Introduced by Jeff Gillett

Glenlogie, or Jean O Bethelnie is No. 238 in the Child Collection. The earliest text in Child dates back to 1768.

It is a ballad with a happy ending, but perhaps none the worse for that! There is no murder, no rape, no incest: the most sensational element is emotional blackmail. The young Lady Jeannie sees Glenlogie and falls head-over-heels in love with him. When he says he is already promised to another, she takes to her bed and prepares to die for love. Glenlogie relents, they are married and (we suppose) live happily ever after!

The tune that I know best for it was written by Shirley Collins, and I loved it from the moment Ron Taylor first introduced me to it.

I have a particularly soft spot for the song because it was one of the earliest for which I was happy with my own attempts at finding a way of accompanying traditional song that might enhance the vocal performance without restricting it in any way.

Here is the recorded performance of Glenlogie by Ron Taylor and myself (also featuring my other long-term collaborator, Becky Dellow on the fiddle), which is taken from our Wildgoose CD Buy it, Try it (and Never Repent You).

"Glenlogie" sheet music
Click here to download a PDF of the sheet music.


There were four and twenty nobles came to the king’s hall,
And bonny Glenlogie was the flower of them all.
And the fair Lady Jeannie came tripping downstairs
And fell in love with Glenlogie out of all that were there.

She sent for the footman that ran by his side,
Saying: ‘Who is that young man, and where does he bide?’
‘He bides at Glenlogie when he is at home,
And he’s of the gay Gordons; and his name is Lord John.’

‘Glenlogie, Glenlogie, and you would prove kind,
I have laid my love on you, I’m sure in my mind.’
But he’s turned around lightly, as the Gordons do all,
Says: ‘I thank you, Lady Jeannie, but I’m promised away.’

She’s sent for her ladies her bed for to make
And the rings on her fingers, she did them all break;
Saying: ‘Is there a bonny boy that would win hose and shoon
That would ride to Glenlogie and bid my love come?’

When Glenlogie saw the letter, a loud laugh laughed he.
But when he had read it, the tears blinded his eye;
Saying: ‘What is my lineage, and what is my make
That such a bonny lady should die for my sake?’

When he’s come to the castle, little mirth there was there
But weeping and wailing and tearing of hair.
And pale and wan was she when Glenlogie came in;
Ah, but red and rosy grew she when she saw it was him!

‘Turn around, Lady Jeannie, turn around to my side
For I’ll be the bridegroom, and you’ll be my bride!’
And it was a merry wedding – all silver and gold –
For bonny Jeannie Gordon, just seventeen years old.

Jeff Gillett writes: My interest in folk music dates back to my childhood, when my parents introduced me to the music of Pete Seeger and Joan Baez. I later discovered Martin Carthy and began to explore folk music from the UK. I have a great deal of sympathy for those who regard folksong as an essentially unaccompanied form, and have devoted my own efforts as singer and accompanist to finding an approach that supports the song without swamping it.

I performed with Ron Taylor intermittently for about 30 years, concurrently working in largely instrumental line-ups with fiddle-player Becky Dellow (culminating in Mischief Afoot). I have appeared on albums by Jim Causley, Martin and Shan Graebe, Craig Morgan Robson and Marianne McAleer, and was also in a duo with Sarah Morgan. Currently, I perform solo and with Elaine Gillett as Discovery.

I play guitar, mandolin, mandola, English concertina and Appalachian Mountain dulcimer.

Introduced by Peter and Barbara Snape

“Sprig of Thyme” was widely collected and published on broadsides throughout the British Isles. The version we sing here is from the John Greaves collection of Irlam Hall, Manchester and published in Lancashire Lyrics, Songs and Ballads of the County Palatine, edited by John Harland in 1866.

The song is of the same character as “The Seeds of Love” and also “Love’s Evil Choice or The Unfortunate Damsel,” a poem written by Mrs Fleetwood of Habergham Hall, Padiham, near Burnley in Lancashire, who wrote it to console herself when, in 1689, her husband’s extravagances finally led to the loss of the family estate.

