Table of Contents

William Hay
  1. Our Father-Land
  2. The Auld Familiar Faces
  3. Biographies of The Lintie Of Moray
The Lintie O' Moray


These poems have been very slightly modified from their original wording, which can be found in The Lintie O' Moray.
okl.


Our Father-Land

Tune A Highland Lad my Love was Born.

There ne'er was a man of Masonic clay,
Who has not paused, amid life's long way,
To breathe a sigh from some distant strand,
To the days of his youth, and his Father-Land.
Wherever we dwell, wherever we go,
Or glowing with mirth, or glooming with woe,
'Mid the smiles of luck, or the wrinkles of care,
Our hearts, untravelled, will linger there.

Chorus
Our Father-Land, our Father-Land,
Be blessings on our Father-Land;
Wherever we roam, or however we fare,
Our hearts, untravelled, will linger there.

Though man be dust, and to dust returns,
Still something in his bosom burns,
That claims a higher and a holier birth,
Than the senseless clod of sluggish earth:
There's heart to heart, and mind to mind,
Which the cords of love and of friendship bind;
And we'll moisten with wine, and tighten the band
That binds us in love to our Father-Land.

There are thoughts which far in the bosom dwell,
Which a sound or a word can arouse like a spell;
And the rivers and dells, and each bonnie hill,
With a thousand thoughts our memories fill;
And the mind flies back, through it's hopes and it's fears
To the laughing days of our boyhood's years
Like a scene charmed up by a fairy wand,
We gaze with delight on our Father-Land.

And we think of the friends whom late we saw,
Though gone from us and far awa',
Who in foreign regions pant and burn,
For the hour that bids them to return:
Whenever they come, wherever we be,
Their hearts, unchanged, we hope to see;
And we'll give them the grasp of friendship's hand,
And welcome them back to their Father-Land.

And the poor man feels that for him we felt,
When Ruin lately round him dwelt
When the Floods prevailed, and swept away
His little all his only stay;
When Famine loomed, and Hope had fled,
And the Orphan cried aloud for bread,
Then Pity stretched her helping hand
To succour the poor of our Father-Land.

Yes! not a Masonic heart but mourned,
While his melting eye was homeward turned;
From either Indies, to Malta's isle,
Soft Pity made our sufferers smile
Pervaded each Masonic breast,
And blessing them, herself was blest;
And doubly blest be the Stranger hand,
That succoured the poor of our Father-Land.

'Mid the gayest scenes will oft intrude
The thoughts of the gloomiest solitude;
As the fairest sky is oft overcast
By the gloomy veil of the coming blast;
So, amid our mirth, we think how few
Are left of those whom once we knew.
Who have bid adieu to this mortal strand,
To us and to all in their Father-Land.

Such, such are they, and such shall we
In a few short seasons quickly be;
Like the flower that blushes today so fair,
And tomorrow is psha! away with all care.
Fill! fill up! my lads and your youth renew
By that mirth which never repentance drew;
Fill! fill to the brim join heart and hand,
As we drink to the weal of our Father-Land.

Chorus
Our Father-Land, our Father-Land,
Be blessings on our Father-Land;
Fill! fill to the brim join heart and hand,
As we drink to the weal of our Father-Land.

1830

The Auld Familiar Faces

Tune Auld Robin Gray.

Oh! once and we were young, but now we're getting auld,
And the hairs upon our temples, they are wearing thin and bald.
And this weary world of care, where joy is mixed with woe,
Is reeling, like a drunken man, beneath us, to and fro;
Since the days have flown away, which so happy we have seen.
And other days we ne'er expect more happy than have been;
And every year that brings us here, reminds us of this law
That the auld familiar faces, now, with our youth are going awa'.

The birchs are waving bonnily on Findhorn's rocky side,
As bonnie now as when in youth we sported with its tide;
And starry daisies gem the banks of Lossie's peaceful stream,
But none so bright as when the light of life was but a dream.
For the eye is getting dimmer now, and the fancy waxing cold,
And the hues of beauty fading, aye, for we are getting auld;
And every year that brings us here, reminds us of this law
That the auld familiar faces, now, with our youth are going awa'.

