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Modern History Sourcebook:
The Flower of Scotland

If any song has been associated with Scottish nationalism in the 1970s and after, it has been The Flower of Scotland, made famous though its repeated performance the The Corries. It is now used as Scotland's anthem for international sporting events (although it is not the "national anthem" - that remains God Save the Queen), and has largely displaced Scotland the Brave (see below for words). As with a number of other Scottish patriotic songs, the lyrics commemorate the defeat of Edward II at Bannockburn in 1314 (see below for Robert Burns Scots Wha Hae, and Fields of Bannockburn).  This is one of the two great historical events which seem to dominate Scottish patriotic songs - the other being the Jacobite rebellions of the 18th century.

Notice how, as is common in nationalist music, one point in history is exalted, and the rest elided. The line O'er land that is lost now/Which those so dearly held is especially notable in ignoring the real and largely successful efforts to create a "British" nationality in the 18th century. The implication is that Scotland is just another colonized land, an opinion that is not sustainable upon investigation: at all levels of society the Scots participated in British imperial armies (see Scottish Soldier below); Scottish politicians have repeatedly held the highest national and party offices in Britain; and Scotland has long been rather over-represented in the British House of Commons. It's worth noting that until very recently, the "Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party" had widespread support.

A question of interest might be this: why is it common to dismiss Serbian exaltation of the Battle of Kosovo, and Ulster Protestant love of the Battle of the Boyne, but a cult celebrated by Hollywood to recall the Battle of Bannockburn? One point worth bearing in mind is that, for the most part, Scots retain a healthy sense of humor (See Happy Hooligans of Wembley below.)

For many more Scottish lyrics see Ken McGirr's Scottish Song Page


The Flower of Scotland

Words and music: Roy Williamson (1936-l990)

Click here for a midi file of the The Flower of Scotland or another

Click here to download a zipped WAV of The Corries singing verse one
of The Flower of Scotland [first download, then unzip, then play]

O flower of Scotland
When will we see
Your like again
That fought and died for
Your wee bit hill and glen
And stood against him
Proud Edward's army
And sent him homeward
Tae think again

The hills are bare now
And autumn leaves lie thick and still
O'er land that is lost now
Which those so dearly held
And stood against him
Proud Edward's army
And sent him homeward
Tae think again

Those days are passed now
And in the past they must remain
But we can still rise now
And be the nation again
That stood against him
Proud Edward's army
And sent him homeward
Tae think again


Scots Wha Hae

Click here for a midi file of the Scots Wha Hae

Words: Robert Burns

Scots, wha hae wi' Wallace bled,
Socts, 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 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,
--- Free-man stand, or Free-man 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!


Fields of Bannockburn

Twas on a bonnie simmer's day,
me English came in grand array
King Edward's orders to obey ,
Upon the Field of Bannockburn.

cho: Sae loudly let the Pibroch wake
Each loyal Clan frae hill and lake ,
And boldly fight for Scotia's sake
Upon the Field of Bannockburn.

King Edward raised his standard high,
Bruce shook his banners in reply -
Each army shouts for victory
Upon the Field of Bannockburn.

The English horse wi' deadly aim
Upon the Scottish army came;
But hundrteds in our pits were slain
Upon the Field of Bannockburn.

Loud rose the war cry of McNeil,
Who flew like tigers to the field
And made the Sass'nach army feel
There were dauntless hearts at Bannockburn.

McDonald's clan, how firm their pace-
Dark vengeance gleams in ev'ry face,
Lang had they thirsted to embrace
Their Sass'nach friends at Bannockburn.

The Fraser bold his brave clan led,
While wide their thistle banners spread-
They boldly fell and boldly bled
Upon the Field of Bannockburn.

The ne'er behind brave Douglas came,
And also with him Donald Graham,
Their blood-red painted swords did stain
The glorious Field of Bannockburn.

That day King Edward's heart did mourn,
With joy each Scottish heart did burn,
In mem'ry now let us return
Our thanks to Bruce at Bannockburn.