It is interesting to note some similarities between “Sprig of Thyme” and “Seeds of Love,” the first song collected by Cecil Sharp.

Listen to Peter and Barbara Snape singing “Sprig of Thyme:”

"Sprig of Thyme" sheet music
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You virgins far and near,
That flourish in your prime,
I’d have you keep your gardens clear,
Let no man steal your thyme.

Once I had a sprig of thyme,
It flourished night and day,
Til at length there came a false young man,
Who stole my thyme away.

And now my thyme’s all gone,
And I cannot plant no new,
In the very same place where grew my thyme,
It’s overrun with rue.

Rue, rue, runs over all;
But rue will not be seen,
I will plant again in the very same place,
And call it willow green.

Willow, willow, I must wear,
And willow is my doom,
Since my false love has forsaken me,
And left me here to moan.

The gardener standing by,
Three flowers he offered me,
The lily, the pink, the red rose-bud,
But I refused all three.

The pink is a flower that is sweet,
And so is the rose in June;
The lily is the virgin flower,
Alas! oft cropped too soon.

Peter and Barbara Snape live in the North West of England and perform traditional song from that area. They research songs with varied and interesting themes and perform them with commitment, passion and enjoyment. Closely aligned to their research and singing interests, Cotton Town Chronicles is a presentation of songs about working life during the age when cotton and coal were king in Lancashire. Anne Geddes Gilchrist, OBE, with its focus on the songs she collected in her native Lancashire, is an overview of a remarkable woman who became a pivotal figure both within the folk-song collecting community of the early 20th Century and in the publication of the Journal of the Folk Song Society.

Introduced by Arthur Knevett

This ballad has enjoyed widespread popularity. It was regularly printed on broadsides, which have kept it in circulation and helped to stabilize the text.

The story is a ‘ripping yarn’ concerning an adventurous lord who sails to Turkey and is taken prisoner. The jailer’s daughter, Sophie, releases him and he sails home to freedom. After seven years, she decides to find him, and having done so, he jilts his new bride and marries her!

It’s one of the few Child ballads that has a happy ending (except, of course, for the jilted bride). It has been a favourite of mine since I learnt it in the 1960s from the recording of Bert Lloyd (The English and Scottish Popular Ballads, Vol. 2 on Riverside Records, 1956).

The mp3 is from the Fellside “Ballads” CD in 1997.

Listen to Arthur Knevett singing “Lord Bateman:”

"Lord Bateman" sheet music
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Lord Bateman was a noble lord
A noble lord of some high degree
He set his foot on board of ship
Some foreign country he would go see

He sailed east and he sailed west
Until he came to proud Turkey
There he was taken and put in prison
‘Til of his life he grew quite weary

Now in this prison there grew a tree
It grew so stout and it grew so strong
There he was chained all by the middle
Until his life it was almost gone.

This jailer had but one only daughter
The fairest creature my two eyes did see
She stole the keys to her father’s prison
And vowed Lord Bateman she would set free.

“Have you got houses, have you got lands
And does Northumberland belong to thee?
What would you give to that fair young lady
That out of prison would set you free?”

“Oh I’ve got houses and I’ve got lands
And half Northumberland belongs to me
I’d give it all to that fair young lady
That out of prison would set me free.”

She took him to her marble parlour
With sugar cake and the best of wine
And every health that she drank unto him,
“I wish, Lord Bateman, your heart was mine.

“For seven long years I will make a vow
For seven long years I will keep it strong
If you do not wed to no other woman
Then I will wed to no other man.”

She took him to her father’s harbour
And gave to him a ship of fame.
“Adieu, adieu to you Lord Bateman
I fear I never will see you again.”

When seven long years and fourteen days
When seven long years well nigh were gone
She dressed herself in her silken clothes
O’er the raging main to find Lord Bateman.

She floated low and she floated high
‘Till turf and stone she has chanced to spy
Then she went cracking of her fair white fingers
As for Lord Bateman she did enquire.

