“The Banks of the Dee (I)”


"'Twas summer, and softly the breezes were blowing, And sweetly the nightingales sang in the trees." The girl remembers her Jamie, now gone "to quell the proud rebels." She earnestly hopes for his speedy return to her and the banks of the Dee


It's not absolutely clear that this song is traditional, but the tune assuredly is. The texts of "Langolee" (properly "new Langolee"; see Bruce Olson's notes in the Digital Tradition), however, are absolutely hopeless and untraditional. As a result, I decided to list "The Banks of the Dee" as the main entry.

It appears that "Banks of the Dee" was the main mechanism by which the tune became known. Huntington's song "The Banks of Champlain," for instance, although no tune is given, has "Langolee" written all over it -- and no doubt the title of Tait's piece inspired the American song.

It's interesting to note that, although there are several American songs about the American Revolution, this seems to be the only one from the British standpoint. Still more interesting, it shows little interest in the political aspect of that conflict; the girl just wants her Jamie to return. - RBW

Same tune

  • Langolee (DT, LANGLEE)
  • The Banks of Champlain (Huntington-Whalemen, pp. 161-162, probably originally sung to this tune)
  • Oliver Arnold's parody of Banks of the Dee (DT, BNKSDEE2, said by Spaeth to date from 1775)


  1. cf. Gardner/Chickering, p. 477, "The Banks of the Dee" (source notes only)
  3. Roud #3847
  4. BI, DTbnksde


Author: Words: John Tate / Music: "Langolee" (traditional)
Earliest date: 1803 (The Scots Musical Museum)
Keywords: love separation soldier
Found in: Britain