I first published this just before the SNP sweep of the Westminster elections of 2015. Now, as we are staging for Indyref 2, seems like a good one to repost.
‘In honour of the just published Guardian poll which has the SNP/Yes Alliance sweeping the coming parliamentary elections on May 7th in Scotland: today I am posting the legendary Dick Gaughan singing Robert Burns’ immortal song ‘Scots Wha Hae‘.
Written in 1793, ‘Scots Wha Hae‘ is an unofficial national anthem of Scotland. Burns conceived the lyrics as a speech given by Robert Bruce to his troops at Bannockburn; but when Burns wrote them, the French Revolution was in full swing, and the radical lawyer Thomas Muir of Huntershill was being tried in Edinburgh for sedition, an attempt by the British government to tamp down the fires of revolution at home. Thomas Muir was sentenced to transportation and fourteen years at the convict settlement of Botany Bay.
Burns wrote to George Thomson, his publisher, about this song that he had been inspired to write it by Bruce’s ‘glorious struggle for Freedom, associated with the glowing ideas of some other struggles of the same nature, not quite so ancient.’ It is set to the traditional Scottish tune ‘Hey Tuttie Tatie’ which, according to tradition, was played by Bruce’s army at the Battle of Bannockburn.
Today, ‘Scots Wha Hae‘ is the party song of the Scottish National Party, and is sung at the close of their annual national conference each year.
Scots Wha Hae
By Robert Burns
Scots, wha hae wi’ Wallace bled,
Scots, wham Bruce has aften led;
Welcome to your gory bed,
Or to victory!
Now’s the day, and now’s the hour;
See the front o’ battle lour;
See approach proud Edward’s power—
Chains and slavery!
Wha will 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 will 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 die!