A national anthem for Scotland – Bob Murray gets us all thinking

On the 28 November 2016 we gathered at the Clermiston Inn to enjoy a special performance of Bob Murray’s one-man show: A National Anthem for Scotland, in which Bob performs a selection of potential anthems for Scotland and examines the pros and cons of each one alongside discussion of more general issues around national anthems.

For instance what makes a good anthem? Can it be sung easily by amateurs with average vocal range? How will it sound in different settings, e.g. pipe band, small ensemble, a crowd at a stadium, orchestra? How will we choose our anthem? By committee, referendum, TV show? Is copyright an issue? Once you start pondering these questions, the whole concept opens up into a very thought-provoking area.

Bob had time to perform eight candidate songs, selected in random order – these are not an exhaustive list as there are plenty more which might be considered, but the driving message from the performance is that informed consideration of all the many varied aspects of a national anthem is the vitally important thing.

Derek, Diane and Bob
Derek, Diane and Bob – note the range of books available to borrow
  1. Scotland the Brave
  2. Scots Wha Hae
  3. Auld Lang Syne
  4. Hermless
  5. A Man’s A Man For A’ That
  6. God Save The Queen
  7. Flower of Scotland
  8. The Freedom Come All Ye

Huge thanks is due to Bob Murray for performing this show as a fundraiser for Yes Edinburgh West. Very enjoyable and much appreciated.

3 thoughts on “A national anthem for Scotland – Bob Murray gets us all thinking”

  1. Glenn Foster, the music director of a Presbyterian Church in Texas and an American with strong Scottish roots, has tried his hand at writing one, based on “The Bonnie Banks o’ Loch Lomond”.

    This is the single tune most indelibly linked with Scotland, surely a hallmark of a great national anthem. It uses 6/8 time instead of common time – which works well when sung regimentally, as a slower ballad, or anywhere in between.

    The new lyrics, taken as a whole, strike a fair balance between past, present and future.
    It speaks of those things that are nearest and dearest to a true Scot’s heart: freedom, equality, justice, the ability to rise again. It speaks in the plural and in the collective, rather than first person.

    He believes his song can “get people going” on the path to independence.

    What if this song could somehow bring a greater degree of unity in the call for independence?
    What if this song could give voice to those who waver and have not yet joined the cause?
    What if this song actually became the national anthem and it started right here?

    O’er Scotland
    (Sung to the tune of “The Bonnie Banks o’ Loch Lomond)
    By Glenn Edward Foster (copyright 2019)

    By yon bonnie banks and by yon bonnie braes,
    Whaur the sun shines bright o’er Scotland.
    Whaur patriots gather near
    To march without a fear
    And reclaim the hills and glens as their own land.

    And ye’ll tak the high road and I’ll tak the low road.
    Together we will free our nation.
    From England we will break
    And we’ll claim our rightful stake,
    For the future o’ our land and our children.

    The flowers ‘like’ shall bloom and the gowan spreads aroon
    As they aince did in the days o’ proud Edward.
    When Wallace and the Bruce
    Set the warrior‐poets loose
    And sent him thinkin’ as he went hameward.

    We will live the life that’s free.
    In that light, we’ll justice see,
    Wi’ the great and the wee in equal station.
    The future’s ours yet,
    Tho’ the past we’ll no’ forget
    Or the former trials and tribulations.

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