Beggar's Bennison

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BEGGAR'S BENNISON. AKA - "Thannie na buecht horo." Scottish, Strathspey (cut time). D Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AAB. Musicologist John Glen finds the tune first published by Angus Cumming in his posthumous 1780 collection (p. 14). Little is known about Cumming, although he was a violinist and composer who resided at Grantown, in Strathspey, and who flourished in the mid-latter 18th century. Michael Newton, writing in his blog "The Origins of the Strathspey: A Rebuttal" [1] believes the correct Scots Gaelic title of Cumming's "Thannie na buecht horo " should be "Thàini na bodaich, ho r ó."

The Beggar’s Benison [2] “was a Scottish gentlemen’s club devoted to “the convivial celebration of male sexuality”, it’s full title being "The Most Ancient and Most Puissant Order of the Beggar’s Benison and Merryland, Anstruther." It was founded in 1732 in the Fifeshire town of Anstruther on the Firth of Forth. Benison means ‘blessing’ and, according to legend, the lusty James was carried over a burn, as was customary, by a local beggar maid. He paid for her help with a generous gold sovereign (for which she may have 'aided' in other ways, some versions of the story go). In return she gave him her benison:

May your purse ne’er be toom [empty]
And your horn aye [always] in bloom.

The club’s motto thus became, “May prick nor purse ne’er fail you."

Source for notated version:

Printed sources: Cumming (Collection of Strathspey or Old Highland Reels), 1780; No. 42, p. 14.

Recorded sources:




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