Scots Wha Hae
Scots Wha Hae is a patriotic song of Scotland
Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain, it shares a border with England to the south and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the...

 which served for centuries as an unofficial national anthem
National Anthem of Scotland
There is no official national anthem of Scotland. However, a number of songs are used as de facto Scottish anthems, most notably Flower of Scotland and Scotland the Brave...

 of the country, but has lately been largely supplanted by Scotland the Brave
Scotland the Brave
"Scotland the Brave" is a Scottish patriotic song. It was one of several songs considered an unofficial national anthem of Scotland.Scotland the Brave is also the authorised pipe band march of The British Columbia Dragoons of the Canadian Forces, and is played during the Pass in Review at Friday...

and Flower of Scotland
Flower of Scotland
Flower of Scotland is a Scottish song, used frequently at special occasions and sporting events. Although there is no official national anthem of Scotland, Flower of Scotland is one of a number of songs which unofficially fulfil this role, along with the older Scots Wha Hae, Scotland the Brave...


The lyrics were written by Robert Burns
Robert Burns
Robert Burns was a Scottish poet and a lyricist. He is widely regarded as the national poet of Scotland, and is celebrated worldwide...

 in 1793, in the form of a speech given by Robert the Bruce before the Battle of Bannockburn
Battle of Bannockburn
The Battle of Bannockburn was a significant Scottish victory in the Wars of Scottish Independence...

 in 1314, where Scotland maintained its sovereignty
Sovereignty is the quality of having supreme, independent authority over a geographic area, such as a territory. It can be found in a power to rule and make law that rests on a political fact for which no purely legal explanation can be provided...

 from the Kingdom of England
Kingdom of England
The Kingdom of England was, from 927 to 1707, a sovereign state to the northwest of continental Europe. At its height, the Kingdom of England spanned the southern two-thirds of the island of Great Britain and several smaller outlying islands; what today comprises the legal jurisdiction of England...

. Although the lyrics are by Burns, he wrote them to the traditional Scottish tune 'Hey Tuttie Tatie
Hey Tuttie Tatie
Hey Tuttie Tatie is a traditional Scots air. Its age is unknown, though it is reputed to have been played by the army of Robert the Bruce before the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314....

' which, according to tradition, was played by Bruce's army at the Battle of Bannockburn, and by the Franco-Scots army at the Siege of Orleans
Siege of Orléans
The Siege of Orléans marked a turning point in the Hundred Years' War between France and England. This was Joan of Arc's first major military victory and the first major French success to follow the crushing defeat at Agincourt in 1415. The outset of this siege marked the pinnacle of English power...


The tune tends to be played as a slow air
Air (music)
Air , a variant of the musical song form, is the name of various song-like vocal or instrumental compositions.-English lute ayres:...

, but certain arrangements put it at a faster tempo, as in the Scottish Fantasy
Scottish Fantasy
The Scottish Fantasy in E-flat major, Op. 46, is a composition for violin and orchestra by Max Bruch. Completed in 1880, it was dedicated to the virtuoso violinist Pablo de Sarasate.It is a four movement fantasy on Scottish folk melodies...

by Max Bruch
Max Bruch
Max Christian Friedrich Bruch , also known as Max Karl August Bruch, was a German Romantic composer and conductor who wrote over 200 works, including three violin concertos, the first of which has become a staple of the violin repertoire.-Life:Bruch was born in Cologne, Rhine Province, where he...

, the concert overture Rob Roy by Hector Berlioz
Hector Berlioz
Hector Berlioz was a French Romantic composer, best known for his compositions Symphonie fantastique and Grande messe des morts . Berlioz made significant contributions to the modern orchestra with his Treatise on Instrumentation. He specified huge orchestral forces for some of his works; as a...

, and the Real McKenzies
Real McKenzies
The Real McKenzies is a North American Celtic punk band founded in 1992 and based in Vancouver, British Columbia.In addition to writing and performing original music, Real McKenzies perform traditional Scottish songs, giving them a new punk-influenced sound...

