Historical Songs of Rugby

I am certainly no expert on rugby, a bit of a sunshine supporter I would say but I was watching the Ireland and Scotland friendly recently with mates in a bar in Prague and we joked before ever seeing the game that we didn’t know what we were more excited for…the game…or the anthems! I then realised that I knew every word of not only my own country’s (Ireland) anthems, but Scotland’s as well! It got me thinking that these songs are not only full of history, but they are just great anthems!

Knowing that there are thousands of rugby songs out there right now, I have decided to stick to the Six Nations countries for this blog with a larger emphasis on Ireland. So..clear the throats and prepare yourself for the 2015 Rugby World Cup. Here is The Áed’s songs to look out for in next year’s tournament!

1. France

France-Rugby

Don your berets for “La Marseillaise” when the French take the field. What type of France will show up will be the question! La Marseillaise is the French national anthem which was composed in one night during the French Revolution (April 24, 1792) by Claude-Joseph Rouget de Lisle, a captain of the engineers and an amateur musician.

After France declared war on Austria on April 20, 1792, P.F. Dietrich, the mayor of Strasbourg (where Rouget de Lisle was then quartered), expressed the need for a marching song for the French troops. “La Marseillaise” was Rouget de Lisle’s response to this call. Originally entitled “Chant de guerre de l’armée du Rhin” (“War Song of the Army of the Rhine”), the anthem came to be called “La Marseillaise” because of its popularity with volunteer army units from Marseille. The spirited and majestic song made an intense impression whenever it was sung at Revolutionary public occasions. The Convention accepted it as the French national anthem in a decree passed on July 14, 1795. “La Marseillaise” was banned by Napoleon during the empire and by Louis XVIII on the Second Restoration (1815) because of its Revolutionary associations. Authorized after the July Revolution of 1830, it was again banned by Napoleon III and not reinstated until 1879.

The original text of “La Marseillaise” had six verses, and a seventh and last verse (not written by Rouget de Lisle) was later added.

I

Allons enfants de la patrie,
Le jour de gloire est arriv?
Contre nous de la tyrannie
L’?tendard sanglant est lev?
Entendez vous dans les campagnes,
Mugir ces f?roces soldats?
Ils viennent jusque dans nos bras
Egorger nos fils, nos compagnes!

Refrain

Aux armes, citoyens!
Formez vos bataillons!
Marchons! Marchons!
Qu’un sang impur
Abreuve nos sillons!

English Translation

Let’s go children of the fatherland,
The day of glory has arrived!
Against us tyranny’s
Bloody flag is raised! (repeat)
In the countryside, do you hear
The roaring of these fierce soldiers?
They come right to our arms
To slit the throats of our sons, our friends!

Refrain

Grab your weapons, citizens!
Form your batallions!
Let us march! Let us march!
May impure blood
Water our fields!

2. Italy

italy-rugby-logo

The main song heard in Italian rugby is their national anthem.

The national anthem of Italy has three different names  :  its formal name is ‘Inno di Mameli‘ – Mameli’s hymn, named after the man who wrote the words; ‘Il Canto degli Italiani‘ – ‘the song of the Italian people’; and its most well-known name – the name Italian people almost invariably give it –  ‘Fratelli d’Italia‘ – ‘Brothers of Italy’ – which is its first line.

The Italian national anthem : background

Like all great national anthems, Italy’s was written in the shadow of war and is a patriotic call to arms with music to match.

Italian national anthem composer
Goffredo Mameli.

Its composer was a twenty year-old poet and composer, Goffredo Mameli, who tragically died only two years after it was written. He wasn’t well known and this was really his only masterpiece.

Written in 1847, during the first battles for Italian unification (‘Il Risorgimento‘) it was provisionally adopted as the Italian national anthem only in 1946.

Even more surprisingly, it was made the official anthem by law as recently as November 2005.

Fratelli d’Italia
L’Italia s’è desta
Dell’elmo di Scipio
S’è cinta la testa
Dov’è la vittoria
Le porga la chioma
Chè schiava di Roma
Iddio la creò

Stringia moci a coorte
Siam pronti alla morte (repeat)
L’Italia chiamò
Stringia moci a coorte
Siam pronti alla morte (repeat)
L’Italia chiamò, sì

Translation

Italian Brothers,
Italy has awakened,
She has wreathed her head
With the helmet of Scipio.
Where is Victory?
She bows her head to you,
You, whom God created
As the slave of Rome

Let us band together,
We are ready to die (repeat)
Italy has called us

(repeat entire song)

For more info on this song, check this out: http://www.explore-italian-culture.com/italian-national-anthem.html

3. England

england

The British National Anthem (God save the Queen) dates back to the eighteenth century.

