Thursday

Scots Wha Hae!

I thought it might be interesting to once in a while blog about a tune that I play on the bagpipes. Pretty much all anyone thinks of when they think of bagpipe tunes are Amazing Grace and Danny Boy. But there are tons of other tunes with really great stories behind them.

When I was living in Scotland the song that I heard the most was called Scots Wha Hae! I came to think of it as their national anthem because they played it so much. Interestingly enough, Scotland doesn't have its own national anthem. The top song is Flower of Scotland but also in the running are Highland Cathedral, A Man's a Man for a 'That, Scotland the Brave, and of course Scots Wha Hae!. Sometimes this tune is called Bruce's Address at Bannockburn.

The lyrics were written by Scotland's favorite son, Robert Burns in 1793. He's America's favorite son at New Year's Eve as he also wrote the lyrics to the song Auld Lang Syne.

The lyrics are supposed to represent a speech given by Robert the Bruce to his Scottish army at the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314. And yes, that's Robert the Bruce from the movie Braveheart and the Battle of Bannockburn is the battle at the very end of the movie. They won the battle and it set them on the road to English recognition of their Independence.

Burns wrote in old Scots, so when you first look at the lyrics they're hard to decipher. Here are the lyrics as he wrote them:

Scots, wha hae wi' Wallace bled,
Scots, wham Bruce has aften led,
Welcome tae your gory bed,
Or tae Victorie!
'Now's the day, and now's the hour:
See the front o' battle lour,
See approach proud Edward's power -
Chains and Slaverie!
'Wha will be a traitor knave?
Wha will fill a coward's grave?
Wha sae base as be a slave?
Let him turn and flee!
'Wha, for Scotland's king and law,
Freedom's sword will strongly draw,
Freeman stand, or Freeman fa',
Let him on wi' me!
'By Oppression's woes and pains!
By your sons in servile chains!
We will drain our dearest veins,
But they shall be free!
'Lay the proud usurpers low!
Tyrants fall in every foe!
Liberty's in every blow! -
Let us do or dee!'

Here's a nice translation:
Scots, Who Have.
Scots, who have with Wallace bled,
Scots, who Bruce has often led,
Welcome to your gory bed
Or to victory!
Now is the day, and now is the hour:
See the front of battle lour (impending),
See approach proud Edward's power -Chains and slavery!
Who will be a traitor knave?
Wha will fill a coward's grave?
Who so base as be a slave?
-Let him turn, and flea!
Who for Scotland's King and Law
Freedom's sword will strongly draw,
Freeman stand or freeman fall,
Let him follow me!
By oppression's woes and pains,
By your sons in servile chains,
We will drain our dearest veins
But they shall be free!
Lay the proud usurpers low!
Tyrants fall in every foe!
Liberty is in every blow!
Let us do or die!

The tune he wrote it to is Hey Tuttie Tatie which is the tune that was supposedly played to Bruce's army at the actual battle. I couldn't find a video clip of a bagpipe band playing this tune but I found a great fiddle group. Scots Wha Hae is the third tune and they sing the lyrics too so you can see how they fit in with the music.



Pipe on!

2 comments:

Ed said...

This is going to seem meaningless, but a friend of mine in highschool wore a kilt when he had practice after school. Bagpipes are cool.

Piping Girl said...

Thanks for stopping by. Anyone wearing a kilt is filled with meaning :)

 
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