' punk rock
Punk rock
Punk rock is a rock music genre that developed between 1974 and 1976 in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia. Rooted in garage rock and other forms of what is now known as protopunk music, punk rock bands eschewed perceived excesses of mainstream 1970s rock...

 rendition on their 1998 album Clash of the Tartans
Clash of the Tartans
Clash of the Tartans is the second album by the band Real McKenzies, originally released in 1998 . "Mainland" was the selected single, with an accompanying video directed by Danny Novak.-Track listing:...


The song was sent by Burns to his publisher George Thomson, at the end of August 1793, with the title Robert Bruce's March To Bannockburn, and a postscript saying that he had been inspired by Bruce's 'glorious struggle for Freedom, associated with the glowing ideas of some other struggles of the same nature, not quite so ancient.' This is seen as a covert reference to the Radical
Radicalism (historical)
The term Radical was used during the late 18th century for proponents of the Radical Movement. It later became a general pejorative term for those favoring or seeking political reforms which include dramatic changes to the social order...

 movement, and particularly to the trial of the Glasgow
Glasgow is the largest city in Scotland and third most populous in the United Kingdom. The city is situated on the River Clyde in the country's west central lowlands...

 lawyer Thomas Muir of Huntershill
Thomas Muir (radical)
Thomas Muir was a Scottish political reformer.Muir was the son of James Muir, a hop merchant, and was educated at Glasgow Grammar School, before attending the University of Glasgow to study divinity...

, whose trial began on 30 August 1793 as part of a British government crackdown, after the French Revolutionary Wars
French Revolutionary Wars
The French Revolutionary Wars were a series of major conflicts, from 1792 until 1802, fought between the French Revolutionary government and several European states...

 led to France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 declaring war on the Kingdom of Great Britain
Kingdom of Great Britain
The former Kingdom of Great Britain, sometimes described as the 'United Kingdom of Great Britain', That the Two Kingdoms of Scotland and England, shall upon the 1st May next ensuing the date hereof, and forever after, be United into One Kingdom by the Name of GREAT BRITAIN. was a sovereign...

 on 1 February 1793.

Muir was accused of sedition
In law, sedition is overt conduct, such as speech and organization, that is deemed by the legal authority to tend toward insurrection against the established order. Sedition often includes subversion of a constitution and incitement of discontent to lawful authority. Sedition may include any...

 for allegedly inciting the Scottish people to oppose the government during the December 1792 convention of the Scottish 'Friends of the People' society, and was eventually sentenced to fourteen years transportation
Penal transportation
Transportation or penal transportation is the deporting of convicted criminals to a penal colony. Examples include transportation by France to Devil's Island and by the UK to its colonies in the Americas, from the 1610s through the American Revolution in the 1770s, and then to Australia between...

 to the convict settlement at Botany Bay
Botany Bay
Botany Bay is a bay in Sydney, New South Wales, a few kilometres south of the Sydney central business district. The Cooks River and the Georges River are the two major tributaries that flow into the bay...

, Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...


Burns was aware that if he declared his Republican
Republicanism is the ideology of governing a nation as a republic, where the head of state is appointed by means other than heredity, often elections. The exact meaning of republicanism varies depending on the cultural and historical context...

 and Radical sympathies openly he could suffer the same fate. It is notable that when Burns agreed to let the Morning Chronicle
Morning Chronicle
The Morning Chronicle was a newspaper founded in 1769 in London, England, and published under various owners until 1862. It was most notable for having been the first employer of Charles Dickens, and for publishing the articles by Henry Mayhew which were collected and published in book format in...

, of 8 May 1794, publish the song, it was on the basis of 'let them insert it as a thing they have met with by accident, and unknown to me.'

The song was included in the 1799 edition of A Select Collection of Original Scottish Airs for the Voice, edited by George Thomson, but Thomson preferred the tune "Lewie Gordon" and had Burns add to the fourth line of each stanza
In poetry, a stanza is a unit within a larger poem. In modern poetry, the term is often equivalent with strophe; in popular vocal music, a stanza is typically referred to as a "verse"...