“Oh isn’t this Lord Batemans palace
And is that noble lord within?”
“Oh yes, oh yes,” cried the brisk young porter
“He has just taken his new bride in.”

“Then tell him to send me a slice of bread
And a bottle of the best of wine
And not to forget that fair young lady
That did release him when close confined.”

“What news, what news, oh my brisk young porter
What news, what news have you brought to me?”
“There is a lady enquiring for you
The fairest creature my eyes did see.

“She tells you to send her a slice of bread
And a bottle of the best of wine
And not to forget that fair young lady
Who did release you when close confined.”

Lord Bateman flew into a passion
He broke the table in splinters three
“I’ll lay my life if that’s young Sophie
So now my new wed wife, farewell to thee.”

“I own I made a bride of thee
But you’re none the better nor the worse by me,
You came to me on a horse and saddle
You shall go back in a coach and three.”

He then prepared such another wedding
And both their hearts, they was full of glee.
“I’ll sail no more to a foreign country
Now that my Sophie has crossed the sea.”

Arthur Knevett writes: I have had a passion for English traditional songs, particularly ballads, since the 1960s. When a folk club opened in Surbiton, where I lived, I was one the first members. Over the years I have sung at many clubs and festivals but always working around the ‘day job’ as a university lecturer. Now that I have more time available I am pursuing academic research, writing journal articles and giving guest lectures while also continuing with my great passion of singing traditional songs. Further details can be found at my website.

Introduced by Ed Trickett

I spent only one evening with E. G. Huntington at his home on Martha’s Vineyard. That was in 1965. It was a truly wonderful evening of music and conversation, during which Gale played for me this version of the “Greenland Whale Fisheries” which he called “Brave Boys.”

I didn’t have a tape recorder or my photographic memory with me, so he wrote out the melody and sent it to me some months later, along with a small booklet of The Dukes County Intelligencer, May, 1961, which was published by the Dukes County Historical Society in Edgartown, Massachusetts.

The booklet was filled with songs Gale had collected from the Tilton family, a family famous for their singing as well as for their whaling. The words to “Brave Boys” were in it, but the tune Gale wrote out for me was different from that in the book. Of the two, I chose the one he had sung for me that night, and am proud to be able to pass it on.

Listen to Ed Trickett singing “Brave Boys:”

"Brave Boys" sheet music
Click here to download a PDF of the sheet music.


It was eighteen hundred and thirty-nine,
On the thirteenth day of May,
We weighed our anchor and set our sail
And for Greenland bore away, brave boys,
For Greenland bore away.

The Captain’s name it was William Moore,
And the mate’s name was the same.
The ship she was called the Lion so bold,
As she plowed the raging main, brave boys,
She plowed the raging main.

Oh, the mate he stood in the top cross tree,
And a fine looking man was he,
A-searching the horizon with a spy-glass in his hand,
“It’s a whale, a whale, a fish, brave boys,
It’s a whale, a fish,” cried he.

And the Captain he stood on the quarterdeck,
A fine looking man was he,
“Overhaul, overhaul, let your davit tackles fall,
And lower your boats to the sea, brave boys,
Lower your boats to the sea.”

The boats being lowered and the whale being struck,
He gave one flurry with his tail,
And down went the boat and them six jolly tars,
Never to rise any more, brave boys,
No, they never come up any more.

When the Captain he heard of the loss of his men,
It grieved his heart full sore,
But when he heard of the loss of that whale,
it grieved him ten times more, brave boys,
grieved him ten times more.

Oh, the summer months are past and gone,
And cold winter’s coming on,
So, we’ll head our ship back to New Bedford
And the pretty girls standing on the shore, brave boys,
pretty girls standing on the shore.

