Sangstories
Stories of Scottish Songs

Tales of Scottish traditional
and newer songs 
sung by Sangschule 
of Linlithgow

An Auld Man Cam Courtin Me

An auld man cam courtin me
Hey-do-a-darrity
An auld man cam courtin me
Hey-do-a-day
An auld man cam courtin me
Fain wad he mairry me
Maids when you’re young
Never wad an auld man

When we went tae our tea
He started teasin me

When we went tae the kirk
I kent it wadna work

When we went tae oor bed
He lay as he were dead

Then he lay doon tae sleep
Thinkin that I wad weep
Ah he was wrang
I went tae my young man

And faur I lay ower the night
In raptures and delight
Wrapped in the airms
O my bonnie young man

Gordeanna McCulloch brought this song to Sangschule. There are several Scottish songs on this theme, some more specific about the sexual problem involved than this one, which was better suited to the occasional youngster attending the group at the time.

Seeger and MacColl include a version in The Singing Island (song 31, note P16) called “Maids, When You’re Young, Never Wed An Old Man”. The ill-matched couple there go to church, to bed and to sleep and the young bride also creeps out “Into the arms of a jolly young man.” The chorus laments that old men have
got no fal-looral, fal liddle fal-looral /They’ve got no fal-looral, fal liddle all day”
but the final chorus once the bride has skipped off to her young man is triumphant:
And I found his fal-looral, fal liddle fal-looral / I found his  fal-looral, fal liddle all day /  I found his fal-loorum and he got my ding dorum,/ So, maids, when you’re young, never wed an old man./

MacColl notes that the “miseries of marrying an old man have frequently provided a theme for Scots songs as instanced by ‘What Can A Lassie Do Wi An Auld Man?’, ‘Auld Rob Morris’, ‘Auld Robin Gray’ and ‘Carle Cam’ O’er The Craft’. They are not quite so common in the English tradition.” MacColl and Seeger in Till Doomsday In The Afternoon record another version which has a lot in common with Gordeanna’s, as sung by traveller Belle Stewart and “learned from Big Willie White.” The first verse and refrain are the same as ours as is the pattern of the story, but the fourth line usually changes to “Me being young” and the words become more specific:
2. For when we went to the church / Hi doo a darrity / When we went to the church / Me being young / When we went to the church / I left him in the lurch (Refrain: Maids when etc.)
3. And when we went to our tea / He started teasing me / When we went to our tea / Me being young / When we went to our tea / He started squeezing me / Refrain)
4. And when we went to our bed / He lay as he were dead / When we went to our bed / Me being young / When we went to our bed / He lay as he were dead / (Refrain)
5. For he had no tooral, /No right fal the dooral, O / He had no tooral / No, Devil the one! / He had no tooral to fill my falooral, / So (Refrain)
6. But when he fell asleep / Out of bed I did creep / When he fell fast asleep / Me being young / When he fell fast asleep / Out of bed I did creep / Into the arms of a handsome young man.
7. For he had a tooral, aye, / Right fal de dooral, O / He had a tooral,/ A hellava one! / He had a tooral that filled my falooral, /So Refrain)
8. And there we played pitch-and-toss, / High doo a darrity / There we played pitch-and-toss, /All the night long / There we played pitch-and-toss, / My maidenheid I lost / 
Maids, when you’re young, never wed an auld man

David Herd’s 18th century collection of Ancient And Modern Scottish Songs Vol 2, p 349 contains what must be an early ancestor of these songs, which are found also in Ireland and America, in “Scant of Love, Want of Love”:
The auld man he courted me / Scant of love, want of love / The auld man he courted me / Thoughtless as I am / And I, for the sake of pelf (material goods)/ Yielded to give myself / To the cauld arms of / The silly auld man

The auld man did marry me / Scant of love, want of love/ The auld man did marry me / Wanton as I am /The auld man did marry me /And home did carry me/ Never, never, while you live, / Wed an auld man

The auld man and I went to bed /Scant of love, want of love / The auld man and I went to bed / Handsome as I am / The auld man and I went to bed / But he neither did or said / What brides expect, when laid / By a gudeman

The auld man soon fell asleep / Scant of love, want of love / The auld man soon fell asleep / Left me as I am / The auld man soon fell asleep/ Think you that I would weep?/ Na, but I straight did creep / To a young man

Where I lay all the night, / No scant, no want of love, / Where I lay all the night / Who so happy then?/ Where I lay all the night / In raptures and delight / So should all young wives treat / Fumbling auld men

Here again is Gordeanna’s line “In raptures and delight” and the echo of her “Thinkin that I would weep” – in this song collected 200 years ago.

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