song lyrics: CLICK HERE


All the Blue Bonets are over the Border

The Jacobite emblem was a white cockade worn in the blue bonnets common at the time.    The third and forth parts of the tune come from an even older tune called, “General Lesly’s March” which dates from around 1666.    Words for the tune were written by Sir Walter Scott in 1820.

The original air of the song All the Blue Bonnets are over the Border, is called “O Dear Mother”.    The popular song version appeared for the first time in Sir Walter Scott’s novel The Monastery, published in 1820.    The words were evidently modeled on an old cavalier song beginning “March! March! Pinks of Election” which we find in the first volume of James Hogg’s Jacobite Relics of Scotland.

Amazing grace

The words to “Amazing Grace” were written in the 18th century by John Newton.     He was born in London and after a life, which included being press-ganged into the navy, flogged and becoming a skipper of a boat plying the slave trade, was converted to religion and became a minister.    He wrote many hymns and this one was propelled into the pop charts when a pipe band recorded the tune.

The now familiar and traditional melody of the hymn was not composed by Newton, and the words were sung to a number of tunes before the now inseparable melody was chanced upon.    They first appear united in a hymnal from 1831 called “Virginia Harmony,” where the tune is called “New Britain.” Any original words sung to the tune are now lost.

The melody is believed to be Scottish or Irish in origin; it is pentatonic and suggests a bagpipe tune.

anchors aweigh

In 1906, Bandmaster Lieutenant Zimmerman was approached by Midshipman First Class Alfred Hart Miles with a request for a new march or fight song. Midshipman Miles was a member of the Naval Academy class of 1907. Miles and his classmates were eager “to have a piece of music that would be inspiring, one with a swing to it so it could be used as a football marching song, and one that would live forever.” The two men reportedly worked out the tune and it was first called “Stand Navy Down The Field”. It was first performed at the Army-Navy football game in Philadelphia in 1906 (Navy beat Army 10-0!). For those who may not be aware, “aweigh”, means to raise or hoist, comes from the nautical phrase “to weigh anchor”. The current lyrics, as revised by George D. Lottman, were adopted in the 1920s, however there are many variations. The melody was revised by D. Sorvino and became the melody for the popular edition of Anchors Aweigh.
Today, the song has become an important part of Chief Petty Officers training. While there is a proposal to include protocol for performing “Anchors Aweigh” in the Navy Regulations and to designate it the official song of the U.S. Navy, it remains an unofficial service song. The 1906 version is the original version, but even there you will find various versions listed as the original.

anchors aweigh

In 1906, Bandmaster Lieutenant Zimmerman was approached by Midshipman First Class Alfred Hart Miles with a request for a new march or fight song. Midshipman Miles was a member of the Naval Academy class of 1907. Miles and his classmates were eager “to have a piece of music that would be inspiring, one with a swing to it so it could be used as a football marching song, and one that would live forever.” The two men reportedly worked out the tune and it was first called “Stand Navy Down The Field”. It was first performed at the Army-Navy football game in Philadelphia in 1906 (Navy beat Army 10-0!). For those who may not be aware, “aweigh”, means to raise or hoist, comes from the nautical phrase “to weigh anchor”. The current lyrics, as revised by George D. Lottman, were adopted in the 1920s, however there are many variations. The melody was revised by D. Sorvino and became the melody for the popular edition of Anchors Aweigh.
Today, the song has become an important part of Chief Petty Officers training. While there is a proposal to include protocol for performing “Anchors Aweigh” in the Navy Regulations and to designate it the official song of the U.S. Navy, it remains an unofficial service song. The 1906 version is the original version, but even there you will find various versions listed as the original.

the atholl highlanders

Dedicated to the private army of the Duke of Atholl, the last private army still legally existing, albeit on a token level, in the British Isles.

The original Atholl Highlanders (and the ones associated with the tune) were the old 77th Highland Regiment, raised in 1778 and commanded by Colonel James Murray.    The 77th served in Ireland and was not engaged in active service, though its garrison services were apparently useful in freeing other units for the conflicts with America and France.   

They were disbanded in 1783 after those conflicts ended (although the disbanding may have come about because of a mutiny).    The tune was later taken up as a march past by the 2nd Battalion of the Cameronians, the 90th Light Infantry, who over the years had shed their Scottish origins.    However, when pipers were introduced in 1881 they recollected their Perthshire origins and chose to play “The Atholl Highlanders” (also known in pipe literature as “The Gathering of the Grahams”).

auld lang syne

Auld Lang Syne is a Scots poem written by Robert Burns in 1788 and set to the tune of a traditional folk song.    It is well known in many countries, especially (but far from exclusively) in the English-speaking world; its traditional use being to celebrate the start of the New Year at the stroke of midnight. By extension, it is also sung at funerals, graduations, and as a farewell or ending to other occasionsExcerpt from Wikipedia

barren rocks of aiden

Ok, here’s another tune whose story is lost to history (see Heights Of Dargai).    In my humble opinion, and from what I can understand from all of the web sites I’ve visited in order to retrieve the story of this tune, it seems the tune is an old fiddle tune that was played by the 78th Seaforth Highlanders when Britian withdrew from Aden.