Ed Trickett writes: I have been collecting and performing folk music for over 60 years. My early musical influences were Frank Proffitt, Larry Older, Bob and Evelyn Beers, George and Gerry Armstrong, and Howie Mitchell. Later I learned from and sang with a number of other musicians whose commitment and talent were/are extraordinary: Gordon Bok, Bob Coltman, Cathy Barton and Dave Para, and Ann Mayo Muir. My recording efforts began in 1964 with the Golden Ring (Folk-Legacy #16), a loose collection of friends who used to gather in the living room of George and Gerry Armstrong in Wilmette, Illinois. I’ve been part of 4 other ensemble recordings since then, all with Folk Legacy Records, recorded 4 solo albums, and, during the 26 years I sang with Gordon Bok and Ann Mayo Muir, ten other CDs. “Brave Boys” is a traditional song I learned from Gale Huntington at his house on Martha’s Vineyard in 1965.

Introduced by Carolyn Robson

The folk song collector George Gardiner collected over 1200 songs from the county of Hampshire in southern England during the period 1904–1908. In 1907, he collected about 164 songs from five women in the village of Axford near Basingstoke in the northwest of the county.

One of these women, Sarah Goodyear, gave him 41 of these songs, including one of my favourites, ’Abroad as I was walking.’ It is the common tale of a young woman who is seduced by an older man and falls pregnant. He is what is commonly termed a ‘bounder’ and blames her for her ‘wanton will,’ though she is just 14 years old. These days, it would have been a clear case of child sex abuse.

The song is an English version of the Irish song ‘Blackwaterside.’ I was a member of the trio Craig Morgan Robson, and we joined forces with the lovely Askew Sisters to record a CD of songs collected from these women, called ‘The Axford Five.’ So here I am singing this song accompanied by Hazel and Emily Askew.

"Abroad as I Was Walking" sheet music
Click here to download a PDF of the sheet music.


Abroad as I was walking down by some green wood side
I heard a fair maid singing ‘I wish I was a bride.’
‘I thank you pretty maiden for the singing of your song.
Tis I myself will marry you.’ ‘Kind Sir, I am too young.’

‘The younger you are the better, more fitter for my bride,
That all the world may plainly see I married my wife a maid.’
Nine times I kissed her ruby lips and viewed her sparkling eye
I catched her by the lily white hand one night with her to lie.

And all the fore part of that night we lay in sport and play
And all the latter part of that night I lay in her arms til day.
Til day, til day, til day, til daylight did appear
Then this young man rose, put on his clothes, said ‘Fare you well, my dear.’

‘What did you promise me last night as I lay by your side?
You promised you would marry me, make me your lawful bride.’
‘What I did promise you last night was in a merry mood,
I vow, I swear, I do declare, I’m not so very good.

Go home to your father’s garden. Go home and weep your fill,
And when you’ve thought on what you’ve done, you’ll blame your wanton will.’
‘My parents brought me up like a small bird in a cage
And now I am with child by you, scarce 14 years of age.

It’s other farmers’ daughters, to market they do go
While I, poor girl, must stay at home and rock the cradle o’er
And rock the cradle o’er and o’er, sing hush-ee lullaby
Was there ever a maid and a pretty fair maid in love, so crossed as I?’

Carolyn Robson is a singer and choir leader now living in the south of England, but originally from the northeast. Her repertoire consists mainly of Northumbrian and Scottish songs, as well as songs from Hampshire, where she runs 4 choirs. She was a member of the renowned a cappella trio Craig Morgan Robson. Carolyn also runs workshops and sings with Moira Craig. The duo have toured the US on numerous occasions and will be tutors at TradMad in 2021.

Introduced by Margaret Bennett

I’ve chosen a ballad I’ve loved for years: ‘The Dowie Dens o’ Yarrow’ (Child 214).

As a student in the mid-sixties, I joined the Glasgow Folksong and Ballad Club, and among the unforgettable singers was an Aberdeenshire traveller, Davie Stewart. He played the accordion and sang with such conviction that I was transfixed.

Apart from a stint in the army during WW1, Davie spent his life as an itinerant worker, finally settling in Glasgow, where he was a street singer. Alan Lomax recorded him in London in 1957 capturing the passion that stopped folk in the street: Davie knew how to tell the story.

