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Updated 04/29/2013

 


Flower of Scotland
Roy Williamson
 

Flower of Scotland (Scottish Gaelic: Flýr na h-Alba, Scots: Flouer o Scotland) is a Scottish song, used frequently at special occasions and sporting events. Although Scotland has no official national anthem, Flower of Scotland is one of a number of songs which unofficially fulfill this role, along with Highland Cathedral and the older Scotland the Brave. It was written by Roy Williamson of the folk group, The Corries, and presented in 1967, and refers to the victory of the Scots, led by Robert the Bruce, over England's Edward II at the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314.  Ironically in 1603 Elizabeth I died childless and her second cousin James VI, King of Scots, ascended to the English throne, thus gaining by marriage what what force of arms could not.  The tune was originally composed on the Northumbrian smallpipes, which play in F and have the benefit of keys on the chanter to achieve a greater range of notes.

Roy Williamson was born in 1936 in Edinburgh. His mother played the piano. At school he learned to play the recorder by ear, pretending to read music. The teacher found out and banned him from music lessons. He went to Wester Elchies School, then Aberlour House and Gordonstoun in Moray. He taught seamanship and navigation at Burghead before going to Edinburgh College of Art. It was there that he met Ronnie Browne in 1955. The partnership lasted over thirty years.

Williamson teamed up with Bill Smith and Ron Cockburn to form the "Corrie Folk Trio" in 1962. Their first performance was in the Waverley Bar in St Mary's Street, Edinburgh. After a few weeks Cockburn left. They had already accepted an engagement at the Edinburgh Festival so Williamson suggested that Ronnie Browne should be brought in to make up numbers. They also added female Irish singer Paddie Bell to become the "Corrie Folk Trio and Paddie Bell". The audience was only eight people for the debut of this line-up but by the end of the festival it was house full at every performance. A corrie is a circular dip in a highland mountain. They chose it to evoke the Scottish landscape.

Williamson was a skilled woodworker. In the summer of 1969 he invented the 'combolins', two complementary instruments which combined several into a single instrument. One combined a mandolin and a guitar (along with four bass strings operated with slides), the other combined guitar and the Spanish bandurria, the latter being an instrument Williamson had played since the early days of the Corrie Folk Trio.

Roy Williamson and Ronnie Browne played together as The Corries for 28 years, until Roy died in 1990.

This arrangement is by John G. Slattery.  He followed Angus MacDonald as Pipe Major of the Scots Guard.  He attended Queen Victoria School Dunblane and was taught piping by PM James Sanderson of the Cameronians.

 

Lyrics by Roy Williamson

O Flower of Scotland,
When will we see
Your like again,
That fought and died for,
Your wee bit Hill and Glen,
And stood against him,
Proud Edward's Army,
And sent him homeward,
Tae think again.

The Hills are bare now,
And Autumn leaves
lie thick and still,
O'er land that is lost now,
Which those so dearly held,
That stood against him,
Proud Edward's Army,
And sent him homeward,
Tae think again.

Those days are past now,
And in the past
they must remain,
But we can still rise now,
And be the nation again,
That stood against him,
Proud Edward's Army,
And sent him homeward,
Tae think again.

0 Flower of Scotland,
When will we see
your like again,
That fought and died for,
Your wee bit Hill and Glen,
And stood against him,
Proud Edward's Army,
And sent him homeward,
Tae think again.