    One tome says this:

“This was originally an unnamed composition composed by Piper James Mauchline when a detachment of the 78th Seaforth Highlanders was stationed in Aden (during the Aden conflict 1964-67).

Pipe Major Alexander Mackellar re-arranged and named the tune.”

This from Nigel Gatherer’s web site:, one reads this:
“The Barren Rocks of Aden was being published in fiddle collections by the 1870s, but has been around longer in the bagpipe repertoire.    Aden, near the entrance to the Red Sea, was noted for its barren and desolate volcanic rocks, and was annexed to British India in 1839. In 1967, after violence between nationalists and British forces, it became what is now the People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen.”

From this web site,, we get this little tidbit:

          Title: Tommy Atkins at War
                 As Told in His Own Letters
                 Author:    James Alexander Kilpatrick
                 Publisher:  McBride, Nast & Company
                             New York
                 Date: 1914
                 (This is a story about one British Soldiers' experiences in World War I
                  if you wish to read the complete story, go to this web site: 

“The Highlanders have been great favorites in France. Their gaiety, humor and inexhaustible spirits under the most trying conditions have captivated everybody.    Through the villages on their route these brawny fellows march with their pipers to the proud lilt of “The Barren Rocks of Aden” and “The Cock o’ the North,” fine marching tunes that in turn give place to the regimental voices while the pipers are recovering their breath.”

battle of somme

The “big push” began on 1st July 1916.    On the first day 100,000 allied troops assembled at their marshalling points and then at 07:30 hours marched out, shoulder to shoulder, into no-man’s land and towards the entrenched German positions.    The grand set-piece offensive quickly degenerated into wholesale slaughter.    The allied causalities on this first day alone were nearly 60,000 (20,000 of which were fatal).

The Somme offensive did little to affect the outcome of the War and by the time the offensive ended in November the allied casualties were over 600,000.

The tune itself was composed shortly afterwards by Pipe Major William Laurie of the 8th Battalion, Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders. It was commonly regarded as the best composition of the First World War.    Unfortunately Pipe Major Laurie died later that year of illness after being invalided home.    The Battle of the Somme was a Battle Honour of the Wellington Regiment.

because he was a bonnie lad

Because he was a Bonnie Lad is an old tune, it’s author and history are currently unknown.    As is common with a lot of Scottish tunes the author may be lost to time.

The tune is also known as Because He Was A Bonnie Lad, The Bonny Boy, Gin He Was A Bonny Lad, Gin I Was A Bonny Lad.

bonnie dundee

The words are by Sir Walter Scott.    It is a poem about John Graham, 7th Laird of Claverhouse, 1st Viscount of Dundee who was known by his nickname.
The song has been used as a regimental march by several Scottish regiments in the British Army and was adapted by Confederate troops in the American Civil War.

John Graham, the laird of Claverhouse and 1st Viscount of Dundee was called “Bluidy Clavers” (Bloody Claverhouse) by his opponents, but Bonnie Dundee by his followers among the Jacobites.    His nickname, “Bonnie”, arose either from his exploits as a leader or that he was considered handsome.    When William of Orange landed, beginning what is now known as the Glorious Revolution, Claverhouse was one of the few Scottish nobles who remained loyal to James VII of Scotland (James II of England).    After trying to influence the Convention of Estates of Scotland on James’s behalf, at some danger to himself, he led his cavalry out of Edinburgh to carry on the struggle in the field, and was killed at the moment of victory in the battle of Killiecrankie (1689).    Over a century later he was immortalised in a poem by Walter Scott which was later adapted into a song.

campbell’s farewell to redcastle

Believed to be referring to Captain Robert Campbell of Glenlyon, who led troops in the massacre of Glencoe Pass in 1692.

Redcastle is a village on the north side of Beauty Firth approximately 100 miles from Glencoe, whose castle was built in 1179 (it claims to be the oldest inhabited castle in Scotland).

The Scots Guards Standard Pipe Settings suggests that “The Sweet Maid of Glendaruel” follow “Campbell’s Farewell to Redcastle.” Glendaruel is on the way to Tighnabruaich from Glencoe and is nearly as far to the south as Redcastle is to the north.

Corriechoillie’s 43rd Welcome to the Northern Meeting

The Search is over!    According to the Museum curator of the College of Piping in Glasgow, Scotland:

“I expect you know that lairds in Scotland are usually referred to by the name of their estate.    This is the case with Corriechollie.    The man for whom the tune was written was P. Cameron of Corriechollie who was a piping enthusiast.

On the cover of the Piping Times Vol 24 No 12 there is a picture of P. Cameron, Corriechollie with John MacDougall Gillies at the Argyllshire Gathering in about 1903.    The full title of the tune is Corriechollie’s 43rd Welcome to the Northern Meeting.