Listen to Davie Stewart, recorded by Alan Lomax in 1957:

Listen to Margaret Bennett, recorded at the Storytelling Festival, Edinburgh, 2018:

"The Dowie Dens o' Yarrow" sheet music
Click here to download a PDF of the sheet music.


There was a lady in the north,
You’d scarcely find her marrow
She was courted by nine noblemen,
In the Dowie Dens o’ Yarrow.

Her faither had a young ploughboy
And him she loved most dearly,
She dressed him up as a nobleman,
And sent him off to Yarrow.

These nine noblemen sat drinking wine,
Drinking tae their sorrow,
That the fairest maid you ever saw
Was in the Dowie Dens o’ Yarrow.

“Well, did you come here tae play cards or dice?
Did you come here for sorrow?
Or did you come here to slay us a’
In the Dowie Dens o’ Yarrow?”

“Well, I neither cam tae play cards or dice,
Nor did I come for sorrow,
But one by one as lang as ye stand
I will fight ye a’ in Yarrow.”

Well it’s three he drew, and three he slew,
And three he deadly wounded;
But her false brother John came running in
And pierced him through the middle.

“Oh go home, go home, you false young man,
Go tell your sister’s sorrow,
That her true lover John lies dead and gone
In the Dowie Dens o’ Yarrow.”

“Oh mother dear, I have dreamed a dream,
I fear it may prove sorrow,
That my true lover John lies dead and gone
In the Dowie Dens o’ Yarrow.”

“Oh, daughter dear, I have read your dream,
And yes, the blood proves sorrow,
For your true lover John lies dead and gone,
In the Dowie Dens o’ Yarrow.”

Her hair being of three-quarters lang,
The colour bein yellow,
She wrapped it round his middle sae sma’
And she carried him hame tae Yarrow.

“Oh, mother dear, come and mak my bed,
Oh make it long and narrow,
For my true lover John died for me today,
I will die for him tomorrow.”

Originally from the Isle of Skye, Margaret Bennett is a singer, storyteller and writer. She studied Folklore at Memorial University of Newfoundland, and from 1984–96 was on the staff of the School of Scottish Studies. She now lives in Perthshire, sings at festivals both sides of the Atlantic, and teaches part-time at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.

Introduced by Martin Graebe

I heard this first as ‘Polly Von,’ sung by Peter, Paul and Mary in the 1960s, but that is an interpretation of a traditional song with many titles. Though widely found in England and Ireland, Roud lists more variants in the USA than from anywhere else.

This lovely version was collected by Sabine Baring-Gould from mine-worker Samuel Fone, of Mary Tavy, in 1893. Fone was his most prolific singer and a man who specialised in beautiful tunes, some learned from navvies he had worked with. I have ‘repaired’ verse 2. You can see the manuscript entry here.

Listen to Martin and Shan Graebe sing “The Setting of the Sun,” from their album Dusty Diamonds, Wildgoose Records, WGS359CD, 2008:

"Setting of the Sun" sheet music
Click here to download a PDF of the sheet music.

Sung by Samuel Fone, Mary Tavy, 12 July 1893


Come all you young fellows that carry a gun
Beware of late shooting when daylight is done
For it’s little you reckon what hazards you run
I shot my own love at the setting of the sun.
In a shower of rain as my darling did run
All under the bushes a shower to shun
Her apron ‘bout her neck I took her for a swan
I shot the only maid I loved at the setting of the sun.

I’ll fly from my country I nowhere find rest
I shot my own true love as a bird on her nest
Oh curse that old gunsmith that made that old gun
I shot my own true love at the setting of the sun.
In a shower, etc.

O it’s son, dearest son, don’t you run away
Don’t leave your own country until the trial day
Don’t leave your own country till the trial is done
For shooting your own love at the setting of the sun.
In a shower, etc.

On a night to her uncle the fair maid appeared
Saying, ‘Uncle, dear uncle, of me be not afeard
With my apron ‘bout my neck in the rain I did run
He shot me as a swan at the setting of the sun.
In a shower, etc.

