Back to menu                         Score                         Next tune

Scots Wha Hae ("Scots, Who Have"; Scottish Gaelic: Brosnachadh Bhruis) is a patriotic song of Scotland which served for a long time as an unofficial national anthem of the country, but has lately been largely supplanted by Scotland the Brave and Flower of Scotland.

The lyrics were written by Robert Burns in 1793, in the form of a speech given by Robert the Bruce before the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314, where Scotland maintained its sovereignty from the Kingdom of England. Although the lyrics are by Burns, he wrote them to the traditional Scottish tune Hey Tuttie Tatie (this title is supposed to imitate a trumpet) which, according to tradition, was played by Bruce’s army at the Battle of Bannockburn.
The tune was brought to France by Scottish archers and was heard when Joan of Arc entered Orleans and also Rheims for the coronation of the French king whose bodyguard was Scottish.


The song was sent by Burns to his publisher, at the end of August 1793, with the title Robert Bruce’s March To Bannockburn, and a postscript saying that he had been inspired by Bruce’s “glorious struggle for Freedom, associated with the glowing ideas of some other struggles of the same nature, not quite so ancient.” This is seen as a covert reference to the Radical movement, and particularly to the trial of the Glasgow lawyer Thomas Muir of Huntershill, whose trial began on 30 August 1793 as part of a British government crackdown, after the French Revolutionary Wars led to France declaring war on the Kingdom of Great Britain on 1 February 1793.
Muir was accused of sedition for allegedly inciting the Scottish people to oppose the government during the December 1792 convention of the Scottish "Friends of the People" society, and was eventually sentenced to fourteen years transportation to the convict settlement at Botany Bay, Australia.
Burns was aware that if he declared his Republican and Radical sympathies openly he could suffer the same fate. It is notable that when Burns agreed to let the Morning Chronicle, of 8 May 1794, publish the song, it was on the basis of "let them insert it as a thing they have met with by accident, and unknown to me."

The song was included in the 1799 edition of A Select Collection of Original Scottish Airs for the Voice, edited by George Thomson, but Thomson preferred the tune "Lewie Gordon" and had Burns add to the fourth line of each stanza, to suit. In the 1802 edition, the original words and tune were restored.


’Scots, wha hae wi’ Wallace bled,
Scots, wham Bruce has aften led,
Welcome tae your gory bed
Or tae victory!

’Now is the day, and now is the hour:
See the front of battle lour,
See approach proud Edward’s power
Chains and slavery!

’Wha will be a traitor knave?
Wha will fill a coward’s grave?
Wha sae base as be a slave?
Let him turn, and flee!

’Wha for Scotland’s King and Law
Freedom’s sword will strongly draw,
Freeman stand or freeman fa’,
Let him on wi’ me!

’By oppression’s woes and pains,
By your sons in servile chains,
We will drain our dearest veins
But they shall be free!

’Lay the proud usurpers low!
Tyrants fall in every foe!
Liberty is in every blow!
Let us do or dee!


  Ecossais en qui coule le sang de Wallace
  Ecossais que Bruce a si souvent menés
  Accepte de mourir
  ou de vaincre !

  Le jour et l’heure sont maintenant venus
  Vois ici bas la ligne de front
  et regarde les troupes du fier Edouard
  venues t’asservir !

  A celui, assez coquin pour trahir
  A celui trop couard pour faire face
  A celui qui veut demeurer esclave
  Je dis : tourne le dos et fuis !

  A celui qui soutient la cause du roi d’Ecosse
  et brandit fermement l’épée de la liberté
  A cet homme libre qui survit ou meurt,
  Je dis : rallie toi à moi !

  Face à l’oppression et la douleur;
  Face à nos fils entravés,
  que le sang pur qui coule dans nos veines
  Nous affranchisse !

  Renverse l’usurpateur !
  A chaque ennemi défait, un tyran disparait !
  Notre liberté s’acquiert à chaque fait d’arme !
  Laissez-nous vaincre ou mourir !


Joan of Arc

Scots Wha Hae Karaoke

- This page has been accessed 14618 times -

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