There is another tune similarly named- Dr Ross’s 50th Welcome to the Argyllshire Gathering- which commemorates another enthusiast.    The Argyllshire Gathering and the Northern Meeting are the two most important piping competitions.”

crags of tumbledown mountain (4/4)

Pipe Major James Riddell commemorates the Falkland Islands Campaign and the combat losses suffered by the 2nd Battalion Scots Guards in this tune.

Mt Tumbledown was the scene of the last battle in the war of the Falklands in 1982.    The Scots Guards took the mount in a battle that most experts thought was not possible.    Just after the victory and the end of this war the Royal Irish Rangers were sent there and began using the mount as a training facility while stationed at Port Stanley.    The idea was to have the btn divide into two groups, one to play the role of the Argentine army and look at ways to defend and the other group to create various attack plans.    There is still a lot of army debris scattered around from the original battle.

Dark Island (6/8 slow air)

The words of this version are by David Silver and the tune was first copyrighted by Ian MacLaughlan.    It was written for the BBC film “The Dark Island” in 1963.    This was filmed mainly in South Uist, but was about Benbecula in the Outer Hebrides.

Another set of words to the tune was written by Stewart Ross of Inverness – “In the years long gone by when I first left my home…That lovely dark island where memories stray.”

the duck

A four-part pipe jig composed by Donald MacLeod and named after one of his students with a notable posture.

eastern township

Composer Michael Grey. “L’Estrie” is what French speaking people in Quebec call the Eastern Townships, a part of the province that takes in most of the area south of Montreal to the American border.

flett from flotta

The tune Flett from Flotta has an interesting story behind it.    Donald MacLeod, MBE, of the Seaforth Highlanders was a very prominent piper of old in the Scottish regiments.    The regimental silver was on it’s way down to London for a big “do” and Donald and another soldier were guarding the silver on a train.    While sitting on the crates containing the silver, they played their chanters to while away the time.    Donald said they should write a tune to pass the time and when the tune was finished they were looking for a title.    He asked the big soldier what was his name and where was he from.   Having been told “George Flett from Flotta,” The rest is (as they say) history.    The tune was written after Donald observed the peculiar gait of Flett.    The rhythm is supposed to reflect his awkward walking style.    Helps with the phrasing of the tune if you think of it like that, too.

NOTE:    The information above is a compilation of several info sites that were similar as far as the story goes.    There are many different versions out there so take your pick

flowers of the forest (funeral march)

Flowers of the Forest is an ancient Scottish folk tune.    Although the original words are unknown, the melody was recorded in c. 1615-25 in the John Skene of Halyards Manuscript as “Flowres of the Forrest,” though it may have been composed earlier.
Several versions of words have been added to the tune, notably Jean Elliot’s lyrics in 1756.    Others include those by Alison Cockburn in 1765.    However, many renditions are played on the Great Highland Bagpipe.    Due to the content of the lyrics and the reverence for the tune, it is one of the few tunes that many pipers will only perform at funerals or memorial services, and only practice it in private or to instruct other pipers.

the sword dance (ghillie callum)

There is no Highland Dance older or better known than the Sword Dance, or Ghillie Callum.

The Sword Dance is the ancient dance of war of the Scottish Gael and is said to date back to King Malcolm Canmore (Shakespear’s MacBeth).

Tradition says the original Ghillie Callum was a Celtic prince who was a hero of mortal combat against one of MacBeth’s Chiefs at the Battle of Dunsinane in 1054.

He is said to have crossed his own bloody claymore (the two-handed broadsword of Scotland) and crossed it over the bloodier sword of the defeated Chief and danced over them both in exultation.

This dance of exultation became a tradition among the highland warriors, and in subsequent battles, clansman would cross their swords and dance around them in the same way. In addition to being a test of skill and agility, it was believed that if they could complete the dance without touching the swords, it was a good omen that they would be victorious in the coming battle.    However to touch or displace the swords was a bad omen and was indicative of losses or even defeat.

There are many variations of the sword dance around today but they do have common features (although, of course there are examples of exceptions to all of these):

  • The dance is performed over or around 2 crossed swords (although 3, 4 or even 8 swords are used from time to time)
  • The dance normally comprises slow (strathspey) time followed by quick (reel) time
  • The dancer normally travels anticlockwise round the sword

The dance performed at the Highland Games today typically comprises 1 dancer performing over 2 crossed swords and includes 2 or 3 slow steps followed by 1 or 2 quick steps and focuses on technical accuracy and the precise placing of the feet. Whereas the dance seen in exhibitions tends to be performed at a much faster pace and where completion of the dance without inflicting self injury necessitates appropriate placing of the feet and rapid body turns and as a result is an extremely exciting visually display.

In the first step the dancer performs the steps outside the sword or “addresses” the sword. Subsequent steps are danced over the crossed blades, but notice that once inside the blades, the dancer never dances with his back turned to the swords – only a fool would turn his back on a weapon. It requires tremendous dexterity not to displace the swords.

