Scotlands Songs

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Scots Wha Hae

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Scots Wha Hae sung by Hamish Henderson with 1951 audience 


This used to be considered Scotland’s National Anthem, now several songs are in contention for that honour.


Robert Burns called this stirring song of his ‘Robert Bruce’s March to Bannockburn’, using the ancient tune ‘Hey Tutti Taitie’. He imagined what “one might suppose to be the gallant royal Scot’s address to his heroic followers on that eventful morning.”


Scots, wha hae wi Wallace bled

Scots, wham Bruce has aften led

Welcome to your gory bed

Or to 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 wad be a traitor knave?

Wha can 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 wad strongly draw

Freeman stand or freeman fa',

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's in every blow!

Let us do, or dee!


Select above to hear ‘Scots Wha Hae’ sung by Hamish Henderson and the audience at the end of the 1951 People’s Festival Ceilidh in Edinburgh.


Select below to hear ‘Hey Tuttie Taitie’ played on harp by Heather Yule.


We probably know what tune was played for Robert the Bruce’s troops as they marched to the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314.

Robert Burns wrote in a letter, “There is a tradition, which I have met with in many places in Scotland, that (‘Hey Tuttie Taitie’) was Robert Bruce’s March at the battle of Bannockburn.” Burns took the tune and slowed it down.

‘Hey Tuttie Taitie’ is a very old tune. We do not have a document from 1314 that says the tune was used at Bannockburn. But there is, we are told, a document in the French Château Royal de Blois, that says the tune was played on the 29th April 1429 by her Scottish soldiers as a march when Joan of Arc entered the city of Orleans. It was called a Scottish March then. It has been played as part of the annual Joan of Arc memorial celebrations in the town of Orleans, where they called it ‘Marche des Soldats de R. Bruce’, or ‘March of the Soldiers of Robert Bruce’.

‘Hey Tuttie Taitie’ demonstrates the problems of trying to put a simple label on a tune. It was used as a march. It is in the form of a strathspey. Burns gave two sets of lyrics for the tune – he wrote ‘Scots Wha Hae’, and wrote or added to ‘Landlady, Count The Lawin’, a song about drinking all night. So ‘Hey Tuttie Taitie’ is a march, a strathspey dance tune, and the tune of a patriotic song and a drinking song.


Here is the lyric of 'Landlady Count The Lawin'


Landlady, count the lawin

The day is near the dawin

Ye’re aa blind drunk, boys

And I’m but jolly fou


Hey, tutti, taiti

How, tutti, taiti

Hey, tutti, taiti

Wha’s fu noo?


Cog an ye were aye fu

Cog an ye were aye fu,

I wad sit and sing tae you

If ye were aye fu.


Weel may we aa be,

Ill may we never see,

God bless the guidwife

And the company.


‘Scots Wha Hae’ and many other Burns songs were translated into Russian by the poet Samuil Marshak.


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‘Hey Tuttie Taitie’ played on harp by Heather Yule