“O'er the Hills and Far Away (I)”


(Jocky) the piper "learned to play when he was young," but "the a' tunes that he could play Was o'er the hills and far away." Rejected by Jenny, he laments his fate, declares "I'll never trust a woman more," and intends to spend his life playing the pipes

Supplemental text

O'er the Hills and Far Away (I)
  Complete text(s)

          *** A ***

O'er the hills, and far away

From James Johnson, "The Scots Musical Museum," Volume I, #62, pp.
62-63. As found in the 1853 edition (punctuation is somewhat uncertain,
given the state of the facsimile). The text in "Pills to Purge
Melancholy" is almost identical (except for punctuation and spelling
differences), except in the second verse.

Jocky met with Jenny fair,
Aft by the dawning of the day;
But Jocky now is fu' of care,
Since Jenny staw his heart away.
Altho' she promis'd to be true,
She proven has, alake! unkind;
Which gars poor Jockey often rue
That e'er he lov'd a fickle mind.

     And it'd over the hills, and far away
     over the hills, and far away
     over the hills, and far away
     The wind has blawn my plaid away.

  Now Jocky was a bonny lad
As e'er was born in Scotland fair;
But now poor man! he's e'en gane wood,
Since Jenny has gart him despair;
Young Jocky was a Piper's son,
And fell in love when he was young;
But a' the springs that he could play.
Was o'er the hills, and far away.
  And it's o'er the hills, &c.

  He sung -- When first my Jenny's face
I saw, she seem'd sae fu' of grace,
With meikle joy my heart was fill'd,
That's now, alas! with sorrow kill'd.
Oh! was she but as true as fair,
'Twad put an end to my despair.
Instead of that she is unkind,
And wavers like the winter wind.
  And it's o'er the hills, &c.

  Ah! cou'd she find the dismal wae
That for her sake I undergae,
She cou'd nae chuse but grant relief,
And put an end to a' my grief.
But, oh! she is as fause as fair,
Which causes a' my sighs and care;
But she triumphs in proud disdain,
And takes a pleasure in my pain.
  And it's o'er the hills, &c.

  Hard was my hap, to fa' in love
With ane that does so faithless prove;
Hard was my fate, to court a maid,
That has my constant heart betray'd.
A thousand times to me she swore,
She wad be true for evermore.
But, to my grief, alake, I say;
She staw my heart and ran away.
  And it's o'er the hills, &c.

  Since that she will nae pity take,
I maun gae wander for her sake,
And, in ilk wood and gloomy grove,
I'll sighing, sing, Adieu to love;
Since she is fause whom I adore,
I'll never trust a woman more;
Frae a' their charms I'll flee away
And on my pipes I'll sweetly play,
  And it's o'er the hills, &c.


It has been conjectured that this is descended from one or another version of "The Elfin Knight," with which it shares a few scattered lyrics and perhaps a plaintive feeling. But it is more likely that it was inspired by, rather than descended from, the older ballad, as this appears to have been originally a broadside.

Pieces with this name are common; John Gay had one in the Beggar's Opera. This version is characterized by the lines quoted in the description, which seem to show up even in the degenerate forms such as "Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son" (which appears to be nothing more than a dance tune; compare the Baring-Gould text). - RBW

Same tune

  • The Hubble Bubble (Logan, pp. 196-198)

Cross references


  1. Arnett, p. 17, "Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son" (1 text, 1 tune)
  2. Logan, pp. 330-334, "O'er the Hills and Far Away" (1 text)
  3. Meredith/Covell/Brown, p. 248, "(O'er the Hills and Far Away)" (1 fragment)
  4. Opie-Oxford2 507, "Tom, he was a piper's son" (4 texts)
  5. Opie-Oxford2 509, "Tom, Tom, the piper's son" (1 text)
  6. Baring-Gould-MotherGoose #127, p. 105, "(Tom, he was a piper's son)" (a long text starting with this fragment but with a completely different set of verses about animals and people Tom -- or someone -- sees while rambling)
  7. DT, OVRHILL4*
  8. ST Arn017 (Full)
  9. Roud #8460
  10. BI, Arn017


Alternate titles: “Jockey's Lamentation”
Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1706 (Pills to Purge Melancholy)
Found in: Britain US Australia