It is worthy of note that the Sword Dance is unique in Scottish Dance in that it is comprise almost entirely of only one movement – the pas de basque. All other movements provide a supporting role.

green hills of tyrol (3/4 retreat)

Originally from the opera “William Tell” by Rossini, but was transcribed to the pipes in 1854 by Pipe Major John MacLeod after he heard it played by a Sardinian military band when serving in the Crimean War with his Regiment, the 93rd Sutherland Highlanders.    In October of that year MacLeod and five other pipers participated in the event that made the Regiment’s reputation.    The Russian heavy cavalry had taken the Causeway Heights, and its gun emplacements, above the supply port of Balaclava.    Only the Sutherland Highlanders under Sir Colin Campbell stood between them and the port – the capture of which would have ended the campaign there and then.    The heavy cavalry rolled down the hill onto the 93rd.

Ordered to die where they stood if need be, the 93rd was formed into an extended line two ranks deep rather than in the defensive square formation more usually adopted by infantry facing a cavalry attack.    The 93rd stood its ground, firing controlled volleys into the attacking cavalry.    The cavalry faltered and veered to the left of the 93rd exposing their flank to more fire.    The repelling of a heavy cavalry charge by grossly outnumbered infantry was an unprecedented achievement.

The feat was witnessed by The Times’ war correspondent who immortalized the 93rd as “the thin red streak tipped with a line of steel”.    When the Crimean campaign finally ended the 93rd were immediately dispatched to fight in the Indian Mutiny.    In this campaign Pipe Major MacLeod distinguished himself at the siege of Lucknow when he was first through the breach and almost immediately began playing the pipes.


heights of dargai

A nice tune from what I hear (I’ve never heard it), with an interesting history and none of us play it.    What we’re actually playing is “The Dagshai Hills”.    It was erroneously published under “The Heights of Dargai” title either by accident, or in a rush to put a tune by that name out to the public soon after the Battle of Dargai.

There are many versions of the history of this particular tune.    The one part that all agree on is the piper affiliated with the “Heights of Dargai”, one George Findlater(VC).

In October, 1897 the British Government sent a force of 30,000 men to the Tirah Province of India to put down a revolt by Afridi Tribsmen.    The Gordon Highlanders were sent to join the force and on the 18th were part of an assault on the Heights of Dargai.

The Heights were taken and promptly lost to the attacking Tribsmen.    On the 20th the Dorset and Devon Regiment and the Ghurka Rifles were sent to storm the Heights.    This attack faltered and the Gordons were ordered into the fray.    Led by their Colonel and with pipers playing, they crossed open ground through heavy fire.    The Afridi Tribesmen, seeing this, started a disorderly retreat.   Fourty minutes later, the Gordon Highlanders had re-taken the Heights.

Piper Findlater, shot in both ankles had fellow troopers prop him against a boulder so that he could continue to pipe the Regiment forward.

Now the part that not everyone can agree on.    It seems that alot of historians (and Official Records) feel that Piper Findlater played the Gordon Highlanders’ Regimental March, “Cock o’The North”, this is often disputed.    Piper Findlater himself stated that he was not sure what to play, and chose the a strathspey, “Haughs of Cromdale”, as more fitting to the advance – a charge, not a march.

Findlater was invalided back to England due to the wounds he received during the battle.

He was awarded the Victoria Cross for Gallentry which was given to him by Queen Victoria herself.


highland cathedral

The tune was written in 1982 by two Germans – Michael Kolb and Uli Roever.    Kolb had fallen in love with the pipes when he heard them being played by a Scottish Battalion stationed in Berlin.    He was so impressed, he began learning from one of the military pipers.

When the Scots left, Kolb did as well, heading for Edinburgh and further pipe lessons.    The tune was first recorded by Kolb (playing the pipes) also in 1982.


highland laddie

Originally the “Lass of Livingston” from the 1700’s.    The tune has been used with many sets of words ranging from Jacobite songs to Methodist Hymns.

Highland Laddie, also known as Hielan’ Laddie, is the name of an ancient Scottish popular folk tune If thou’lt play me fair play[1], but as with many old melodies, various sets of words can be sung to it and Robert Burns’ poem ‘Highland Laddie, Highland Lassie’ has been the most memorable. Highland Regiments raised in the 18th and early 19th centuries employed many unique symbols to differentiate themselves from other regiments and enlisted distinctive music to announce their arrival, but as a result of the Cardwell Reforms of 1881, all British Army Highland Regiments were required to use ‘Highland Laddie’ as their Regimental March. Over time, many of these regiments had managed to return to their pre-Cardwell marches when, in March 2006, the establishment of the Royal Regiment of Scotland saw the disappearance of all Scotland’s historic infantry regiments and their distinctions, including music, and the adoption of a new Regimental March, “Scotland the Brave”. A version of this song has been recorded by the Newfoundland folk rock band Great Big Sea as “Donkey Riding.”


jolly beggarman

“The Little Beggarman” is best known in the US as the bluegrass fiddle tune, “Red Haired Boy.” A US version of the “Red Haired Boy” tune is “Old Soldier with a Wooden Leg” from the Civil War period.