, to suit. In the 1802 edition, the original words and tune were restored.

"Scots Wha Hae" is the party song of the Scottish National Party
Scottish National Party
The Scottish National Party is a social-democratic political party in Scotland which campaigns for Scottish independence from the United Kingdom....

. It is sung at the close of their annual national conference
In a meeting, two or more people come together to discuss one or more topics, often in a formal setting.- Definitions :An act or process of coming together as an assembly for a common purpose....

 each year.


Original lyrics in Scots
'Scots, wha hae wi Wallace
William Wallace
Sir William Wallace was a Scottish knight and landowner who became one of the main leaders during the Wars of Scottish Independence....

Scots, wham Bruce
Robert I of Scotland
Robert I , popularly known as Robert the Bruce , was King of Scots from March 25, 1306, until his death in 1329.His paternal ancestors were of Scoto-Norman heritage , and...

 has aften led,
Welcome tae yer gory bed,
Or tae victorie.
English translation
'Scots, who have with Wallace bled,
Scots, whom Bruce has often led,
Welcome to your gory bed
Or to victory.
Scottish Gaelic translation
Fheachd Alba, thug le Uallas buaidh,
'Stric fo Bhrus bha'n cogadh cruaidh,
Failte dhuibh gu fois na h-uaigh,
No gu buaidh is sith.
'Now's the day, an now's the hour:
See the front o battle lour,
See approach proud Edward's
Edward II of England
Edward II , called Edward of Caernarfon, was King of England from 1307 until he was deposed by his wife Isabella in January 1327. He was the sixth Plantagenet king, in a line that began with the reign of Henry II...

 power -
Chains and Slavery.
'Now is the day, and now is the hour:
See the front of battle lower (threaten),
See approach proud Edward's power -
Chains and slavery.
So an latha—an uair so tha,
Feuch fo'n cruaidh a nuas mar sgail,
Feachd na h-uaill fo Ionbhar dan,
'Dheanamh thraillean dinn.
'Wha will be a traitor knave?
Wha will fill a coward's grave?
Wha sae base as be a slave?
Let him turn an flee.
'Who will be a traitor knave?
Who will fill a coward's grave?
Who's so base as be a slave? -
Let him turn, and flee.
Co na shloightear, feallta, fuar?
Co na ghealtar dh'iarradh uaigh?
Co na thraill fo shail luchd-fuath?
Clis bi bhuam fhir-chlith.
'Wha, for Scotland's king and law
Scots law
Scots law is the legal system of Scotland. It is considered a hybrid or mixed legal system as it traces its roots to a number of different historical sources. With English law and Northern Irish law it forms the legal system of the United Kingdom; it shares with the two other systems some...

Freedom's sword will strongly draw,
Freeman stand, or Freeman fa,
Let him on wi me.
'Who for Scotland's King and Law
Freedom's sword will strongly draw,
Freeman stand or freeman fall,
Let him follow me.
Co as leth a Thir, sa Coir
Thairneas staillinn chruaidh na dhorn?
Buaidh an aird, no bas le gloir!
Lean a dheoin do Righ.
'By Oppression's woes and pains,
By your sons in servile chains!
We will drain our dearest veins,
But they shall be free.
'By oppression's woes and pains,
By your sons in servile chains,
We will drain our dearest veins
But they shall be free.
Air ar bruid fo shluagh neo-chaomh,
Air bhur n' al an sas san daors,
Traighidh sinn ar fuil 's an raon,
Bheir sinn saors' d'ar linn.
'Lay the proud usurpers low,
Tyrants fall in every foe,
Liberty's in every blow! -
Let us do or dee.
'Lay the proud usurpers low,
Tyrants fall in every foe,
Liberty is in every blow,
Let us do or die!'
Sios na coimhich bhorb gur bas!
'Streath gun iochd- gach ceann thig bhain,
Saorsa thig an lorg gach straic.
Buaidh no- bas ma'n till.

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