The Slaves Lament

The Slave’s Lament was written by Robert Burns in the late 1700s at the height of  the slave trade. He was against the trade and here he imagines himself in the position of being a captured slave and taken to America.  It has one of the most beautiful tunes I’ve ever sung, though I’m not certain of its roots: it’s very  different to the fiddle tunes Burns commonly used for his songs.   I’ve written a break to use between verses and, as it’s written to the same chord structure as the  verses, it can also be used as an alternative backing for the verses. This is a 3 part arrangement for mixed voices. I also have a women only version – email me.

Example of lyrics

It was in sweet Senegal that my foes did me enthrall
For the lands of Virginia-ginia O
Torn from that lovely shore and must never see it more
And alas! I am weary, weary O

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Song information

  • Mood:

    haunting, modal

  • Technical:

    3 part arrangement for mixed voices. Women only version also available – email me.

  • In this download:

    full score (pdf)

  • Included in book or collection:Traditional Songs in Scots »