From A Fiddler’s Companion: The English translation of the Gaelic title “Giolla Rua” (or, Englished, “Gilderoy”), and is generally thought to commemorate a real-life rogue and bandit, however, Baring-Gould remarks that in Scotland the “Beggar” of the title is also identified with King James V.    The song was quite common under the Gaelic and the alternate title “The Little Beggarman” (or “The Beggarman,” “The Beggar”) throughout the British Isles.    For example, it appears in Baring-Gould’s 1895 London publication Garland of Country Song and in The Forsaken Lover’s Garland, and in the original Scots in The Scots Musical Museum.

A similarly titled song, “Beggar’s Meal Poke’s,” was composed by James VI of Scotland (who in course became James the I of England), an ascription confused often with his ancestor James I, who was the reputed author of the verses of a song called “The Jolly Beggar.”     The tune is printed in Bunting’s 1840 A Collection of the Ancient Music of Ireland as “An Maidrin Ruadh” (The Little Red Fox).    The melody is one of the relatively few common to fiddlers throughout Scotland and Ireland, and was transferred nearly intact to the American fiddle tradition (both North and South) where it has been a favorite of bluegrass fiddlers in recent times.


marine corps hymn

Following the war with the Barbary Pirates in 1805, when Lieutenant Presley N. O’Bannon and his small force of Marines participated in the capture of Derne and hoisted the American flag for the first time over a fortress of the Old World, the Colors of the Corps was inscribed with the words: “To the Shores of Tripoli.” After the Marines had participated in the capture and occupation of Mexico City and the Castle of Chapultepec, otherwise known as the “Halls of Montezuma,” the words on the Colors were changed to read: “From the Shores of Tripoli to the Halls of Montezuma.”

Following the close of the Mexican War came the first verse of the Marines’ Hymn, written, according to tradition, by a Marine on duty in Mexico. For the sake of euphony, the unknown author transposed the phrases in the motto on the Colors so that the first two lines of the Hymn would read: “From the Halls of Montezuma, To the Shores of Tripoli.”

A serious attempt to trace the tune of the Marines’ Hymn to its source is revealed in correspondence between Colonel A.S. McLemore, USMC, and Walter F. Smith, second leader of the Marine Band. Colonel McLemore wrote:

“Major Richard Wallach, USMC, says that in 1878, when he was in Paris, France, the aria to which the Marines’ Hymn is now sung was a very popular one.” The name of the opera and a part of the chorus was secured from Major Wallach and forwarded to Mr. Smith, who replied: “Major Wallach is to be congratulated upon a wonderfully accurate musical memory, for the aria of the Marine Hymn is certainly to be found in the opera, ‘Genevieve de Brabant’…The melody is not in the exact form of the Marine Hymn, but is undoubtedly the aria from which it was taken. I am informed, however, by one of the members of the band, who has a Spanish wife, that the aria was one familiar to her childhood and it may, therefore, be a Spanish folk song.”

In a letter to Major Harold F. Wingman, USMC, dated 18 July [1919], John Philip Sousa wrote: “The melody of the ‘Halls of Montezuma’ is taken from Offenbach’s comic opera, ‘Genevieve de Brabant’ and is sung by two gendarmes.” Most people believe that the aria of the Marines’ Hymn was, in fact, taken from “Genevieve de Brabant,” an opera-bouffe (a farcical form of opera, generally termed musical comedy) composed by Jacques Offenbach (1819-1880), and presented at the Theatre de Bouffes Parisiens, Paris, on November 19, 1859.

Offenbach was born in Cologne, Germany, June 20, 1819 and died October 5, 1880. He studied music from an early age and in 1838 entered the Paris Conservatoire as a student. In 1834 he was admitted as a violoncellist to the Opera Comique and soon attained much popularity with Parisien audiences. He became conductor of the Theatre Francais in 1847 and subsequently leased the Theatre Comte, which he reopened as the Bouffes-Parisiens. Most of his operas are classed as comic (light and fanciful) and include numerous popular productions, many of which still hold a high place in European and American countries.

Genevieve de Brabant was the wife of Count Siegfried of Brabant. Brabant, a district in the central lowlands of Holland and Belgium, formerly constituted an independent duchy. The southern portions were inhabited by Walloons, a class of people now occupying the southeastern part of Belgium, especially the provinces of Liege, Arlon and Namur.

Every campaign the Marines have taken part in gives birth to an unofficial verse. For example, the following from Iceland:

                                            "Again in nineteen forty-one
                                            We sailed a north'ard course
                                            And found beneath the midnight sun,
                                            The Viking and the Norse.
                                            The Iceland girls were slim and fair,
                                            And fair the Iceland scenes,
                                            And the Army found in landing there,
                                            The United States Marines."
        Copyright ownership of the Marines' Hymn was vested in the United States Marine Corps per certificate 
        of registration dated August 19, 1891 but is now in the public domain. In 1929, the Commandant of the 
        Marine Corps authorized the following verses of the Marines' Hymn as the official version:
                                            "From the Halls of Montezuma
                                            To the Shores of Tripoli;
                                            We fight our country's battles
                                            On the land as on the sea;
                                            First to fight for right and freedom
                                            And to keep our honor clean;
                                            We are proud to claim the title
                                            of United States Marine."
                                            "Our flag's unfurled to every breeze
                                            From dawn to setting sun;
                                            We have fought in ev'ry clime and place
                                            Where we could take a gun;
                                            In the snow of far-off Northern lands
                                            And in sunny tropic scenes;
                                            You will find us always on the job--
                                            The United States Marines."
                                            "Here's health to you and to our Corps
                                            Which we are proud to serve
                                            In many a strife we've fought for life
                                            And never lost our nerve;
                                            If the Army and the Navy
                                            Ever look on Heaven's scenes;
                                            They will find the streets are guarded
                                            By United States Marines."