Martin Graebe is a researcher and writer and is best known for his study of the life and work of Sabine Baring-Gould. His book As I Walked Out: Sabine Baring-Gould and the Search for the Folk Songs of Devon and Cornwall (Signal Books, 2017) has received both the Katharine Briggs Folklore Award and the R. G Hoskins Prize. He and his wife, Shan, perform traditional songs together with a particular focus on the songs of Southern England.

Introduced by Cindy Mangsen

Child Ballad #239 exists in fragments, telling the story of Annachie and his love Jeannie, forced by her father to marry another man for his status and wealth. Jeannie tells her parents that if she marries the lord, she’ll refuse to share his bed and will die for her true love.

Sure enough, she dies on the very day of the wedding, which is also the day Annachie returns from his seafaring. He dies, of course, of grief. It’s a tear-jerker of a story, but when put to this beautiful melody (thank you, Nic Jones), becomes incredibly moving. Emily Friedman introduced me to this song, many years ago in Chicago.

Listen to Cindy sing “Annachie Gordon:”

"Annachie Gordon" sheet music
Click here to download a PDF of the sheet music.


Buchan is bonnie and there lives my love
My heart it lies on him, it will not remove
It will not remove for all that I have done
Oh never will I forget my love Annachie
For Annachie Gordon is bonnie and he’s braw
He’d entice any woman that ever him saw
He’d entice any woman and so he has done me
Never will I forget my love Annachie

Down came her father, standing on the floor
Sayin’ Jeannie’s trying the tricks of a whore
You care nothing for a man who cares so very much for thee
You must marry with Lord Salton and forget young Annachie
For Annachie Gordon is only but a man
Although he may be pretty, ah but where are all his lands?
Salton’s lands are broad and his towers they stand high
You must marry with Lord Salton and forget young Annachie

With Annachie Gordon I would beg for my bread
Before I’d marry Salton with gold to my head
With gold to my head and my gown swings to the knee
And I’ll die if I don’t get my love Annachie
And you that are my parents, though to church you may me bring
Ah but unto Lord Salton I will never bear a son
Oh a son or a daughter and I’ll never bow my knee
And I’ll die if I don’t get my love Annachie

When Jeannie was married and from church she was brought home
And she and her maidens so merry should have been
When she and her maidens so merry should have been
She’s gone to her chamber and she’s crying all alone.

Come to bed now Jeannie, my honey and my sweet
For to style you my mistress it would not be meet.
Oh it’s mistress or Jeannie, it’s all the same to me
And it’s in your bed Lord Salton I never shall be
Up spoke her father and he’s spoken with renown
All you that are her maidens, won’t you loosen off her gown
But she fell down in a swoon so low down by their knee
Saying, look on, for I’m dying for my love Annachie

The day that Jeannie married was the day that Jeannie died
That’s the day young Annachie came rolling from the tide
And down came her maidens and wringing of their hands
Saying woe to you, Annachie, for staying from the sand
So long from the land and so long upon the flood
Oh they’ve married your Jeannie and now she’s dead

You that are her maidens, won’t you take me by the hand
Won’t you lead me to the chamber where my love lies in
And he’s kissed her cold lips til his heart turned to stone
And he’s died in the chamber where his true love lay in

Cindy Mangsen writes: I am a singer, songwriter, guitar/concertina player who loves being part of the long chain!

Alex Sturbaum

This song was written in support of our friends working in health care and other essential fields during the COVID-19 pandemic, who put their lives on the line every day to keep us safe and healthy while being denied everything from basic protective equipment to hazard pay. We wanted to send support to our friends on the front lines, express outrage and frustration that they have been put in such an impossible situation, and hope for the day that we can welcome them back safely.

This song is also a call to action for those of us who are still financially secure – please check out the fundraiser mentioned at the end of the video, with clickable links available through the video on YouTube and Facebook.

