Back to menu                         Score                         Next tune

"Scotland the Brave" is a patriotic song and one of the main contenders to be considered as a national anthem of Scotland. In June 2006 the Royal Scottish National Orchestra conducted an online poll on their website, asking visitors to choose a favourite to be Scotland’s national anthem. With over 10,000 votes cast, "Flower of Scotland" came first with 41% of the votes, followed by "Scotland the Brave" with 29% - "Highland Cathedral" 16% - "A Man's A Man for A' That" 7% - "Scots Wha Hae" 6%.

It is of surprisingly recent origin, as it was published first around 1911 in a Boys’ Brigade pipe tune book. But the tune appears to date from about 1891-5 when it was published in Norman Macdonald’s Gesto Collection of Highland Music under the title "Scotland for Ever” although the sentiment dates back to at least the 1820s. It was probably originally a flute solo.
It is always listed as “Traditional”. In other words no one knows for certain who actually composed the tune.

The lyrics to Scotland The Brave were written by Scottish journalist, writer, author, songwriter, raconteur, after dinner speaker, historian and broadcaster Cliff Hanley (1923-1999) in 1951 for performer, producer and music shop owner Robert Wilson who needed a song to close the act of his performance at a Christmas Scottish review musical show at the Glasgow Empire Theatre. Robert Wilson, who was at the time at the peak of his career, paid £25 to Hanley but refused to get the copyright. "Naw, naw son, this is far too good. I’d be cheating you if I took the rights to this" said Wilson. The song soon became popular with Scots people and was quickly adopted as an unofficial national anthem.   

The lyrics make no mention of wars against the English and read more as a reflection of Scots brave exploits coupled with a yearning for home. As such they more accurately reflect the emotional reflections of a Scottish soldier serving in the British army far from his highland home although it is not in any way melancholic in its tone.

By the late 19th century the sound of the pipes was universally recognized as a precursor to the arrival of Scottish regiments whose military prowess was well known throughout the world. As well as instilling fear in the enemies of the British Empire it would raise the moral of those they were coming to relieve. Its entire tone is militaristic, stirring, and resonant of the Victorian's pride in their Empire and Army among whom the Scottish regiments were portrayed and perceived as the most combative and militarily elite. The warrior traditions of the Scots run deep and the song is felt by Scots to be a celebration of their bravery as a race, individually as well as nationally.


The version below is from The Chieftains.

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.


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.



  Ecoute lorsque la nuit tombe
  Entends, entends l’appel
  puissant et fier des cornemuses
  Ici bas à travers la vallée.
  Là où les collines dormaient
  regarde maintenant le sang ne faire qu’un tour
  Et l’esprit
  du vieux montagnard ressurgir.

  Imposantes, élégantes et glorieuses
  sont les montagnes d’Ecosse où je vis
  Nos fiers étendards
  y flottent glorieusement
  Terre de mon labeur,
  Terre aux rivières ensoleillées
  Terre de mon coeur à tout jamais
  La vaillante (courageuse) Ecosse.

  Haut dans la brume des Highlands
  Par delà les îles pourpres
  courageux sont nos coeurs qui battent
  Sous le ciel écossais.
  Sauvages sont les vents qui soufflent vers vous
  Loyaux sont les amis qui vous acceuillent
  Tendres, comme l’amour qui brille
  dans les yeux des jeunes filles.


  Loin des endroits ensoleillés
  Tristes sont les visages écossais,
  Désireux de sentir le baiser
  De la douce pluie écossaise.
  Lorsque s’épanoui le ciel des tropiques,
  L’amour fait rêver les coeurs,
  Nostalgiques du pays d’autrefois.


There is another set of lyrics known as "My Bonnie Lassie" sung by The Ames Brothers.

Drums in my heart are drummin,
I hear the bagpipes hummin,
My Bonnie Lassie’s comin over the sea.
My heart with her she’s bringin,
I hear the blue bells ringin,
Soon we’ll be highland flingin,
My love and me.

I’ll meet her at the shore,
Playin the pipes for her,
Dressed in a kilt
and a tam o’shanter too.
Drums in my heart are drummin,
I hear the bagpipes hummin,
My Bonnie Lassie’s comin,
Comin to me.

Somewhere a ship and crew,
Sails o’er the ocean blue,
Bringing, oh, bringing,
My bonnie back to me.
That’s why the drums are drummin,
That’s why the pipes are hummin,
My Bonnie Lassie’s comin,
Comin to me.


Sad are the lads she’s leavin,
Many a sigh they’re heavin,
Even the heather’s grievin,
cryin with dew.
She’s left her native highland,
To come and live in my land,
She’ll love the folks who smile,
And say, "how-we-do".



  Dans mon coeur les tambours battent,
  et j’entends les cornemuses rugir,
  Ma jolie bien-aimée arrive de par dela la mer.
  Elle apporte mon coeur avec elle,
  J’entends les clochettes des campanules carilloner,
  Bientôt nous convolerons dans les Highlands,
  Ma bien-aimée et moi.

  Je la retrouverai sur le rivage,
  je jouerai de la cornemuse pour elle,
  vêtu d’un kilt
  et d’un bonnet.
  Dans mon coeur les tambours battent,
  et j’entends les cornemuses rugir,
  Ma bien-aimée arrive,
  Elle vient vers moi.

  Quelque part un navire et un équipage,
  voguent sur l’océan bleu,
  ramenant, oh, ramenant à moi,
  Ma bien-aimée.
  C’est pourquoi les tambours battent,
  C’est pourquoi les cornemuses rugissent,
  Ma bien-aimée arrive,
  Elle vient vers moi.


  Tristes sont les jeunes hommes qu’elle quitte,
  Beaucoup soupirent,
  même la bruyère, mélancolique,
  verse des larmes de rosée.
  Elle quitte ses Hautes-terres natales,
  Pour venir vivre sur ma terre.
  Elle aimera les miens qui sourient,
  et dira : "ainsi sommes-nous aussi".



Karaoke photos

700 pipers & drummers in Calgary
My Bonnie Lassie

- This page has been accessed 33168 times -

Copyright © 2009-2021 Stéphane BÉGUINOT, All Rights Reserved.