On November 21, 1942, the Commandant of the Marine Corps approved a change in the words of the fourth line, first verse, to read, “In air, on land, and sea.”
Former-Gunnery Sergeant H.L. Tallman, veteran observer in Marine Corps Aviation who participated in many combat missions with Marine Corps Aviation over the Western Front in World War I, first proposed the change at a meeting of the First Marine Aviation Force Veterans Association in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Many interesting stories have been associated with the Marines’ Hymn. One of the best was published in the Stars and Stripes, the official newspaper of the AEF, under date of August 16, 1918.
“A wounded officer from among the gallant French lancers had just been carried into a Yankee field hospital to have his dressing changed. He was full of compliments and curiosity about the dashing contingent that fought at his regiment’s left.
“‘A lot of them are mounted troops by this time,’ he explained, ‘for when our men would be shot from their horses, these youngsters would give one running jump and gallop ahead as cavalry. I believe they are soldiers from Montezuma. At least, when they advanced this morning, they were all singing “From the Halls of Montezuma to the Shores of Tripoli”.'”
The Marines’ Hymn has been sung and played in all of the four corners of the earth and today is recognized as one of the foremost service songs.


mairi’s wedding

Mairi’s Wedding (also known as Marie’s Wedding, the Lewis Bridal Song, or Mairi Bhan) is a Scottish folk song originally written in Gaelic by Johnny Bannerman for Mary McNiven.    Written using a traditional Scottish tune, it was first played for McNiven in 1935 at the Old Highlanders Institute in Glasgow’s Elmbank Street.    Hugh S. Roberton translated the Gaelic version into English in 1936.

It is also a Scottish country dance, 40 bar, reel time, devised in 1959 by James B. Cosh.


marquis of huntly’s highland fling (strathspey)

The Marquis of Huntly’s Highland Fling is a popular strathspey.    The B part has travelled to Ireland and is played as a reel, The Flax In Bloom, and a slide jig, Dennis Murphy’s Slide.

Composed by George Jenkins (c. 1760-1806), who was a friend or at least a correspondent of the Gows (perhaps, like them, from Perthshire, though his country of origin is obscure) and a teacher of “Scotch Dancing” in London about the year 1794.    The tune, which was the first use of the term ‘Highland fling,’ appears in his First Collection of 1793.    It also appears in Issac Cooper of Banff’s (b. 1755-d. 1810 or 1811, although sometimes the year is given as 1820) Collection of Strathspeys, Reels and Irish Jigs for the Piano-Forte & Violin to which are added Scots, Irish & Welch Airs Composed and Selected by I. Cooper at Banff (London, Edinburgh, c. 1806).    Christine Martin (2002) says the Highland Fling is the oldest Highland dance, and is said to have been based on the rutting of stags (and as such, is related to fertility dances).


molly connell (strathspey)

Molly Connell was composed by Jim Wark for the wife of one of his colleagues in the Strathclyde Police Pipe Band.
Source: Museum Curator, The College of Piping


my love she’s but a lassie yet

A very popular song which was first printed as Miss Farquharson’s Reel in 1757 but later appeared in the Scots Musical Museum of 1790 with these words by Robert Burns.


off we go into the wild blue yonder (air force song)

In 1938 Liberty magazine sponsored a contest for a spirited, enduring musical composition to become the official Army Air Corps song. Of 757 scores submitted, one written by Mr. Robert Crawford was selected by a committee of Air Corps wives. The song was officially introduced at the Cleveland Air Races on Sept. 2, 1939. Fittingly, Mr. Crawford sang it in its first public rendition.

Mr. Crawford’s original title was “What Do You Think of the Air Corps Now?” but he changed it for the contest to “Nothing’ll Stop the Air Corps Now.”    By the time the song was published in 1939 as “The Army Air Corps,” the phrase had been changed again, this time to “Nothing’ll Stop the Army Air Corps.” With the creation of the separate U.S. Air Force in 1947, the official name became “The U.S. Air Force” and the phrase was changed to “Nothing’ll Stop the U.S. Air Force.”

