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Freedom Come All Ye & Battle of the Somme

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Freedom Come-All-Ye is a song written by Hamish Henderson (1919-2002) in 1960 for the Peace March in Holy Loch, near Glasgow, it is a song against the war, a cry for freedom against slavery and against the oppression of the working class and ethnic minorities, in the name of social justice. The song is in scots, while the melody is a retreat march for bagpipes from the First World War, arranged by John MacLellan (1875-1949) who titled it “The Bloody Fields of Flanders”; Henderson first heard played on the Anzio beachhead in 1944 (Second World War).The melody however is an old Perthshire aria already known with the title of “Busk Bush Bonnie Lassie

Dick Gaughan

Lorraine McIntosh live –
Luke Kelly


Roch the wind in the clear day’s dawin
Blaws the cloods heilster-gowdie owre the bay
But there’s mair nor a roch wind blawin (1)
Thro the Great Glen o the warld the day
It’s a thocht that wad gar oor rottans
Aa thae rogues that gang gallus fresh an gay
Tak the road an seek ither loanins
Wi thair ill-ploys tae sport an play
Nae mair will our bonnie callants
Merch tae war when oor braggarts crousely craw (2)
Nor wee weans frae pitheid an clachan
Mourn the ships sailin doun the Broomielaw (3)
Broken faimlies in lands we’ve hairriet
Will curse ‘Scotlan the Brave’ nae mair, nae mair
Black an white ane-til-ither mairriet
Mak the vile barracks o thair maisters (4) bare
Sae come aa ye at hame wi freedom
Never heed whit the houdies croak for Doom (5)
In yer hoos aa the bairns o Adam
Will find breid, barley-bree an paintit rooms
When Maclean (6) meets wi’s friens in Springburn (7)
Aa thae roses an geans will turn tae blume (8)
An the black lad frae yont Nyanga (9)
Dings the fell gallows o the burghers doun.
English translation*
It’s a rough wind in the clear day’s dawning
Blows the clouds head-over-heels across the bay
But there’s more than a rough wind blowing
Through the Great Glen of the world today
It’s a thought that would make our rodents,
All those rogues who strut and swagger,
Take the road and seek other pastures
To carry out their wicked schemes
No more will our fine young men
March to war at the behest of jingoists and imperialists
Nor will young children from mining communities and rural hamlets
Mourn the ships sailing off down the River Clyde
Broken families in lands we’ve helped to oppress
Will never again have reason to curse the sound of advancing Scots
Black and white, united in friendship and marriage,
Will make the slums of the employers bare
So come all ye who love freedom
Pay no attention to the prophets of doom
In your house all the children of Adam
Will be welcomed with food, drink and clean bright accommodation
When MacLean returns to his people
All the roses and cherry trees will blossom
And the black guy from Nyanga
Will break the capitalist stranglehold on everyone’s life

* from here
1) a wind of change is a metaphor dear to the political world, it is the wind of people protest, who claim their right to live a full and dignified life
2) are those who rant and foment the war to push the sons of the people forward
3) Glasgow’s main thoroughfare adjacent to the river Clyde: it is the pier from which many ships loaded with emigrants have left
4) the reference is to apartheid in South Africa when the blacks were deported to the “homeland of the south” and deprived of all political and civil rights.
5) In those years peace meant to protest against the atomic arms race and the fear of a nuclear conflict: the sign of peace that today belongs to the symbols shared on a global level was created in 1958 by the Englishman Gerald Holtom for the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, CND: as he himself declared, the three lines are the superposition of the letters N and D – which stand for Nuclear Disarmament – taken from the semaphore alphabet. The circle, on the other hand, symbolizes the Earth.

6) John Maclean (1879 -1923), Scottish socialist, known for his fierce opposition to the First World War. For this reason, in 1918 he was tried for sedition and imprisoned. There was a popular mobilization in his favor and a few months later he was released. In 1918 he ended up again in prison for obstruction to recruitment and sedition and he was released after 7 months; the months in jail have harmed the health of Maclean who will die at age 45; his communism evolved against the Scottish Labor parties to advocate Scotland’s independence and the return to the old social clan structure but on a communist basis
7) district of the working class of Glasgow. The south of Scotland heavily idustrialized from the second half of the 1800 transform Glasgow and the Clyde into a bulwark of radical socialists and communists so much to get the nickname “Red Clyde”
8) spring is the season of rebirth
-) Nyanga is a city in Cape Town, South Africa. The residents of Nyanga have been very active in protesting the laws of apartheid

The Battle of the Somme

Another bagpipe melody from World War I was composed by piper William Laurie (1881-1916) to commemorate one of the deadliest battles, the Battle of the Somme which began July 1916 with heavy losses from day one; in the end it will result 620.000 losses among the Allies and about 450.000 among the German rows: the melody is in 9/8 and it is considered a retreat march, not necessarily as a specific military maneuver. Laurie (or Lawrie) participated in the battle with the 8th Battalion Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders (Lawrie and John MacLellan served in the same band during the war), but severely tried by the wounds and life in the trench fell seriously ill and he was repatriated England where he died in November of the same year.

The Dubliners often with “Freedom Come-All-Ye”

The Malinky with Jimmy Waddel (at 3:39)

It was Dave Swarbrick who brought the piece to the Fireport Convention group after learning it from his friend and teacher Beryl Marriott

Albion Country Band


A Scottish dance entitled The Scottish Lilt was composed shortly after 1746 to be practiced by ladies of good family who wished to court or entertain the gentlemen seducing them with their grace. It’s a Scottish National Dances traditionally matched with the melody The Battle of the Somme: the dance moves are inspired by the classical ballet

the steps in detail


Pubblicato da Cattia Salto

Amministratore e folklorista di Terre Celtiche Blog

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