‘God Save The King’ was a patriotic song first publicly performed in London in 1745, which came to be known as the National Anthem at the beginning of the nineteenth century.

The words and tune are anonymous, and may date back to the seventeenth century.

In September 1745 the ‘Young Pretender’ to the British Throne, Prince Charles Edward Stuart, defeated the army of King George II at Prestonpans, near Edinburgh.

In a fit of patriotic fervour after news of Prestonpans had reached London, the leader of the band at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, arranged ‘God Save The King’ for performance after a play. It was a tremendous success and was repeated nightly.

This practice soon spread to other theatres, and the custom of greeting monarchs with the song as he or she entered a place of public entertainment was thus established.

There is no authorised version of the National Anthem as the words are a matter of tradition. Additional verses have been added down the years, but these are rarely used.

The words used today are those sung in 1745, substituting ‘Queen’ for ‘King’ where appropriate. On official occasions, only the first verse is usually sung.

This is standard enough. England have a Queen, and they seem to really like her!

God save our gracious Queen,
Long live our noble Queen,
God save the Queen!
Send her victorious,
Happy and glorious,
Long to reign over us,
God save the Queen!

O lord God arise,
Scatter our enemies,
And make them fall!
Confound their knavish tricks,
Confuse their politics,
On you our hopes we fix,
God save the Queen!

Not in this land alone,
But be God’s mercies known,
From shore to shore!
Lord make the nations see,
That men should brothers be,
And form one family,
The wide world ov’er

From every latent foe,
From the assasins blow,
God save the Queen!
O’er her thine arm extend,
For Britain’s sake defend,
Our mother, prince, and friend,
God save the Queen!

Thy choicest gifts in store,
On her be pleased to pour,
Long may she reign!
May she defend our laws,
And ever give us cause,
To sing with heart and voice,
God save the Queen!

The second song chosen is “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot”.

The song “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” was written by a Choctaw freedman named Wallis Willis sometime in 1840. He was known to many people during that time as ’Uncle Wallace.’ His main inspiration when he wrote that song was his home close to Oklahoma City. Another inspiration was the Red River in Mississippi, which is at times referred to as the Red River of the South. This significant body of water greatly reminded him of the Prophet Elijah, which was closely associated with the Jordan River.

Numerous non-scholarly sources believe that the songs composed by Willis, namely the “Steal Away” and “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot,” both contained hidden lyrics that pertain to the 19th century escape route for slaves called the Underground Railroad. While Willis was singing the song, he was heard by a Choctaw boarding school minister named Alexander Reid. According to Reid, Willis transcribed the melodies and words. After that, he then sent the song to the African American a cappella ensemble called the Fisk Jubilee Singers, a group that was based at Fisk University within the City of Nashville in Tennessee. With this, the song became highly popular, thanks mainly to the group’s tour in Europe and the United States.

During the 1960s, the popularity of “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” resurged once again, thanks mainly to the folk revival as well as the Civil Rights struggle during that time. Many recording artists performed their very own versions, the most popular of which during that time was U.S. activist and folk singer Joan Baez. She performed the song during the historic Woodstock festival in 1969.

Because of the wonderful and meaningful lyrics of “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot,” the England rugby union fans decided to adopt it for the final match of the 1988 season.

Is it a racist song?

There have been many theories as to why it was adopted by English fans. Many people would consider it to be a racist song due to the belief that it was about death and slavery. It is not known why exactly it is sung. I will have to leave that one up for you to decide! To help you out, here is a decent article on why England sing it: http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-leicestershire-31147766

Swing low, sweet chariot,
Comin’ for to carry me home,
Swing low, sweet chariot,
Comin’ for to carry me home.

I looked over Jordan, and,
What did I see,
Comin’ for to carry me home?
A band of angels comin’ after me,
Comin’ for to carry me home.

Swing low, sweet chariot,
Comin’ for to carry me home,
etc..

If you get there before I do,
Comin’ for to carry me home,
Tell all my friends I’m comin’ too,
Comin’ for to carry me home

Swing low, sweet chariot,
Comin’ for to carry me home,
etc..