Scotland the Brave

Click here for a midi file of the Scotland the Brave (instruments)
or, for the really brave, another version (pipes)

Hark when the night is falling Hear! hear the pipes are calling,
Loudly and proudly calling, Down thro' the glen.
There where the hills are sleeping, Now feel the blood a-leaping,
High as the spirits of the old Highland men.

Towering in gallant fame, Scotland my mountain hame,
High may your proud standards gloriously wave,
Land of my high endeavour,
Land of the shining river, Land of my heart for ever,
Scotland the brave.

High in the misty Highlands,
Out by the purple islands,
Brave are the hearts that beat
Beneath Scottish skies.
Wild are the winds to meet you,
Staunch are the friends that greet you,
Kind as the love that shines from fair maiden's eyes.

Towering in gallant fame etc.

Far off in sunlit places, Sad are the Scottish faces,
Yearning to feel the Kiss Of sweet Scottish rain.
Where tropic skies are beaming, Love sets the heart a-dreaming,
Longing and dreaming for the homeland again.

Towering in gallant fame etc.


Scottish Soldier

Click here for a midi file of the Scottish Soldier

There was a soldier, a Scottish soldier
who wandered far away and soldiered far away
there was none bolder, with good broad shoulders,
he fought in many a fray and fought and won
He's seen the glory, he's told the story
of battles glorious and deeds victorious
But now he's sighing his heart is crying
to leave these green hills of Tyroll

chorus
Because these green hills are not highland hills
or the Islands hills their not my lands hills,
as fair as these green foreign hills may be
they are not the hills of home..

And now this soldier, this Scottish soldier,
who wandered far away and soldiered far away
sees leaves are falling, and death is calling
and he will fade away, on that dark land
He called his piper, his trusty piper
and bade him sound away, a pibroch sad to play
upon a hillside but Scottish hillside
not on these green hills of Tyrol

chorus
Because these green....... etc

And now this soldier this Scottish soldier
who wanders far no more, and soldiers far no more
now on a hillside, a Scottish hillside
you'll see a piper play this soldier home
he's seen the glory, he's told the story
of battles glorious and deeds victorious
but he will cease now, he is at peace now
far from these green hills of Tyroll

chorus
Because these green....... etc

repeat chorus

Happy Hooligans o' Wembley

Oh, I wear a Tartan Bunnet and a scarf around my throat
and I can sing the Flower of Scotland every single note.
For were gan doon tae London toun
tae paralyse the undergroond
and were just the happy hooligans of Wembley

chorus
So it's o'er the border if ye dare
and doon tae London for a tear
We're just the happy hooligans of Wembley

When Scotland's playing England oh it really fills my heart
wi' a' the flags and banners aye we surely look the part
But win or loose it's aw the same
we didnae come tae see the game
We're just the happy hooligans o' Wembley

Oh there's forty in my party, aye and that's including me
We havnae a' got tickets, in fact we've only three.
And three will win the lucky draw,
The rest'll be climbing o'er the wa'
We're just the happy hooligans o' Wembley

We're going to see how many pints that we can sink away
We're going drink Auld London dry, we'll drink it dry today
and before we've even seen a baw
we'll piss it up against the wa'
we're just the happy hooligans o' Wembley

And now the fun is over and we've finished aw the beer
we couldnae go back tae Scotland withoot a souvenir
so maybe for a wee bit lark
we'll dig up half o' Wembley park
We're just the happy hooligans o' Wembley

Now we're back in Scotland after all the deeds are done
We dinnae really give a damn if Scotland lost or won
For we met the English had our fun
reminded them o' Bannockburn
We're just the Happy hooligans of Wembley


Source:


This text is part of the Internet Modern History Sourcebook. The Sourcebook is a collection of public domain and copy-permitted texts for introductory level classes in modern European and World history.

Unless otherwise indicated the specific electronic form of the document is copyright. Permission is granted for electronic copying, distribution in print form for educational purposes and personal use. If you do reduplicate the document, indicate the source. No permission is granted for commercial use of the Sourcebook.

© Paul Halsall, July 1998
halsall@murray.fordham.edu