Rebel War Song (The)

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REBEL WAR SONG (Eiridh Na Finnacha' Gaelach). AKA and see "Jacobite War Song (The)." Scottish, March (4/4 time). D Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AABB. Hunter (1979) remarks that the tune is a "well-known Gaelic song praising the Highland clans who joined in the rebellion." Simon Fraser (1816) himself says of this political song (which refers to the Jacobite rebellion of 1715): "There are few collections of Gaelic songs but begin with this rebel war song, so that it is well known, and contains a verse in praise of the virtues and valor of each of the Highland clans who joined in the rebellion, but anticipating more than they seemed capable of performing." The Gaelic verses were written by Isle of Eigg poet Iain Dubh mac Iain mhic Ailein (literally 'Black John son of John son of Allan' or John MacDonald, c. 1665-c. 1725), and begin:

Seo an aimisir do dhearabhadh
An taragaint eachd dhùinn:
Bras meanamanach fir Alaba
Le 'n aramaibh air thùs:
Nuair dh'éireas gach treunlaoch
Le 'n éideadh glan ur.
Le rùn feirige agus gairige
Gu seiribhis a' Chruin.
Nuair théid uaislean nan Gàidheal
Gu dàna anns a' chùis
Gur mairig nàmhaid a thàrladh
Ri àrmainn mo rùin;--
Gur lionmhar lann Spàinteach
Cur sàs air cùl dùirn,--
'S le lùths gàirdein gun geàrrte leibh
Cnàmhan is smúis.

The melody was also used as the vehicle for the song "Sound, Pibroch, Sound," published in songsters of the first half of the 19th century. In Cornelius Soule Cartée's song collection The Souvenier Minstrel: A Choice Collection of the Most Admired Songs (Philadephia, 1833) the music is attributed to "Turnbull", perhaps the John Turnbull who contributed a number of tunes to James Manson's Hamilton's Universal Tune Book vol 1 (1844). However, the tune predates Turnbull.

Sound, Pibroch, sound! on each flame lighted scaur,
The red beacon waves its glad summons to war;
Too long has old Albin been bow'd to the yoke,
Too long ere the pride of the tartan awoke.
Dun Edin shall welcome her monarch again,
We have spurn'd at the Saxon and trampled the chain:
Burst forth in your wrath, and the fight shall be won,
Ere the echoes return to the roar of the gun.

Source for notated version:

Printed sources: Hunter (The Fiddle Music of Scotland), 1988; No. 342. Manson (Hamilton's Universal Tune Book, vol. 1), 1844; p. 49.

Recorded sources:




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