Prose & SongCorrespondence & Poetry

Robert Bruce’s Address to his Army at Bannockburn

Title: Robert Bruce’s Address to his Army at Bannockburn
First line: Scots, wha ha’e wi’ Wallace bled;
Air: Lewie Gordon
Performer: Alison McNeill
Source: Thomson, SCOSA C 1799, 74

Among the best-known of Burns’s lyrics and indeed now an integral part of Scottish culture, this song has an interesting history as part of Thomson’s collections. Burns intended it to be set to the air ‘Hey tutti taiti’; however, nodding to the advice of a circle of associates, Thomson felt that the air was ‘totally devoid of interest or grandeur’ and suggested ‘Lewie Gordon’ instead. Burns consented to the change, but following the poet’s death, Thomson revised his original position and commenced publishing the piece to both airs. There is an extended back and forth about this piece in the correspondence between Burns and Thomson, with Burns eventually losing patience with his editor’s suggestions. ‘Hey tutti taiti’ is the popular setting of the piece, so this recording – taken from the arrangement Thomson commissioned from Leopold Kozeluch – provides a curious alternative form.

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Robert Bruce’s Address to his Army at Bannockburn (357 downloads )

Recorded at The Green Door studio in Glasgow, 2016 (engineer: Sam Smith).