Banks Of Allan Water

by M.G. Lewis (1775-1818)

On the banks of Allan Water
When the sweet spring time did fall,
Was the miller’s lovely daughter
Fairest of them all
For his bride a soldier sought her
And a winning tongue had he
On the banks of Allan Water
None so gay as she

On the banks of Allan Water
When brown autumn spread his store
There I saw the miller’s daughter
But she smiled no more
For the summer, grief had brought her
And the soldier false was he
On the banks of Allan Water
None so sad as she

On the banks of Allan Water
When the winter snow fell fast
Still was seen the miller’s daughter
Chilling blew the blast
But the miller’s lovely daughter
Both from cold and care was free
On the banks of Allan Water
There a corpse lay she

Brought to Sangschule by Gordeanna McCulloch who learned it from an old book that her granny had. Perhaps the book was The Lyric Gems of Scotland, where it appears in the second series, p 275, as “On the banks of Allan Water”.

The note there says: “M.G. Lewis, commonly called ‘Monk Lewis’ was a popular writer about the beginning of the century. (19th C) He was author of ‘The Monk’, ‘Castle Spectre’, ‘Alonzo the Brave’, and other pieces. Allan Water, near Dunblane, has been the theme of many fine songs, but none has shared a greater popularity than this. We cannot give the name of the gifted composer of the music.”

Matthew Gregory Lewis (1775 – 1818) was known as “Monk” Lewis after he wrote his popular terror romance The Monk in 1795.

The tune in Lyric Gems is credited to “a Lady”. Gordeanna told us that she had got the tune she taught us from Tom Spiers. A Sangschule member has found in The Piper's Companion pub. 1985 a very similar tune called Banks of Allen Water with no composer credited for the tune, which Tom says he altered slightly to fit the song.