Sometimes I’m up,
Sometimes I’m down,
Comin’ for to carry me home,
Yet still my soul feels heavn’ly bound,
Comin’ for to carry me home.

4. Wales

wales rugby

Calon Lan is still pursuing a recent obsession with Welsh music, this American-of-Irish-extraction thought he would reflect a little on the beautiful song “Calon Lân” (generally translated to English as “A Pure Heart”). It’s a song that seems to be deeply embedded in the Welsh culture, to such an extent that you could easily believe it were a much older song than it is. It was first published in 1899, which isn’t yesterday, but is certainly modern times, only fifteen years before WWI.

The lyric was written by the Welsh poet Daniel James, also known by his Welsh poetic nickname, “Gwyrosydd.” It’s reported that he wrote the words as a prayer and then later asked the Welsh tunesmith John Hughes (known also for the great melody “Cwm Rhondda”) to put it to music, which he did, promptly creating a hymn of some sublime beauty and power. Its first appearance was in a Sunday School periodical, and it became widely beloved during what is known as “The Welsh Revival” of 1904-1905, a revival of Christianity which is credited with spurring similar awakenings far beyond the borders of Wales.

Nid wy’n gofyn bywyd moethus,
Aur y byd na’i berlau mân:
Gofyn wyf am galon hapus,
Calon onest, calon lân.

Cytgan:
Calon lân yn llawn daioni,
Tecach yw na’r lili dlos:
Dim ond calon lân all ganu-
Canu’r dydd a chanu’r nos.

Pe dymunwn olud bydol,
Hedyn buan ganddo sydd;
Golud calon lân, rinweddol,
Yn dwyn bythol elw fydd.

Hwyr a bore fy nymuniad
Gwyd i’r nef ar edyn cân
Ar i Dduw, er mwyn fy Ngheidwad,
Roddi i mi galon lân.

English Version – A Pure Heart

I don’t ask for a luxurious life,
the world’s gold or its fine pearls:
I ask for a happy heart,
an honest heart, a pure heart.

Chorus:
A pure heart is full of goodness,
More lovely than the pretty lily:
Only a pure heart can sing –
Sing day and night.

If I wished worldly wealth,
He has a swift seed;
The riches of a virtuous, pure heart,
Will be a perpetual profit.

Late and early, my wish
Rise to heavan on the wing of song,
To God, for the sake of my Saviour,
Give me a pure heart.

Sosban Fach

Another Welsh song used is Sosban Fach. The song catalogues the troubles of a harassed housewife. The song is associated with the rugby union club Llanelli RFC and, more recently, the Scarlets regional rugby side. The association derives from Llanelli’s tin plating industry, which used to tin-plate steel saucepans and other kitchen utensils as a cheap supply to the British public. During the final years of Stradey Park, the former ground of Llanelli RFC and the Scarlets, the goalposts were adorned with Scarlet saucepans as a tribute to the town’s history; the utensils have been transferred to the clubs’ new ground, Parc y Scarlets.

Mae bys Meri-Ann wedi brifo,
A Dafydd y gwas ddim yn iach.
Mae’r baban yn y crid yn crio,
A’r gath wedi scrappo Sioni bach.

Sosban fach yn berwi ar y tân,
Sosban fawr yn berwi ar y llawr,
A’r gath wedi scrappo Sioni bach

Dai bach y soldiwr, Dai bach y soldiwr,
Dai bach y soldiwr, a gwt ei grys e mas

Mae bys Mari Ann wedi gwella,
A Dafydd y gwas yn ei fedd;
Mae’r baban yn y crud wedi tyfu,
A’r gath wedi huno mewn hedd.

Sospan fach yn berwi ar y tân
Sosban fawr yn berwi ar y llawr
A’r gath wedi huno mewn hedd

English translation:

Mari-Ann’s finger is cut,
And David the manservant isn’t well.
The baby in the crib is crying,
And the cat has scratched little Johnny.

The little saucepan is boiling on the fire,
The big saucepan is boiling on the floor,
And the cat has scratched little Johnny.

Little Dai the soldier, little Dai the soldier,
Little Dai the soldier, his short shirt hanging out.

Mari-Ann’s finger is better,
And David the manservant is in his grave.
The baby in the cot has grown up,
And the cat has gone to a peaceful death.

The little saucepan is boiling on the fire,
The big saucepan is boiling on the floor,
And the cat has gone to a peaceful death.

Keep an eye out for a famous rugby man in this video!

