“Freedom Come-All-Ye” is a song written by Hamish Henderson, the Scottish poet, songwriter, and intellectual. It is written in the Scots Language. “Freedom Come-All-Ye”, one of Henderson’s most important songs, gives a non-romantic, revisionist view of the role of the Scots in the world at the time it was written. It describes a wind of change blowing through Scotland and the world at large, sweeping away exploitation and imperialism. It renounces the tradition of the Scottish soldier both as imperial cannon-fodder and colonial oppressor, and ends with a vision of a future global society which is multiracial and just.
The song was written in 1960, to an adaptation of the First World War pipe march “The Bloody Fields of Flanders”, which Henderson first heard played on the Anzio beachhead. The lyrics were written following a visit and discussions with Ken Goldstein, an American researcher at the School of Scottish Studies, who had enjoyed Henderson’s rendition of the tune. It was subsequently adopted by Glasgow Peace Marchers CND demonstrators, and the anti-Polaris campaign. A product of the Scottish Folk revival, and originally a sixties protest song, it is still popular in Scotland and overseas. Henderson described it as “expressing my hopes for Scotland, and for the survival of humanity on this beleaguered planet.”
It is viewed by many as Scotland’s ‘alternative’ national anthem (although there is no ‘official’ Scottish anthem). However, Henderson never wanted it to become as he felt that part of its strength lies in the fact that it is an alternative, an “International Anthem”.
The lyrics are written in the Scots language (not misspelled words).
Roch the wind in the clear day’s dawin
Blaws the cloods heilster-gowdie owre the bay
But there’s mair nor a roch wind blawin
Thro the Great Glen o the warld the day
It’s a thocht that wad gar oor rottans
Aa thae rogues that gang gallus fresh an gay
Tak the road an seek ither loanins
Wi thair ill-ploys tae sport an play
Nae mair will our bonnie callants
Merch tae war when oor braggarts crousely craw
Nor wee weans frae pitheid an clachan
Mourn the ships sailin doun the Broomielaw
Broken faimlies in lands we’ve hairriet
Will curse ‘Scotlan the Brave’ nae mair, nae mair
Black an white ane-til-ither mairriet
Mak the vile barracks o thair maisters bare
Sae come aa ye at hame wi freedom
Never heed whit the houdies croak for Doom
In yer hoos aa the bairns o Adam
Will find breid, barley-bree an paintit rooms
When Maclean meets wi’s friens in Springburn
Aa thae roses an geans will turn tae blume
An the black lad frae yont Nyanga
Dings the fell gallows o the burghers doun.
The phrase “come aa ye” is the “come all ye” of the title. Some words are similar (blaws, mak, tak, sailin, blume for: blows, make, take, sailing, bloom). However, other words are more obscure (owre, nae, frae, tae, thae, an, yer, thair, doun, wi, merch, mair, hoos for: over, no, from, to, thy, and, your, their, down, with, march, more, house).