The first page of the score that Mr. Crawford submitted to the selection committee in July 1939 was carried to the surface of the moon on July 30, 1971, aboard the Apollo 15 “Falcon” lunar module by Col. David R. Scott and Lt. Col. James B. Irwin. Ironically, at the moment the “Falcon” blasted off the surface of the moon with Col. Scott and Lt. Col. Irwin on board, a rendition of the “Air Force Song” was broadcast to the world by Maj. Alfred W. Worden, who had a tape recorder aboard the “Endeavor” command module, which was in orbit above the moon. Col. Scott, Lt. Col. Irwin and Maj. Worden comprised the first and only all-Air Force Apollo crew and arranged to take the page of sheet music with them as a tribute to Mr. Crawford and the U.S. Air Force.


orange and blue (strathspey)

This sparky strathspey or schottische tune has been popular throughout Scotland for over 200 years.

Its Gaelic title, ‘Brochan Lom’, means ‘thin porridge’.

It was played for the East Lothian country dance called ‘Orange and Blue’.


pipe major donald maclean of lewis (6/8 march)

P/M Donald MacLean was a well known piper who served during WW2 and was afterwards the manager of Lawries bagpipe shop in Glasgow.
Source: Museum Curator, The College of Piping


rowan tree (4/4 march)

The name “rowan” is derived from the Old Norse name for the tree, raun.    Linguists believe that the Norse name is ultimately derived from a proto-Germanic word raudnian meaning “getting red” and which referred to the red foliage and red berries in the autumn.    Rowan is one of the familiar wild trees in the British Isles, and has acquired numerous English folk names.    The following are a few of the numerous recorded folk names for the rowan: Delight of the eye (Luisliu)QuickbaneRoan treeRune treeWhispering treeWicken-treeWitch woodWitchbane.    Many of these can be easily linked to the mythology and folklore surrounding the tree.    In Gaelic, it is caorann, or Rudha-an (red one, pronounced quite similarly to English “rowan”).

The European rowan has a long tradition in European mythology and folklore.    It was thought to be a magical tree and protection against malevolent beings.    In Celtic mythology the rowan is called the Traveller’s Tree because it prevents those on a journey from getting lost.    It was said in England that this was the tree on which the Devil hanged his mother.

The rowans or mountain-ashes are shrubs or small trees in genus Sorbus of family Rosaceae.    They are native throughout the cool temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere, with the highest species diversity in the mountains of western China and the Himalaya, where numerous apomictic microspecies occur.


seann triubhas

The Seann Triubhas is a Highland Dance that is believed to have originated from the rebellion of 1745, when England banned the Highlanders from wearing kilts.    It is pronounced ‘shenn troovass’.

During this rebellion, Bonnie Prince Charlie challenged the might of England at Culloden.    He lost the battle, and as a consequence the Highlanders were banned from wearing kilts.    Kilts, along with bagpipes, were considered by the English as instruments of war.    Without their kilts, they had to turn to wearing trousers.    About thirty years later, the laws were repealed because of the tartan fabric fashion craze in London and the Highlanders were allowed to return to their original dress.    The Seann Triubhas was created as a dance of celebration.    The movements of the dance depict the legs defiantly shaking and shedding the hated trousers, to return to the freedom of the kilt.    Some of these steps are believed to have originated from hard shoe dancing.    “Seann Triubhas” is a Gaelic phrase which means “Old or Unwanted Trousers”.

The first part of this dance depicts the dancer shedding the trousers, but this changes near the end.    The dancer will clap, and this tells the bagpiper to speed up the music.    The last steps look similar to the Highland Fling, and symbolize the joy of returning to the kilt.

Considering that tartan trews were part of the Highland wardrobe for chieftains and gentlemen whilst on horseback (the large Highland ponies) from the early 17th century onward, it is more likely that the ‘Truibhas’ in the dance represent English-style plain trousers (breeches), adopted under duress by Highlanders following the ban on their native Highland kilted dress effective from 1 August 1746 to its repeal on 1 July 1782.

The Seann Triubhas is now danced at most Highland Dance competitions around the world.    Dancers usually start dancing it in the Beginner category at competitions, and continue to dance it up to Premier.    This dance is also common in most Highland and Theory exams.    Dancers wear the standard kilt outfit to perform this dance.


scotland the brave (4/4 march)

A little history on Scotland the Brave:

SCOTLAND THE BRAVE. AKA “My Bonnie Lass(ie),” “Brave Scotland,” “Scotland Forever.” Scottish, March (2/4 time); English, Morris Dance Tune. G Major (Brody, Wade): D Major (Reiner). Standard. AB (Wade): AABB (Brody): AA’BB (Reiner).    Tune used for a polka step in the North ‑West (England) morris dance tradition, and a march in Scotland and Shetland.    Jack Campin believes it first appeared around the turn of the 20th century, with words set to it in 1950 by Cliff Hanley (which may be tongue-in-cheek, there is a story that Hanly, a great humorist, tried to put as many cliches about Scotland into the lyric as possible!).

Another story told regarding the lyric is told by Harry Burns:

” Robert Wilson, who was at the time at the peak of his career, was looking for a new song for his stage show.    Hanley was commissioned to write the song.    The fee was £25 and Wilson was to get the copyright.
Hanley took the completed song to Wilson who read it, gave him the agreed £25 then refused to let Hanley sign away the rights.    “Naw, naw son, this is far too good.    I’d be cheating you if I took the rights to this,” said Wilson.”

