There cam a letter late yestreen
Oor ship maun sail the morn
Alas cried the bonny lass
That ever I was born
And it's braw sailin’ on the sea
When wind and weather's fair
It's better to be in my love's airms
O gin that I were there
He’s cam untae her father’s hoose
At twelve o'clock at noon
The lassie bein prood herted
She wouldnae let him in
He’s taen a ring from his pocket
It cost him guineas three
Sayin’ tak ye that my bonny lass
And aye think weel o me
She’s taen a ring from her pocket
It cost her shillings nine
Sayin’ tak ye that my bonny lad
For I hae changed my mind
An it's braw drinkin’ Lithgae beer
It's better drinkin’ wine
It's better tae be in my love's airms
Where I've been mony's the time
Guinea: one pound and one shilling, 21 shillings in the former currency
O gin that I were there: Oh if only I were there
Prood herted: proud-hearted
The morn: tomorrow
This version was brought to Sangschule by Gordeanna McCulloch – and resolves a couple of puzzling lines quoted in other versions, “ She’s taen the ring frae her pocket / Which cost him shillings nine”. In our version, the girl herself pays for the second, and much cheaper ring, “Which cost her shillings nine”. The folk process in action.
In Ord’s Bothy Songs and Ballads, 1930 p. 203, the source of the wine and beer is Glasgow. Sangschule took the liberty of substituting their West Lothian home, Linlithgow, for Glasgow.
This song appears in the Greig-Duncan Folk Song Collection, vol.6, no. 1217.
Greig notes that their record of this song, “ words and tune, was supplied by Mr James Greig, New Deer” with bits supplied from other sources. “ The tune which Mr Greig sang was a variant of ‘Lang Johnny More’”.