Coffee Shop: A Song to Take You ‘Over the Hills’

Over the Hills and Far Away” is a familiar song, dating back to at least the 17th century. The tune and the title have remained constant, but they’ve been given several sets of lyrics over time.


Wm Merritt Chase over-the-hills-and-far-away



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Coffee cup



scotland-northern-highlands


Thomas D’Urfey (1653 – 1723) was a playwright, songwriter and noted wit in England. His most famous lyrics are for “Over the Hills and Far Away.”


D'Urfrey Wit & Mirth




The D’Urfey lyrics:

Jocky met with Jenny fair
by the dawning of the day;
But Jockey now is fu’ of care
Since Jenny staw his heart away.

CHORUS
O’er hills and dales and far away
O’er hills and dales and far away
O’er hills and dales and far away
The wind has blawn my plaid away.

Altho’ she promis’d to be true
She proven has, alake! unkind
Which gars poor Jockey aften rue
That e’er he loo’d a fickle mind.

CHORUS

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.

CHORUS

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,”

CHORUS



The nursery rhyme “Tom, Tom, the Piper’s Son” is about a piper who knows only one tune, O’er the Hills and Far Away.

Tommy was a Piper’s Son,
And fell in love when he was young;
But all the Tunes that he could play,
Was, o’er the Hills, and far away.


The Recruiting Officer - Philipe Mercier

Lyrics from George Farquhar’s 1706 play The Recruiting Officer: 

Our ‘prentice Tom may now refuse
To wipe his scoundrel Master’s Shoes,
For now he’s free to sing and play
Over the Hills and far away.
Over the Hills and O’er the Main,
To Flanders, Portugal and Spain,
The queen commands and we’ll obey
Over the Hills and far away.
We all shall lead more happy lives
By getting rid of brats and wives
That scold and bawl both night and day –
Over the Hills and far away.
Over the Hills and O’er the Main,
To Flanders, Portugal and Spain,
The queen commands and we’ll obey
Over the Hills and far away.
Courage, boys, ’tis one to ten,
But we return all gentlemen
All gentlemen as well as they,
Over the hills and far away.
Over the Hills and O’er the Main,
To Flanders, Portugal and Spain,
The queen commands and we’ll obey
Over the Hills and far away.


The Beggar's Opera 1731 - Wm Hogarth

In John Gay’s The Beggar’s Opera, the song is a duet between the antihero Macheath and his lover Polly. It is a romantic dream of escape, with no military references.



MACHEATH:

Were I laid on Greenland’s Coast,
And in my Arms embrac’d my Lass;
Warm amidst eternal Frost,
Too soon the Half Year’s Night would pass.

POLLY:

Were I sold on Indian Soil,
Soon as the burning Day was clos’d,
I could mock the sultry Toil
When on my Charmer’s Breast repos’d.

MACHEATH:

And I would love you all the Day,

POLLY:

Every Night would kiss and play,

MACHEATH:

If with me you’d fondly stray

POLLY:

Over the Hills and far away



BernardCornwell_SharpesRifles

The tune was given another set of lyrics, based on Farquhar’s version, for the popular 1990s British television series Sharpe, from the novels by Bernard Cornwell. These lyrics were penned by John Tams, who played Dan Hagman in the series.



Here’s forty shillings on the drum
To those who volunteer to come,
To ‘list and fight the foe today
Over the Hills and far away.

CHORUS:
O’er the hills and o’er the main
Through Flanders, Portugal and Spain.
King George commands and we obey
Over the hills and far away.

Through smoke and fire and shot and shell,
And to the very walls of hell,
But we shall stand and we shall stay
Over the hills and far away

Though I may travel far from Spain
A part of me shall still remain,
And you are with me night and day
and Over the hills and far away.

Then fall in lads behind the drum
With colours blazing like the sun.
Along the road to come what may
Over the hills and far way.

When Evil stalks upon the land
I’ll neither hold nor stay me hand
But fight to win a better day,
Over the hills and far away.

If I should fall to rise no more,
As many comrades did before,
Ask the pipes and drums to play
Over the hills and far away.

Let kings and tyrants come and go,
I’ll stand adjudged by what I know.
A soldiers life I’ll ne’er gainsay.
Over the hills and far away.

Though kings and tyrants come and go
A soldier’s life is all I know
I’ll live to fight another day
Over the hills and far away.

A tongue-in-cheek verse appeared in Sharpe’s Waterloo:  

Old Wellington, he scratched his bum.
He says, “Boney lad, thee’s had thee fun.
My riflemen will win the day”
Over the hills and far away.




The title has been “borrowed’ and given new Rock’n’Roll tunes and lyrics by Led Zeppelin and Nightwish. There’s something magical about the words “Over the Hills and Far Away.”  They call us to begone, to see what’s beyond our comfortable little circle. That’s one of the grandest themes in songs and literature.


But while you wander far from home
And to see the wide world roam
Remember those who’ll never stray
Over the Hills and Far Away.



Sources

The Song

Thomas D’Ufrey

George Farquhar

John Gay

Bernard Cornwell

John Tams

Visuals

  • Over the Hills and Far Away, painting by William Merritt Chase
  • Northern Scottish Highlands
  • Thomas D’Urfrey – Wit and Mirth, or Pills to Purge Melancholy
  • The Recruiting Officer, painting by Phillipe Mercier
  • The Beggar’s Opera, 1731 painting by William Hogarth
  • Sharpe’s Rifles, bookcover

About wordcloud9

Nona Blyth Cloud has lived and worked in the Los Angeles area for the past 45 years, spending much of that time commuting on the 405 Freeway. After Hollywood failed to appreciate her genius for acting and directing, she began a second career managing non-profits, from which she has retired. Nona has now resumed writing whatever comes into her head, instead of reports and pleas for funding. She lives in a small house overrun by books with her wonderful husband and a bewildered Border Collie.
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