Sangstories - Stories of Scottish Songs

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

Sae Will We Yet

by Walter Watson (1780-1854) 
Air: The Wearing o’ The Green

Sit doon here my cronies and gie us your crack
Let the wind tak the care o this life on its back
Oor hearts tae despondency we never will submit
For we've aye been provided for, and sae will we yet
And sae will we yet, and sae will we yet
We've ayeways been provided for, and sae will we yet

So fill us a tankard o nappy broon ale
It'll comfort our herts and enliven the tale
For we'll aye be the merrier the langer that we sit
For we drank thegither mony's the time, and sae will we yet
And sae will we yet, and sae will we yet
We drank thegither mony's the time, and sae will we yet

Here's a health tae the fairmer, and prosper his ploo
Rewarding his eident toils a' the year through
For the seed-time and harvest we ever will get
For we've lippen'd aye tae Providence, and sae will we yet
And sae will we yet, and sae will we yet
We've lippen'd aye tae Providence, and sae will we yet

So fill up your glasses, let the bottle gae roun
For the sun it will rise, tho the moon has gaen doon,
And tho the room be rinnin roun aboot, it's time enough tae flit
When we fell we aye got up again, and sae will we yet
And sae will we yet, and sae will we yet
When we fell we aye got up again, and sae will we yet

Words:
Crack: entertaining talk, gossip
Eident : diligent, busy
Flit: move out, go elsewhere
Lippened: trusted
Nappy: foaming, strong
Providence: God

This is one of the many songs brought to Sangschule by Gordeanna McCulloch, who explained the unfamiliar words of this drinking song and was patient with the struggles of parent members of the group to cope with the idea of drinking “nappy brown ale.”

The song appears in Vagabond Songs and Ballads of Scotland (1899-1901) with some verses which have subsequently been dropped. Editor Robert Ford notes that while Walter Watson of Chryston wrote this “admirable song of good fellowship” amongst several other popular lyrics, it “is likely that an afterhand added some verses. Anyway, neither the second, nor the fifth and sixth stanzas in our version (Ford’s version) are embraced in the posthumous edition of Watson’s poems and songs published in 1877 – twenty-three years after his death. I have given the song as it is generally sung.”

Here are the verses dropped from our version:

V2 : The miser delights in the hoardin’ o’ his pelf,/ Since he hasna the soul to enjoy it himself: The bounties o’ Providence are new every day: As we journey thro’ life, let us live by the way.

V4: Sae rax me your mill, and my nose I will prime,  (reach me over your snuff mill)
Let mirth and sweet innocence employ a’ our time; / Nae quarrelin’ nor fechtin’ we ever will admit;/ We’ve parted aye in unity, and sae will we yet

V6: Lang live the Queen, and happy may she be, / And success to her forces by land and by sea; / Her enemies to triumph we never will permit;/ Britain aye has been victorious, and sae will she yet.

So verse two above about the miser and verse six about the Queen were thought by Ford to be by other hands, as was our verse 5 about the farmer.  Verse 4 about the snuff mill, also dropped from our version, was included in Watson’s collected work.  But all seven verses were “generally sung” in the late 19th century.

The lyric appears also in Ord’s Bothy Ballads of 1930. By then the snuff mill verse has been dropped but “Long live the King” is kept, Victoria exchanged for Edward.

Ford’s note goes on to quote a long, approving comment from prominent Victorian academic Professor Blackie on the “contentment and resignation running through it, which elevates the drinking-song into a sermon”. He alludes to Matthew 6, 25-34 containing the verse “Take therefore no thought for the morrow; for the morrow shall take care of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.”

Our society has dropped the Victorian idea of knowing one’s place – “The rich man in his castle, the poor man at his gate” and we have also dropped the verse Professor Blackie particularly admired about the monarch and the armed forces.  The farmer with his eident toils remains, his jacket maybe on a shaky nail.

Members Area

Newest Members