5. Ireland

ireland rugby

Ireland is a country steeped in tradition. When it comes to rugby, expect certain tunes to be blasted out throughout the stadium. Irish songs are very much based around it’s rebel history and attending any major sporting event it is these songs you are most likely to hear, whether that be  rugby, soccer or it’s own Gaelic Games (Football & Hurling).

The first song is the Irish National Anthem called “Amhrán na Bhfiann” or “A Soldier’s Song”. It was written in 1907 by Peadar Kearney, an uncle of the writer Brendan Behan. It was first published in the newspaper, Irish Freedom in 1912, but was not widely known until it was sung at the GPO during the Easter Rising of 1916.

The chorus was formally adopted as the National Anthem in 1926 and it is only this which is played at all events. Here it is in its entirety with the chorus highlighted.

Seo dhibh a cháirde duan Óglaigh,
Cathréimeach briomhar ceolmhar,
Ár dtinte cnámh go buacach táid,
‘S an spéir go min réaltogach
Is fonnmhar faobhrach sinn chun gleo
‘S go tiúnmhar glé roimh thíocht do’n ló
Fé chiúnas chaomh na hoiche ar seol:
Seo libh canaídh Amhrán na bhFiann

Curfá
Sinne Firnna Fáil
A tá fé gheall ag Éirinn,
buion dár slua
Thar toinn do ráinig chugainn,
Fé mhóid bheith saor.
Sean tír ár sinsir feasta
Ní fhagfar fé’n tiorán ná fé’n tráil
Anocht a théam sa bhearna bhaoil,
Le gean ar Ghaeil chun báis nó saoil
Le guna screach fé lámhach na bpiléar
Seo libh canaídh Amhrán na bhFiann.

Cois bánta réidhe, ar árdaibh sléibhe,
Ba bhuachach ár sinsir romhainn,
Ag lámhach go tréan fé’n sár-bhrat séin
Tá thuas sa ghaoith go seolta
Ba dhúchas riamh d’ár gcine cháidh
Gan iompáil siar ó imirt áir,
‘S ag siúl mar iad i gcoinne námhad
Seo libh, canaídh Amhrán na bhFiann

Curfá

A bhuíon nách fann d’fhuil Ghaeil is Gall,
Sin breacadh lae na saoirse,
Ta scéimhle ‘s scanradh i gcroíthe namhad,
Roimh ranna laochra ár dtire.
Ár dtinte is tréith gan spréach anois,
Sin luisne ghlé san spéir anoir,
‘S an bíobha i raon na bpiléar agaibh:
Seo libh, canaídh Amhrán na bh Fiann.

Curfá

Here is the English translation

We’ll sing a song, a soldier’s song,
With cheering rousing chorus,
As round our blazing fires we throng,
The starry heavens o’er us;
Impatient for the coming fight,
And as we wait the morning’s light,
Here in the silence of the night,
We’ll chant a soldier’s song.

Chorus
Soldiers are we
whose lives are pledged to Ireland;
Some have come
from a land beyond the wave.
Sworn to be free,
No more our ancient sire land
Shall shelter the despot or the slave.
Tonight we man the gap of danger
In Erin’s cause, come woe or weal
‘Mid cannons’ roar and rifles peal,
We’ll chant a soldier’s song.

In valley green, on towering crag,
Our fathers fought before us,
And conquered ‘neath the same old flag
That’s proudly floating o’er us.
We’re children of a fighting race,
That never yet has known disgrace,
And as we march, the foe to face,
We’ll chant a soldier’s song.

Chorus

Sons of the Gael! Men of the Pale!
The long watched day is breaking;
The serried ranks of Inisfail
Shall set the Tyrant quaking.
Our camp fires now are burning low;
See in the east a silv’ry glow,
Out yonder waits the Saxon foe,
So chant a soldier’s song.

Chorus

A problem with the Anthem?

The anthem has received some criticism of late due to it being a Nationalist song. In case you were not aware, the island of Ireland has two countries; Northern Ireland which is a six county region in the North East of the country and a twenty six county region known as the Republic of Ireland. In rugby, both regions form one country where as in soccer, both regions have their own teams. The national anthem of Ireland was therefore not seen as representing all members of it’s rugby team.