Oh! the change is in ourselves, since the beauty of the flower
Is ever floating 'round it, for beauty is its dower;
But where's the heart to feel it, when the bloom of life has fled
'Tis nothing but the naked stalk, with flower and fragrance dead;
And, Oh! how soon all loveliness is hastening to decay,
Like shadows of the summer clouds that flit so fast away!
Thus, every year that brings us here, reminds us of this law
That the auld familiar faces now, with our youth, are going awa'.

But see how boyhood's rosy looks, and laughter-loving een,
Are beaming through the mists of years the years that we have seen
The day-spring of our fitful life, arrayed in colours bright,
When hope was rock of adamant, and fear the feather's weight;
When fancy with her richest hues empurpled all the skies,
And we were far too wise to learn, too happy to be wise;
Thus, every year that brings us here, reminds us of this law
That the auld familiar faces, now, with our youth are going awa'.

Where be our classmates, classmates mine, come tell it now to me?
Look on sad Memory's tearful page, and say how few they be;
The forms are gone of loveliness the hopes that beamed so fair.
Are sleeping in the sunless land, with those that slumber there.
The father's hope, the mother's joy, the lover's sole delight,
And all their dreams of earthly bliss are vanished out of sight:
Thus, every year that brings us here, reminds us of this law
That the auld familiar faces, now, with our youth are going awa'.

Oh! beautiful exceedingly are Moray's smiling plains;
Her lasses fair, beyond compare, and manly are her swains;
Her sunny knolls, her wimpling burns, her streams of crystal clear,
That slide along, in liquid song, with music to the ear.
Her gentle slopes, her rolling hills, we see your robes of green,
And all the charms you gaze upon, are now before our een:
Still, every year that brings us here, reminds us of this law
That the auld familiar faces, now, with our youth are going awa'.

William "Willie" Hay (1794-1854)

Unfortunately, none of Brother Hay's Masonic poetry has come to light, though there may be a few pieces sequesterd away in old newspaper archives from Edinburgh or Elgin, the towns where he spent most of his life, or in the records of Canongate-Kilwinning Lodge #2, where he was its third Poet Laureate from 1836 to 1841, succeeding Robbie Burns and James Hogg, the Ettrick Shepherd. What we do have is a book of songs, mostly by Willie, written for another organization for which he also served as Poet Laureate. The Edinburgh Morayshire Society was a benevolent association dedicated to similar principles, but more informal than a Masonic Lodge. They met only annually on Valentines Day, and after their charitable business was concluded, enjoyed a festive board. It was at these events that their Laureates displayed their talents, usually with very light and topical songs, often poking fun at their countrymen (in a manner that would be considered cruel today). No doubt, Brother Hay performed a similar service for festive boards of his Masonic Lodge as well. Two of Brother Hay's more serious and less topical poems are above, with the Scots language somewhat modernized, and some of the more localized terms slightly modified. His entire collection, The Lintie O' Moray, (a lintie is a type of songbird) is available in another file on this site. To appreciate some of the poems, it helps to know a bit of the geography. Moray or Morayshire is a county about 50 miles north of Edinburgh on the east coast of Scotland. It has two main towns (Forres and Elgin, the capital) and three rivers (the Findhorn, the Lossie, and the Spey). Residents of Moray are known jocularly as "loons," possibly from the tendency the neighborhood had even before the Asylum was built there of attracting odd characters and shell-shocked veterans.

A friend of his, Dr. William Rhind, wrote a biography of Poet Hay, which has not become available to us. However, two biographical articles have, one very disparaging, and one rather favorable; and an additional positively glowing one will be found in The Lintie O' Moray. To keep a balanced perspective, we present both of the former below. The chronological portions are almost (but not quite) identical, and so were probably both lifted from Dr. Rhind's earlier work.

okl.


from A History of Moray and Nairn by Charles Joseph Galliari Rampini, 1897. pp.383-388

