In Freenship's Name

Here aroon the ingle blazing, wha sae happy and sae free,
Though the northern winds blaw freezy, freenship warms baith you and me.

Happy we've been aa thegither, canty we've been yin and aa.
Time shall see us aa mair blyther, ere we rise tae gang awa'

See the miser ower his treisure, gloatin wi a greedy ee,
Wha can fill his woes wi pleisure, as aroond us here we see?

Can the peer in silk and ermine, ca his conscience half his ain?
His claes are edged and spun wi vermin though he sits upon a throne.

Thus then let us aa be tassin, though ower the stoops o generous fame.
And while roon the board is passin, raise a sang in freenship's name.

Freenship … maks us aa mair happy, freenship ... gies us aa delight.
Freenship consecrates the drappie, freenship brocht us here the night.

Board: table
Canty: cheerful
Fame: foam
Ingle: open hearth, fireside
Stoop, stoup: flagon, tankard or the measure of drink contained
Tassin: drinking from the tass, cup for spirits
Yin: one

This song was brought to us by Gordeanna McCulloch who told us that it was made popular in the Folksong Revival of the 60s through the singing of Willie Scott, the Border Shepherd. She explained that in verse two, some people sang “Glutton wi a greedy ee” as Willie Scott did, while others sang “Gloating” as it appears in Lyric Gems. Sangschule went with “Gloating”

She also helped us to make sense of verse 4, beginning “Thus then let us a’ be tassin” and suggested that though the “tass” might be meant for wine or spirits, ordinary folk could enjoy drinking “stoops o generous fame” – jugs or flagons of foaming ale.

Willie Scott was befriended by singer Alison McMorland whose book Herd Laddie of the Glen: songs of a Border shepherd records his life and repertoire of songs. Geordie McIntyre who wrote the notes for the 2006 revised version of Herd Laddie of the Glen, points out that where Lyric Gems has 4 verses and chorus, Willie had an extra verse, verse 3 “Can the peer in silk and ermine”.

“In Freenship’s Name” appears in Lyric Gems, Series 2, (1856) as “Here around the ingle bleezin”. The air is given as “Willie was a wanton wag” but this is not Willie Scott’s tune. It is also interesting (if confusing) to note that in Lyric Gems, the 2nd line of verse four is given as ‘Aff oor stoops o’ gen’rous flame’ – not fame. The folk process at work.