For a really great read on the future of the anthem check this out: http://www.historyireland.com/20th-century-contemporary-history/the-story-of-the-national-anthem/

Ireland’s Call

This anthem written by Phil Coulter was commissioned by the IRFU to be played at International rugby games. As I mentioned above, the reason for this was because of Ireland’s Northern presence on their team and “A Soldier’s Song” was not felt to be appropriate anymore. However, both anthems are played at Irish home games while only Ireland’s Call is played during away games. This is perhaps the agreement reached by all parties involved in Irish rugby. Here are the lyrics

Come the day and come the hour
Come the power and the glory
We have come to answer
Our Country’s call
From the four proud provinces of Ireland

Ireland, Ireland
Together standing tall
Shoulder to shoulder
We’ll answer Ireland’s call

From the mighty Glens of Antrim
From the rugged hills of Galway
From the walls of Limerick
And Dublin Bay
From the four proud provinces of Ireland

Ireland, Ireland
Together standing tall
Shoulder to shoulder
We’ll answer Ireland’s call

Hearts of steel
And heads unbowing
Vowing never to be broken
We will fight, until
We can fight no more
From the four proud provinces of Ireland

Ireland, Ireland
Together standing tall
Shoulder to shoulder
We’ll answer Ireland’s call

This video does both songs justice…when you see Hayes and Flannery cry it’s hard not to wince a little!

For those of you unfamiliar with one of the greatest rugby games Ireland has ever played, here is a great recap on that famous day against the old enemy in Croke Park Dublin, home of the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA)

Field’s of Athenry

The Fields of Athenry tells the story of a young man called Michael who is caught stealing corn to feed his family at the height of the Great Famine. His punishment is to be transported to Botany Bay in Australia where he will have to serve several years doing hard labour.

Meanwhile, his wife has to remain in famine torn Ireland and raise their child on her own. His plea to her is that she not only raises their child but that she does so with “dignity” – clearly a difficult task when people were scratching the ground for scraps to eat.

As the ship sails out taking Michael to face his punishment, his wife remains waiting, hoping and praying for his return.

The chorus refers to young couple’s love in the pre-Famine days when they had dreams and songs to sing, and time to watch birds fly across the fields of Athenry.

Trevelyan – failed to deal with the Famine

Charles Edward Trevelyan

The song is set against the famine and references people and events from that time. Michael is caught stealing Trevelyan’s corn.

Trevelyan was a leading official in the British Treasury and was put in charge of famine relief. Given that he believed the famine was God’s way of removing surplus population he was not a very suitable choice.

The reference to Trevelyan’s corn can be interpreted in two ways.

It was a source of great bitterness to the starving people that the British Government allowed shiploads of Irish corn to sail out of Ireland at the height of the Famine so that absentee landlords could continue trading and making profits.

Trevelyan encouraged this approach and so the corn being exported could generally be referred to as Trevelyan’s corn. It may also refer to a more specific event. Trevelyan eventually arranged for some Indian corn to be imported into Ireland to help the starving. It was something of a token gesture and turned out to be of no use at all because the corn was too hard to be ground down and eaten.

The Irish didn’t realise this at first and some attempted to break into warehouses to steal the corn. Those who were caught faced transportation to Australia, as happens to Michael in the song.

Here are the lyrics and some videos:

By a lonely prison wall
I heard a young girl calling
Micheal they are taking you away
For you stole Trevelyn’s corn
So the young might see the morn.
Now a prison ship lies waiting in the bay.

Low lie the Fields of Athenry
Where once we watched the small free birds fly.
Our love was on the wing we had dreams and songs to sing
It’s so lonely ’round the Fields of Athenry.

By a lonely prison wall
I heard a young man calling
Nothing matters Mary when you’re free,
Against the Famine and the Crown
I rebelled they ran me down
Now you must raise our child with dignity.

Low lie the Fields of Athenry
Where once we watched the small free birds fly.
Our love was on the wing we had dreams and songs to sing
It’s so lonely ’round the Fields of Athenry.

By a lonely harbor wall
She watched the last star falling
As that prison ship sailed out against the sky
Sure she’ll wait and hope and pray
For her love in Botany Bay
It’s so lonely ’round the Fields of Athenry.

Low lie the Fields of Athenry
Where once we watched the small free birds fly.
Our love was on the wing we had dreams and songs to sing
It’s so lonely ’round the Fields of Athenry.