Moray has as yet given birth to no poet, though, like other districts of rural Scotland, it has had its own share of rhymesters and poetasters. Prominent among them is William, better known as Willie Hay, to whom local partiality has accorded a higher rank than his writings appear to deserve. He was of humble extraction. Born in Elgin in 1794, he is said to have been the son of Harry Hay, a sheriff officer, and of Meggie Falconer, a well-known vendor of apples and gooseberries, who kept a stall in the High Street. The records of his early life are scanty, but he seems to have been employed by Dr. Robert Paterson of the H.E.I.C.S. as stable-boy, and by him introduced to Mr. John Anderson, the rector of the Academy, who, recognising his abilities, undertook the charge of his education. In 1811, on the recommendation of Mr. Anderson, he was engaged by the mother of the Rev. Dr. Gordon of Birnie to assist him and his brothers with their lessons. The following year he obtained the situation of resident tutor in the family of Mr. Cumming of Logie. Logie is a picturesquely situated place near Forres, on the banks of the Findhorn. The scenery around is in the highest degree beautiful, and there is perhaps a greater number of country gentlemen's seats in its immediate vicinity than in any other part of the county. Here for the first time the clever, gawky lad was introduced to refined and cultured society. Amongst other constant visitors to Logie was Mr. (afterwards Sir) Thomas Dick Lauder, who was a near neighbour of Mr. Cumming's, and his "literary tastes and intellectual powers," we are told, "proved of lasting benefit" to the young student. This was probably the happiest period of Hay's life. But of course it could not last.

His ambition was to enter the Church, and accordingly in 1819 he gave up his situation and proceeded to Edinburgh to complete his education. His first object was naturally to take his degree. It was a process that took time. In order to support himself he took to private teaching. He soon managed to get employment. For the next few years his life was a very laborious one. But he was of an independent spirit, and succeeded in holding his own with Fortune. In due time he entered upon his divinity course, but soon discovered that his theological studies were anything but congenial to him. After a rather prolonged period of indecision, he ultimately relinquished his ambition of "wagging his head in a poopit," and resigned himself to an existence which he designed to divide between literature and tuition.

He had attended Professor Wilson's class of Moral Philosophy, and had taken a high place in it. And it was accordingly to him that he turned for assistance in carrying out his views. Christopher North, of Blackwood's Magazine fame, became his patron. Hay in his turn became Wilson's literary henchman. He contributed to Maga on his own account a translation of George Buchanan's Latin poem of the "Franciscans," and between 1835 and 1837 about a dozen translations from the Greek; but he did a great deal of work for Wilson otherwise, of which no record remains. Through Wilson he procured an introduction to Mr. William Blackwood, and some years afterwards went abroad as secretary to his son Alexander, and as tutor to the late Mr. John Blackwood, the second youngest son of the founder of the firm.

In 1838 he paid his last visit to Morayshire, and died on the 22d July 1854, after a long illness, aggravated by the affliction of total blindness.

It is almost entirely to his connection with the Edinburgh Morayshire Society that Hay owes his reputation. This association, which was founded on 14th February 1824 for the purpose "of affording relief to occasional objects of misfortune or distress from the county, persons visited with any sudden calamity, or in such pressing exigencies as to be fit objects of the Society's bounty," and which in 1875 was amalgamated under its present appellation of the Edinburgh Morayshire Club with the Edinburgh Morayshire Mechanics' Society, instituted in 1837 or 1839, was in the habit, like other societies of its kind, of following up its annual business meetings with a dinner, at which Speyside whisky was drunk, a haggis from the Gordon Arms at Elgin was consumed, a ram's-horn mull from Manbeen was passed round the table, and the members present spent a jolly evening in talking over their early recollections of "Morayland," in drinking patriotic toasts, and singing songs in its honour. Of this Society Hay became a member in 1828. Being a devoted "Morayshireener" to use his own phrase and at the same time of a very convivial nature, he soon became a favourite at these gatherings. And having produced one or two songs which took the fancy of the members, he was ultimately elected its Laureate.

From that time he felt it incumbent upon him to compose a song for every recurring anniversary meeting. "It was amusing," says his friend Dr William Rhind in his Recollections of William Hay, reprinted from the Elgin and Morayshire Courier, and published in 1855, "to watch the enthusiasm with which he performed the duties of his high and mighty function of bard. First of all he had to seek about for a fit subject of a song perhaps months before the meeting; then he had to pitch upon an air to which to adjust the versification. Often did he croon this air over and over. ... Then the composition of the verses went on by fits and starts. A stanza or two, in the enthusiasm of the moment, might be communicated to an acquaintance then a sough would go abroad of the nature of the coming song; but he was very chary of showing the completed piece to any but his most intimate friends till the appointed evening of meeting. Then, when the proper time arrived, the Laureate was called upon, and he rose with great solemnity, taking the little manuscript book of his song from his pocket, but prefacing the performance with an extempore prolegomenon and a pinch of snuff. ...