Listen to Alex Sturbaum and friends sing “Stand Steady:”


It’s peel off your scrubs, stumble in through the door
Step into the shower and scrub yourself raw
It’s in at eleven, it’s back out at four
For there’s work to be done for the living
Ye who toil on the border between life and death
You’re fighting for those who are fighting for breath
It’s a battle that takes until little is left
And it’s fearful and seldom forgiving

Stand steady, my friends, in the darkest of times
Our love will go with you as you hold the line
When the hardship is past, we as one will entwine
And we’ll dance to a better world coming

Behind gloves, behind masks, there’s a courage that dwells
When you head off to work in a world gone to hell
Do the job you were trained for, and do it as well
As you can with the tools you’ve been given
Politicians and ministers promise to serve
And to give us relief that we need and deserve
If any among them had half of your nerve
They’d have done more and done it unbidden

Stand steady, my friends, in the darkest of times
Our love will go with you as you hold the line
When the hardship is past, we as one will entwine
And we’ll dance to a better world coming

So hold on to hope through exhaustion and fear
And we’ll go safe to ground till you give the all clear
And when this is all over we still will be here
In the bright shining light of the morning
When the bars are back open, we’ll buy you a round
Lift our voices in song, raise the roof with the sound
And we’ll join hands and dance till our feet shake the ground
To welcome the heroes returning

So stand steady, my friends, in the darkest of times
Our love will go with you as you hold the line
When the hardship is past, we as one will entwine
And we’ll dance to a better world coming
Stand steady, my friends, in the darkest of times
Our love will go with you as you hold the line
When the hardship is past, we as one will entwine
And we’ll dance to a better world coming
I know there’s a better world coming

Alex Sturbaum is a songwriter and contra dance musician living in Seattle, WA. They perform with the bands Countercurrent, The Waxwings, and Gallimaufry, and produce the Vashon Sessions. Their second solo album, Loomings, comes out this month.

Introduced by Andrew Calhoun

This lyric to “Galla-water” is taken from David Herd’s Ancient and Modern Scots Songs (1769), p. 312. Herd was an excellent collector who did not manipulate/correct the source material, but he did not publish the song melodies.

The song was next published as #125 in Volume 2 of The Scots Musical Museum, with the lyric poorly adjusted. The SMM’s musical editor, Stephen Clarke, only printed the A part of the melody, a move typical of this indolent character through whom so much of the Scots song tradition, including the bulk of the songs of Robert Burns, has unfortunately been filtered. Clarke was in fact a church organist from Durham, England.

The full tune I sing here, “Braw Lads of Galla-water,” was published by James Oswald in book 8 of The Caledonian Companion in 1756. Burns wrote a new version of the song using the same first line for the publisher George Thomson, but it does not match the quality and mystery of the old words. The shifting perspective in the lyric is well supported by the contrasting musical parts.

Listen to Andrew Calhoun sing “Braw Lads of Galla-water:”

"Braw Lads of Galla Water" sheet music
Click here to download a PDF of the sheet music.


Braw braw lads of Galla-water (braw – fine)
O braw lads of Galla-water
I’ll kilt my coats below my knee
And follow my love through the water.
Sae fair her hair, sae brent her brow, (brent – smooth)
Sae bonnie blue her een my dearie,
Sae white her teeth, sae sweet her mou, (mouth)
I aften kiss her till I’m wearie.
O’er yon bank, and o’er yon brae, (brae – slope)
O’er yon moss, amang the heather, (moss – bog)
I’ll kilt my coats aboon my knee (above)
And follow my love through the water.
Down amang the broom, the broom,
Down amang the broom, my dearie
The lassie lost her silken snood, (symbol of maidenhead)
That gart her greet till she was wearie. (made her weep)

Andrew Calhoun is a gigging singer-songwriter/folk artist since 1975. He’s founded and managed Waterbug Records, Inc. from 1992–2019. In 2012 he received the Lantern Bearer Award from Folk Alliance Region Midwest; in 2014, a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Woodstock Folk Festival. He’s currently (2020) at work on a Robert Burns songbook called “Glorious Work,” which will have 328 songs based on research into their original tunes and texts.