6. Scotland

scotland rugby

Scotland lacks an official, legislated “national song”; in fact there are several songs in use as “national songs” of Scotland. The one most often considered as the unofficial national anthem (and most often presented as Scotland’s anthem at sporting matches) is “Flower of Scotland”, written by Roy Williamson in 1965 for the popular folk group The Corries. It was first used in a sporting match in 1974 by the Scottish national rugby team. When the British “God Save the Queen” was sung before a rugby match in 1988 to represent Scotland, and was met by derision from the crowd, “Flower of Scotland” was adopted as Scotland’s pregame anthem. Atlethics still used “Scotland the Brave” as their anthem but this seems to have changed since the last Commonwealth Games where Flower of Scotland was used. “Flower of Scotland”, however, has not been adopted in any official basis as the Scottish anthem. Regardless of this, this is one MASSIVE ANTHEM! The song refers to the victory of the Scots, led by Robert the Bruce, over the English, under Edward II, at Bannockburn in 1314.

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,
That stood against him,
Proud Edward’s Army,
And sent him homeward,
Tae think again.

Those days are past 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.

0 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.

Loch Lomond

Loch Lomond is a famous location in Scotland for many reasons but one of them is definitely to do with a song – a poignant anthem of loss and sadness that is known throughout the world. This song seems to have meaning for people who have never been to Loch Lomond, but find the sentiment or the melody inspires them to visit! But what is the real meaning and origin of this song, so popular on the world stage?

Some call it ‘The Bonnie Banks of Loch Lomond, some just ‘The Banks of Loch Lomond , while simply ‘Loch Lomond’ is also usual. And if the title is varies, so do the explanations of the origins of the song.

John Purser in his monumental work, ‘Scotland’s Music’ (1992), says the event it commemorates is the Jacobite army’s return from their most southerly point, Derby, in England, to Carlisle, still south of the border, in1745. He claims the tune is a variant of an earlier one: ‘The Bonnie Hoose o’ Airlie’ – and this is based on the opinion of Bertrand Bronson in the ‘The Traditional Tunes of the Child Ballads III’ (1966). Nevertheless, others, notably Johnson in his ‘Music and Society in Lowland Scotland in the Eighteen Century’ (1972), makes a link between the tune and the equally venerable ‘The Lowlands of Holland’ – so that all we can be absolutely certain is that the melody has direct links into the traditional balladry of Scotland.

Returning to what the song is actually about; Purser suggests the lyrics are younger than the tune. In fact, the song first appears in ‘Vocal Melodies of Scotland’ published in 1841. No source seems to have definite proof of an individual composer of the lyrics, instead usually attributing them to a Jacobite prisoner, languishing in Carlisle prison, awaiting his fate. Instead of the Jacobite army moving through Carlisle right at the end of 1745, other explanations suggest the prisoner was taken to Carlisle in 1746, after the Jacobite defeat at Culloden.

If so, the words with variations must have been sung for almost a century before being collected for the 1841 publication. Whatever the detail, the high road and low road allusions are usually said to be the ‘high road’ as in the main road, as opposed to the ‘low road’ of death, where the spirit of the soldier returns immediately to his homeland.  In short, the lack of a definitive connection with the song-writer allow a variety of interpretations.

Like ‘Auld Lang Syne’,  the melody is iconic – just the first few bars are enough to evoke an image of Scotland, so well known is the tune!

The more serious students of Scottish music claim that the song itself is, more often than not, musically misinterpreted. The subject matter of the verses is tragic, dealing with loss and yearning. Yet plenty of versions exist where the tempo is definitely upbeat and positively jolly! (Purser – see above – describes this as ‘inane chirpiness’!) Certainly, such is the song’s popularity that it has been interrpreted by a wide variety of musical genres – including punk and heavy metal!

Here are the lyrics:

By yon bonnie banks and by yon bonnie braes,
Where the sun shines bright on Loch Lomond
Where me and my true love were ever wont to gae,
On the bonnie bonnie banks of Loch Lomond.

Oh! Ye’ll take the high road, and I’ll take the low road,
And I’ll be in Scotland afore ye,
But me and my true love will never meet again,
On the bonnie, bonnie banks of Loch Lomond.

‘Twas then that we parted, In yon shady glen,
On the steep, steep side of Ben Lomond,
Where, in purple hue, The highland hills we view,
And the moon coming out in the gloaming.

The wee birdies sing, And the wild flowers spring,
And in sunshine the waters sleeping.
But the broken heart it kens, Nae second spring again,
Though the waeful may cease frae their greeting.

So there you go, some of the great rugby songs that you should keep an eye out for in the 2015 Rugby World Cup. Nothing left to say other than “Come on Ireland” and “For more on history, keep it here!”

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