more I think long
If I had you now as I had once before
All the lords in Old England would not purchase Portmore.

O bonny Portmore, I am sorry to see
Such a woeful destruction of your ornament tree
For it stood on your shore for many’s the long day
Till the long boats from Antrim came to float it away.

O bonny Portmore, you shine where you stand
And the more I think on you the more I think long
If I had you now as I had once before
All the Lords in Old England would not purchase Portmore.

All the birds in the forest they bitterly weep
Saying, “Where shall we shelter or where shall we sleep?”
For the Oak and the Ash, they are all cutten down
And the walls of bonny Portmore are all down to the ground.

O bonny Portmore, you shine where you stand
And the more I think on you the more I think long
If I had you now as I had once before
All the Lords of Old England would not purchase Portmore.

Another great song from Loreena McKennit. The Mystic’s Dream from “The Mask and Mirror”.
Lyrics:

A clouded dream on an earthly night
Hangs upon the crescent moon
A voiceless song in an ageles light
Sings at the coming dawn
Birds in flight are calling there
Where the heart moves the stones
It’s ther that my heart is longing
All for the love of you

A painting hangs on an ivy wall
Nestled in the emerald moss
The eyes declare a truce of trust
And then it draws me far away
Where deep in the desert twilight
Sand melts in pools of the sky
When darkness lays her crimson cloak
Your lamps will call me home

And so it’s there my homage’s due
Clutched by the still of the night
And now I feel you move
Every breath is full
So it’s there my homage’s due
Clutched by the still of the night
Even the distance feels so near
All for the love of you.

Gloucester Cathedral Choir – In the Bleak Midwinter

Julie Andrews — In the Bleak Mid-Winter, 1973 Christmas Special

Celtic Woman-In The Bleak Midwinter/The First Noel

Penelope’s Song”, from the DVD Nights From The Alhambra (2007) and the album, An Ancient Muse (2006).

Now that the time has come
Soon gone is the day
There upon some distant shore
You’ll hear me say

Long as the day in the summer time
Deep as the wine dark sea
I’ll keep your heart with mine.
Till you come to me.

There like a bird I’d fly
High through the air
Reaching for the sun’s full rays
Only to find you there

And in the night when our dreams are still
Or when the wind flows free
I’ll keep your heart with mine
Till you come to me

Now that the time has come
Soon gone is the day
There upon some distant shore
You’ll hear me say

Long as the day in the summer time
Deep as the wine dark sea
I’ll keep your heart with mine.
Till you come to me

I spent a most haunting New Year’s Eve in Doolin, County Clare, Ireland some years ago, and was moved by the antiquity of some of the celebrations. Yet I was met by deep reminders that they nay be the remnants of the old world meeting the “new”. – L.M

The thundering waves are calling me home to you
The pounding sea is calling me home to you
On a dark new year’s night
On the west coast of Clare
I heard your voice singing
Your eyes danced the song
Your hands played the tune
T’was a vision before me.

We left the music behind and the dance carried on
As we stole away to the seashore
We smelt the brine, felt the wind in our hair
And with sadness you paused.

Suddenly I knew that you’d have to go
Your world was not mine, your eyes told me so
Yet it was there I felt the crossroads of time
And I wondered why.

As we cast our gaze on the tumbling sea
A vision came o’er me
Of thundering hooves and beating wings
In clouds above.

Turning to go I heard you call my name,
You were like a bird in a cage spreading its wings to fly
“The old ways are lost,” you sang as you flew
And I wondered why.

The thundering waves are calling me home to you
The pounding sea is calling me home unto you
The thundering waves are calling me home to you
The pounding sea is calling me home unto you
The thundering waves are calling me home to you
The pounding sea is calling me home unto you

This piece was inspired by the imagery of a Japanese tradition which celebrated the souls of the departed by sending candle-lit lanterns out on waterways leading to the ocean, sometimes in little boats; along with the imagery of the Celtic All Souls Night celebrations, at which time huge bonfires were lit not only to mark the new year, but to warm the souls of the departed. – L.M.


Bonfire dot the rolling hillsides
Figures dance around and around
To drums that pulse out echoes of darkness
Moving to the pagan sound.

Somewhere in a hidden memory
Images float before my eyes
Of fragrant nights of straw and of bonfires
And dancing till the next sunrise.

Chorus
I can see the lights in the distance
Trembling in the dark cloak of night
Candles and lanterns are dancing, dancing
A waltz on All Souls Night.

Figures of cornstalks bend in the shadows
Held up tall as the flames leap high
The green knight holds the holly bush
To mark where the old year passes by.

Chorus

Bonfires dot the rolling hillsides —
Figures dance around and around
To drums that pulse out echoes of darkness
Moving to the pagan sound.

Standing on the bridge that crosses
The river that goes out to the sea
The wind is full of a thousand voices
They pass by the bridge and me.

Chorus – 2x

December 18, 1995, Trans-Siberian Railway:
Dante’s The Devine Comedy keeps running through my mind as I gaze out at the landscape passing before me, thinking of the people who inhabit it and how they share this human condition… Are we helping or hurting each other?… How has the West come to this place of transition? Honourably? What are we bringing them? What are their expectations? Are our lives really what they imagine? We always want to believe there is a place better than our own…

When the dark wood fell before me
And all the paths were overgrown
When the priests of pride say there is no other way
I tilled the sorrows of stone

I did not believe because I could not see
Though you came to me in the night
When the dawn seemed forever lost
You showed me your love in the light of the stars

Cast your eyes on the ocean
Cast your soul to the sea
When the dark night seems endless
Please remember me

Then the mountain rose before me
By the deep well of desire
From the fountain of forgiveness
Beyond the ice and the fire

Cast your eyes on the ocean
Cast your soul to the sea
When the dark night seems endless
Please remember me

Though we share this humble path, alone
How fragile is the heart
Oh give these clay feet wings to fly
To touch the face of the stars

Breathe life into this feeble heart
Lift this mortal veil of fear
Take these crumbled hopes, etched with tears
We’ll rise above these earthly cares

Cast your eyes on the ocean
Cast your soul to the sea
When the dark night seems endless
Please remember me…

When in the springtime of the year
When the trees are crowned with leaves
When the ash and oak, and the birch and yew
Are dressed in ribbons fair

When owls call the breathless moon
In the blue veil of the night
The shadows of the trees appear
Amidst the lantern light

Chorus:
We’ve been rambling all the night
And some time of this day
Now returning back again
We bring a garland gay

Who will go down to those shady groves
And summon the shadows there
And tie a ribbon on those sheltering arms
In the springtime of the year

The songs of birds seem to fill the wood
That when the fiddler plays
All their voices can be heard
Long past their woodland days

Chorus

And so they joined their hands and danced
Round in circles and in rows
And so the journey of the night descends
When all the shades are gone

“A garland gay we bring you here
And at your door we stand
It is a sprout well budded out
The work of our Lord’s hand”

Chorus (2x)

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