Collector Helen Creighton described the atmosphere in the home of singer William Gilkie when she visited in 1950: “…friends walk into his house without need of knocking, slipping noiselessly to their places so the singers would not be disturbed.” Gilkie sang for Creighton’s recording machine with a child on his knee and chewing tobacco in his mouth.
In other versions of this song, the man tapping at his true love’s window is revealed to be the ghost of her lost lover.
Here’s a health unto all true lovers,
And unto mine where’er she be,
This very night, love, I mean to be with you,
It’s many’s a long mile she is from me.
It’s let this night be as dark as dungeons,
And there no gay light all to appear,
My steps shall guide thee without a stumble,
All in the arms of you, my dear.
It’s when he came to his true love’s window,
He gently knelt down all on a stone,
And through the keyhole he whispered softly,
Saying, “My jewel, are you alone?”
She rose her head from soft white pillow,
And almost naked was her lilywhite breast,
“Who’s there, who’s there tapping at my window,
Disturbing me from a long night’s rest?”
“It’s your own true love, pray don’t discover,
But open the door, love, and let me in,
For I am wet after my long night’s journey,
Besides I am wet love unto the skin.”
It’s when this long night was passed and over,
And then the cocks they began to crow,
We kissed, shook hands, I in sorrow parted,
I took my leave and from her did go.
Source: William Gilkie and his mother
Mrs. Sandy Gilkie in Sambro, Nova Scotia
from Spinning Yarns,
released March 17, 2015
Norah Rendell on vocals and flute, Brian Miller on guitar and Randy Gosa on mandola.
Originally from Vancouver, British Columbia, Norah Rendell is a consummate musician that specializes in the traditional folk
songs and dance music of Ireland and Canada. Norah was named "Best Vocalist of the Year" by the Live Ireland Awards in 2011 and 2012 and was nominated for "Best Traditional Singer of the Year" by the Canadian Folk Music Awards in 2009....more