"On several occasions the song of the evening produced so much enthusiasm that it was taken up and sung repeatedly in the course of the night and morning's revel, while the productions [of previous years] were ever afterwards stock songs of the Society, and were sung, as a matter of course, at all the meetings." These songs, which are entirely devoid of anything but local interest, were afterwards collected, along with those of other bards, in a volume entitled The Lintie o' Moray, of which the first edition, edited by Mr. George Cumming, W.S., the secretary of the Society, was published in Forres in 1851, and the second in Elgin in 1887.

Hay always regarded his contributions to The Lintie as his best productions, probably on account of the rapturous reception they invariably received. But, like other authors, he was the worst possible judge of his own works. His translations from the Greek for Maga, and above all a series of graphic sketches of scenes and characters of rural life, which originally appeared in the Ephemera, but were afterwards published in a volume under the title of Tales and Sketches by Jacob Ruddiman, A.M., of Marischal College, Aberdeen, are infinitely superior from a literary point of view. The Tales in particular, though old-fashioned and conventional in style, are full of admirable touches, and show keen powers of observation. It is to be regretted, for the sake of poor Willie Hay's reputation, that they have never been reprinted.

Hay's life, on the whole, was a wasted one. Utterly destitute of self-reliance, and tinged with a melancholy which he owed perhaps to his delicate health, he never gave his talents fair play. But, happier than many more distinguished and more talented than himself, he left behind him a large circle of devoted friends, and his memory is still kindly remembered in his native city, and beyond it.


from One Hundred Modern Scottish Poets: With Biographical and Critical Notices by David Herschell Edwards, 1893. pp.129-132.

From an interesting review in the Aberdeen Free Press of a new [1887] edition of "The Lintie o' Moray," we select the following: More than thirty years ago "The Lintie o' Moray" won for itself a warm corner in the hearts of all true Morayshire men, and its name and fame, far from waning, have been positively growing with the lapse of years. Indeed, so much had the demand for the little volume of 1851 grown that a reprint of it was almost certain to occur, and we are glad to meet it now in its new dress, and evincing such careful editorial supervision as Sheriff Rampini has evidently bestowed upon it. Besides numerous additional notes, illustrative of persons and things incidentally mentioned in the songs, the original appendix has been wisely broken up, and with carefully distinguishing marks has been given as foot-notes to the various songs its matter referred to. This is an undoubted improvement, and now, with a full body of explanatory prose notes, these songs afford many interesting glimpses into bye-gone social life and character, which, apart from its mere local value, will make the book be highly relished by a wide circle of readers.

The contents of the volume consist of the songs read, sung, or said at the annual meetings of the Edinburgh Morayshire Society from 1829 to 1841 twenty-four pieces by five different writers. Fully one half of these came from the pen of one of Elgin's most gifted sons William Hay.

Born in Elgin in 1791, he is said to have been the son of Harry Hay, a sheriff-officer, and of Meggie Falconer, a well-known vendor of apples and gooseberries, who kept a stall on the High Street. The records of his early life are scanty, but he seems to have been employed by Dr. Robert Paterson, of the H.E.I.C.S, as stable-boy, and by him introduced to Mr. John Anderson, rector of the Academy, who, recognising his abilities, undertook the charge of his education. In 1811, on the recommendation of Mr. Anderson, he was employed by the mother of the Rev. Dr. Gordon, of Birnie, to assist him and his brother with their lessons, and in the following year he obtained the situation of tutor in the family of Mrs. Cumming of Logie. In 1819 he proceeded to Edinburgh to complete his studies for the Church, supporting himself meanwhile by private teaching. But he soon tired of his theological studies, and the remainder of his life was devoted to literature and teaching. He was a large contributor to Blackwood's Magazine, and enjoyed the friendship of its editor, Christopher North, and of the distinguished literary coterie which it was Wilson's pride to gather round him. In 1836 he spent a winter on the Continent; in 1838 he paid his last visit to Morayshire, and died 22nd July, 1854, after a long illness, aggravated by the painful affliction of total blindness.