‘Annie Laurie’

House Music at Your House

Just like today, we can often trace when songs were released and became popular in Sydney in the 19th century. The tune to this ‘old’ ballad ‘Annie Laurie’ may not have been quite as old as the Rouse family thought.

Some of the songs discovered at Rouse Hill Estate have completely vanished from our cultural memory while others, like ‘Annie Laurie’, have powered into the digital age with numerous performances ranging from a folky style to arrangements for voice, violin and guitar and even a version by the former Soviet Red Army Choir! Many songs that we think of now as early traditional folk songs were often written in the 19th century and made popular as parlour songs.

This Scottish love song originated as a poem in the early 18th century and is said have been written by William Douglas (1682?–1748). The melody was penned in the mid-1830s by Alicia Scott (1810–1900) who, while passionate about preserving Scottish language and traditions, created a tune that became popular in many middle-class drawing rooms across the English-speaking world. The song of ‘Annie Laurie’ is first mentioned in the Australian press in the late 1840s and this copy, owned by the Rouse family, was published in Sydney in around 1855. 

Watch the performance

Listen to Dan Walker introduce and perform ‘Annie Laurie’ and then have a go yourself! Dan has shared a sound file of his guitar accompaniment and prepared some guitar chords to help you sing or play along. We have also added many other versions to inspire you further.

You can meet the musiciansfind links to the music and lyrics below and perform and share your own interpretation.

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Meet the performers

Dan Walker

Composer, conductor and performer Dan Walker is one of Australia’s most in-demand choral specialists. He has had works commissioned by the Sydney Symphony, Australian Chamber Orchestra, Gondwana Choirs and Halcyon.

More about Dan


‘Annie Laurie’

Maxwelton's braes are bonnie,
Where early fa's the dew,
Twas there that Annie Laurie
Gi'ed me her promise true.
Gi'ed me her promise true -
Which ne'er forgot will be,
And for bonnie Annie Laurie
I'd lay me down and dee.

Her brow is like the snaw-drift,
Her neck is like the swan,
Her face it is the fairest,
That 'er the sun shone on.
That 'er the sun shone on -
And dark blue is her e'e,
And for bonnie Annie Laurie
I'd lay me down and dee.

Like dew on gowans lying,
Is the fa' o' her fairy feet,
And like winds, in simmer sighing,
Her voice is low and sweet.
Her voice is low and sweet -
And she's a' the world to me;
And for bonnie Annie Laurie
I'd lay me down and dee.

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