Sangstories - Stories of Scottish Songs

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

Boys O Boys

 O I’ve been a servant lassie this eighteen years and ten
I’ve spent all me life up in Strathduie Glen
But now I’m giving it over and I’ll lift my twelve months pay
And I’m bound to say he’ll bless the day, the man that’ll marry me.

Boys, O boys, O won’t you take a wife?
I’m sure ye canna be happy leadin a single life
Boys, O boys, get married while ye’re young
And if it’s a tidy wee wife ye want, ye’re eyein the very one

I will keep his hoose baith neat and clean and everything complete
And I will never give him cause tae ask his bargain back;
Instead o gien him a bowl o brose I’ll coax him up wi tey
And I’m bound to say he’ll bless the day the man that’ll marry me.

I will put his children out tae school, I’m sure there will be two
Ane ca’d for their mither, the ither ane ca’d for you;
And if good fortune smiles on me I’m sure there must be three
And I’m bound to say he’ll bless the day, the man that’ll marry me.

Now John leave off your gambling and John leave off your frowns
And when the term day comes around ye’ll post me down your crowns;
And if you ever lift your hand, John, or use your foot tae me
I’m bound to say you’ll rue the day that ever you married me

Words:
Brose
: Oatmeal and boiling water, or milk, with salt and maybe butter. Might be breakfast or every meal for the country poor.
Gien: giving
Strathduie: placename found in the Kintyre area of Western Scotland
Term day: latterly 28th May and 28th November when farm workers began and ended contracts of employment
Tey: tea, usually an Irish form of the word. 

Gordeanna McCulloch brought this song to Sangschule.

It is recorded without major differences in Herd Laddie O The Glen, Alison McMorland’s collection of the songs of Willie Scott, the border shepherd. Geordie McIntyre’s note there on the song says: “The 1979 edition, no.31 of Tocher has a major feature by Hamish Henderson on the famed Mitchell family of Kintyre. The source for this song was the late Willie Mitchell, local bard and song-collector and we are informed that this ‘was the first song from Kintyre oral tradition’ which Willie Mitchell recorded in his songbook as ‘Oh Boys Oh.’”

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