O an ye were dead guidman

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O, AN YE WERE DEAD, GUIDMAN. AKA - "O Gin Ye were Dead Gudeman." AKA and see "Highland lad my love was born (A)," "I Wish that You were Dead Good Man," "White Cockade (1) (The)," "Watson's Scots Measure." Scottish, Country Dance (cut time) or Air. F Major (Athole): G Major (Aird, Oswald). Standard tuning (fiddle). AABB. The tune is "Watson's Scotch Measure" associated with a song called "O, an ye were dead gudeman" [Roud 2383] which appears in Gude and Godlie Ballates (1567). Stenhouse, in his notes to The Scots Musical Museum, calls it an "ancient tune" of only one strain, the second strain adapted from James Oswald's variations on the tune (1760). The antiquarian gives the following tune as an example of the original air, "from a very old manuscript in [my] possession":

X:1
%
T:I wish that ye were dead, Gudeman
M:C
L:1/8
N:Stenhouse - from "a very old manuscript"
Z:AK/Fiddler's Companion
K:F
(A>G)|F2F2c2F2|A2G2G2 (A>G)|F2F2c2F2|A2f2 c3c|
c2f2A2c2|(dc)(BA) G2 (A>G)|F2f2 (cd)(cB)|A2F2F2||

"This tune must have been quite common in Scotland long before 1549," Stenhouse writes, "for it is one of the airs to which the Reformers sung one of their spiritual hymns, beginning:

Till our gudeman, till our gudeman,
Keip faith and love till our gudeman;
For our gudeman in heuen does reigne,
In gloir and bliss without ending.

The foolish old verses of the 'profane sang' as it was called, are annexed."

There's sax eggs in the pan, goodman,
There's sax eggs in the pan, goodman;
There's ane to you, and twa to me,
And three to our John Highlandman.

There's beef into the pat, goodman,
There's beef into the pat, goodman;
The banes for you, and the broo' for me,
And the beef for our John Highlandman.

There's sax horse in the stud, goodman,
There's sax horse in the stud, goodman;
There's ane to you, and twa to me,
And three to our John Highlandman.

There's sax kye in the byre, goodman,
There's sax kye in the byre, goodman;
There's nane to you, and twa to me,
And the lave to our John Highlandman

It takes little to imagine which verses of the 'profane sang' Stenhouse omitted. George Farquhar Gramham (Songs of Scotland, 1861, p. 65) notes that "the old air is now sung to the words "There was a lad was born in Kyle." Robert Burns, of course, cleaned up the old Reformers' song and added some more sophisticated lines for the Museum. Glasgow publisher James Aird also printed a more elaborate version of the tune as "Ranting Highlandman (The)," introduced by O'Keefe in his opera The Highland Reel (1788). A Jacobite song set to the melody begins: "My love was born in Aberdeen," but, says Graham, "Herd, who printed it in 1776, was still too near the (Rising of) the '45, and omits all allusion to 'The White Cockade.'" "O gin ye were dead Gude man" was entered by multi-instrumantalist John Rook, of Waverton, Cumbria, in his large 1840 music manuscript collection.

Source for notated version:

Printed sources: Aird (Selections of Scotch, English, Irish and Foreign Airs, vol. 1), 1782; p. 53. Aird (Selections of Scotch, English, Irish and Foreign Airs, vol. 2), 1785; No. 132, p. 49. Oswald (Caledonian Pocket Companion, Book 4), 1760; p. 24. Stewart-Robertson (The Athole Collection), 1884; p. 151.

Recorded sources:




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