Smile in Your Sleep

(lyrics: Jim McLean, Duart Music, London, melody: trad)



Hush, hush, time to be sleeping

Hush, hush, dreams come a-creeping

Dreams o' peace and o' freedom

So smile in your sleep, bonnie baby


Verse 1:

Once our valleys were ringing

With sounds of our children singing

But now sheep bleat till the evening

And shielings lie empty and broken


Verse 2:

We stood with heads bowed in prayer

While factors laid our cottages bare,

The flames fired the clear mountain air

And many were dead in the morning.


Verse 3:

Where was our proud highland mettle

Our men once so famed in battle

Now stand cowed, huddled like cattle

And wait to be shipped o'er the ocean


Verse 4:

No use pleading or praying

Now gone, gone, all hope of staying

So hush, hush, the anchor's a-weighing

Don't cry in your sleep, bonnie baby


Jim McLean wrote in 2015:

I wrote the song in 1963 as a Highland Clearance lullaby and is only angry in its association with those tragic events but basically a lullaby. I have written other Highland Clearance songs, some more martial and bitter.

I am/was a piper so I fitted/changed the pipe tune Mist Covered Mountains around the mood of my words

The meoldy as sung by The Corries is the best as it follows my melody rather than the Chi mi na Morbheanna original. There is also a good version ... by Isla St Clair. 

Anne Lorne Gillies, in her magnificent book "Songs of Gaelic Scotland", page 291, discusses "Chi mi na Mor-bheanna says ..."the melody was also adapted by modern songwriter Jim McLean for his English-language Highland Clearance classic, Smile in your Sleep".

It was first recorded by Nigel Denver on Decca LP LK4943  called "Folk old and new" and many times since, going through all sort of lyric changes.

I'm not a singer so have relied on others to spread the song so it is quite remarkable that it has gone to far.

I was a radio and TV apprentice until 1957 when I spent 6 months in Glasgow Barlinnie gaol as a conscientious objector to National Service. 

I got involved in the Scottish folk scene around 1959 and wrote some songs printed in the Scottish Rebel Ceilidh Song Books.

I reckon myself and Marion Blythman, Morris's wife, are the only two "Glasgow Eskimoes" still alive!

I travelled a lot and once served in the Swedish Merchant Navy for a spell before I got married in London in 1966 and formed my own record company, Nevis Records, in 1972. Previous to that I had written and produced LPs for different companies including a collection of Scottish Republican Songs, sleeve notes by Hugh MacDiarmid whom I'd also recorded and edited him reciting his own and Burns's poems. I produced a booklet "25 Scottish Rebel Songs" in 1968, all my own songs, and all have been recorded sometime or another. 

I was the Dubliners first road manager in 1966/7 and in 1962 I gave Bob Dylan his first chance to sing in a London folk club. Afterwards he asked me to discuss Scottish folk song and concluded by asking if I was Hamish Henderson!

I obtained a B.Eng in electronic engineering when I was 50 and an MSc in Scottish Ethnology from the University of Edinburgh when I was 70, in 2008 and also taught Information technology for about 10 years in a London School previous to retiring age 60.

My time at the moment is spent reading and looking after our five grandchildren. My wife and I do the school run sometimes so not much time for anything else, but we enjoy the fact they all live so close.


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