the song
title : Winter it is past
written by : traditional, arranged by Robert Burns
arranged by : Eddi Reader
song copyright : none
Eddi said
“I sang this song as the ‘Curragh of Kildare’ on my last recording, and in my search for material I was really excited to realise that the words to Robert’s ‘Winter it is past’ come from the same song. Robert had known the old Irish song so he adapted it and added a couple of verses. He did that to a lot of songs. Singing the first line is like breathing a sigh of relief to me.”
booklet note in her Burns albums (both original and deluxe editions)

the performance
musicians
Eddi Reader vocal, acoustic guitar
with :
Ian Carr acoustic guitar?, piano
Phil Cunningham accordion
Boo Hewerdine acoustic guitar
John McCusker whistle?
Colin Reid acoustic guitar
Ewen Vernal double bass
Royal Scottish National Orchestra
conducted by Kevin McCrae :
strings, arranged by Kevin McCrae
1st violins: Edwin Paling, William Chandler, Tamas Fejes, Andrew Martin, Robert Yeomans, Barbara Paterson, Jane Reid, Gail Digney; 2nd violins: Rosalin Lazaroff, Jacqueline Speirs, Marion Wilson, Wanda Wojtasinska, Elizabeth Lloyd, Paul Medd; violas: John Harrington, Ian Budd, David Amon, Claire Dunn; cellos: Pauline Dowse, Jeremy Fletcher, Betsy Taylor, William Paterson; double basses: David Inglis, Robert Mitchell
music
key : E major
time-signature : 6/8
tempo : MM 56
form : V V V v V V v
lyrics

Winter it is past

the winter it is past
and the summer’s come at last
and the small birds are singing in the trees
now everything is glad
oh but I am very sad
for my true love is parted from me

the rose upon the briar
by the water running clear
may have charms for the linnet and the bee
their little loves are blest
ah their little hearts at rest
but my true love is parted from me

and all you who are in love
and cannot it remove
I pity all the pain that you endure
for experience lets me know
that your hearts are full of woe
it’s a woe that no mortal can cure

– accordion and whistle

oh-ah, my love is like the sun
in the firmament does run
forever is constant and true
but his is like the moon
it wanders up and doon
and is every month changing anew

the winter’s past
and the summer’s come at last
and the small birds are singing in the trees
their little loves are blest
oh their little hearts at rest
but my true love is far away from me

– accordion and whistle
my true love is far away from me
ah-ah, oh-ee-oh-ah

explanations

Burns adapted this lyric from a ballad, The love-sick maid, whose subject was girl in love with a highwayman named Johnson, hanged in 1750 for robbery in Kildare, Ireland. The following Burns text was originally published as the last song in the 1788 volume of The Scots musical museum (editor James Johnson).

The winter it is past

The winter it is past, and the summer’s come at last,
  And the small birds sing on ev’ry tree;
The hearts of these are glad, but mine is very sad,
  For my Lover has parted from me.

The rose upon the briar, by the waters running clear,
  May have charms for the linnet or the bee;
Their little loves are blest and their little hearts at rest,
  But my Lover is parted from me.

My love is like the sun, in the firmament does run,
  For ever constant and true;
But his is like the moon that wanders up and down,
  And every month it is new.

All you that are in love and cannot it remove,
  I pity the pains you endure:
For experience makes me know that your hearts are full of woe,
  A woe that no mortal can cure.

source : No. 218 in Poems and songs of Robert Burns / edited by James Kinsley. – Oxford : Clarendon Press, 1968

The original ballad dates from before 1765 and the broadside text follows (capitalisation modernised) :

The love-sick maid

“The winter it is past, and the summer come at last;
    And the small birds sing on every tree;
The hearts of those are glad, whilst mine is very sad,
    For my true love is absent from me.

“I’ll put on my cap of black, and fringes about my neck,
    And rings on my fingers I’ll wear;
Al this I’ll undertake, for [my] true lover’s sake,
    For he rides at the Curragh of Kildare.

“A livery I’ll wear, and I’ll comb down my hair,
    And I’ll dress in the velvet so green;
Straitways I will repair to the Curragh of Kildare,
    And ’tis there I will get tydings of him.”

With patience she did wait, ’til they ran for the plate,
    In thinking young Johnston to see;
“But fortune prov’d unkind to that sweetheart of mine,
    For he’s gone to Lurgan from me!

“I should not think it strange the wide world for to range,
    If I could obtain my heart’s delight
But here in Cupid’s chain I’m oblig’d to remain,
    Whilst in tears I do spend the whole night.

“My love is like the sun, that in the firmament doth run,
    Which is always constant and true:
But your’s is like the moon, that doth wander up and down,
    And in every month it is new.

All you that are in love, and cannot it remove,
    For [all of] you pittied are by me;
Experience makes me know that your heart is full of woe,
    Since my true love is absent from me.

Farewel, my joy and heart, since you and I must part,
    You are the fairest that e’er I did see:
And I never do design for to alter my mind,
    Altho’ you’re below my degree.

source : The Roxburghe ballads / edited, with special introduction and notes, by J. Woodfall Ebsworth. – Vol. 6. – Hertford : Ballad Society, 1889 — page 240, reprinting Roxburghe collection, III, 680; London rake’s garland, 1765 (capitalization modernised)


the recording
personnel
produced by : Boo Hewerdine
recorded by : Robert Rankin at CaVa Studios, Glasgow – 2003-01
mixed by : Jon Kelly
mastered by : Tim Young at Metropolis Studios, London
technical
signal path : DDD
song timing : 4:11
released on
album : Eddi Reader sings the songs of Robert Burns track 10   timing : 4:15
album : The songs of Robert Burns (deluxe edition) track 10   timing : 4:15

commentary
revamp:
Eddi had previously recorded a version of this song under its ‘ballad’ title ‘The Curragh of Kildare’, including a verse about the said Curragh which Burns dropped