The oldest appearance of the melody Campin has seen was in a Boys’ Brigade pipe tune book from about 1911 where the title appeared as “Scotland, the Brave!!!”.    Charles Gore says the tune appears to date from about 1891-5, when it was published in Keith Norman Macdonald’s Gesto Collection of Highland Music under the title “Brave Scotland” and/or “Scotland for Ever”, however the same tune in various arrangments had been passed down as as a medly sung to various lyrics in many languages in pubs throught europe in the 19th century.
Brody (Fiddler’s Fakebook), 1983; pg. 252.    Reid, pg. 5. Reiner (Anthology of Fiddle Styles), 1979; pg. 16 (includes variations).    Sweet (Fifer’s Delight), 1965; pg. 50.    Wade (Mally’s North West Morris Book), 1988; pg. 18.    F&W Records 6, Fireside String Band “Square Dance Tunes for a Yankee Caller.”    Front Hall 01, Fennigs All Stars “The Hammered Dulcimer.” Tradition 2118, Jim MacLeod & His Band “Scottish Dances: Jigs, Waltzes and Reels” (1979).


semper paratus (us coast guard hymn)

No one seems to know exactly how Semper Paratus was chosen as the Coast Guard’s motto.    But there is no doubt as to who put the famous motto to words and music.

Captain Francis Saltus Van Boskerck wrote the words in the cabin of the cutter Yamacraw in Savannah, Ga., in 1922.    He wrote the music five years later on a beat-up old piano in Unalaska, Alaska. At that time it was probably the only piano in the whole long chain of Aleutian Islands. Van Boskerck received his commission in the Revenue Cutter Service May 20, 1891. Between 1914 and 1915 he superintended the construction of the cutters Tallapoosa and Ossipee at Newport News, Va.

“Captain Van,” as he was known to his many friends, was next ordered to Seattle as Assistant Inspector of the Northwest District.    In 1925 and 1926 he was Commander of the Bering Sea Forces, headquartered at the remote port of Unalaska. It was here that he found time to fit the words of his song to music with the help of two Public Health dentists, Alf E. Nannestad and Joseph O. Fournier. Mrs. Albert C. Clara Goss, the wife of a fur trader, let them use the beatup piano on which the song was written. For probably as long as Captain Van Boskerck could remember, Semper Paratus had been a Revenue Cutter and Coast Guard watchword. The words themselves, Latin for “Always Ready” or “Ever Ready“, date back to ancient times.

No official recognition was given to the Coast Guard motto until it appeared in 1910 on the ensign.    Captain Van Boskerck hoped to give it as much recognition as “Semper Fidelis” of the U. S. Marines and “Anchors Away” of the Navy.


skye boat song

The words are by Sir Harold Boulton, Bart., 1884.    The first half of the tune is said to be an old sea shanty; the other half is traditionally attributed to Miss Annie MacLeod.    Charles Edward Stewart, the Young Pretender, was defeated by the Duke of Cumberland on Culloden Moor in 1746.

Aided by Flora MacDonald, Bonnie Prince Charlie escaped to the island of Skye.    He was later taken by a French vessel to Morlaix on the coast of Bretagne.    The words commemorate the Prince’s escape.


teribus (4/4 march)

The melody’s traditional and dates back to the 16th Century.    A gentleman (and a poet) named James Hogg put words to it around 1819.

The words are Old Welsh, “Tyr y bas y tyr y Odin,” variously translated as “Land of Death and Land of Odin” or “Thor be with us, Thor and Odin”

This tune is the traditional tune for the Hawick riding.    The riding is a beating of the boundry ceremony.    The town of Hawick, mentioned in the song, is in the border country of England/Scotland.

It was origionaly played by a piper, but was changed to a fife and pipe band in the mid 1800’s.    Around the turn of the century, c1900.    someone suggested another tune might be played.    He was told that the town would not stand it, and would rise against any change.

There’s more but there is not enough space here. Follow this link for an interesting history of this tune! Teribus


we’re no’ awa’ to bide awa’ 

Originally a drinking song, this is the archetypal “farewell” song, played by pipers on the quayside when many a ship has left port. There are a number of variations of the words – though most people only know the chorus.


when the battle’s over (3/4 retreat)

When the Battle is Over is a suitable title for a retreat march as these were played for soldiers when returning to their barracks or camp at the end of the day. Andy Stewart later put words to the tune.
Source: Museum Curator, The College of Piping


wings (4/4 march)

The regimental march of the Royal Engineers. In 1870 the Commandant of the School of Military Engineering directed that a popular air of the day be adopted as the Corps Regimental March, unaware that The British Grenadiers had already been authorized. The tune adopted was “Wings”, a combination of two tunes, “Wings” and “The Path Across the Hills”. It was not until 1902 that Wings was officially recognized with The British Grenadiers as the second Regimental Quick March.