Weel May the Boatie Row

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WEEL MAY THE BOATIE ROW. AKA and see Boatie Rows (The)." The first strain is shared with several other tunes, including "Lass of Patie's Mill (The)," "Gie the Lasses Mair O't," "Lass that Winna Sit Down (The)," "Lady Dumfries Reel," "Highlander's Farewell (3) (The)." Scottish, Air and Scots Measure (2/4 time). D Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AABBCCDD. "O weel may the boatie row" is a song by "John Ewen, born at Montrose in 1741; died in Aberdeen, October 1821. Burns says of this song: "It is a charming display of womanly affection mingling with the concerns and occupations of life. It is nearly equal to "There's nae Luck about the House" (James Grant Wilson, From Thomas Campbell to Marquis of Lorne, 1876). The first few stanzas go:

O weel may the boatie row,
And better may she speed!
And weel may the boatie row,
That wins the bairns' bread!
The boatie rows, the boatie rows,
The boatie rows indeed;
And happy be the lot of a'
That wishes her to speed!

I cuist my line in Large Bay,
And fishes I caught nine;
There's three to boil, and three to fry,
And three to bait the line.
The boatie rows, the boatie rows,
The boatie rows indeed;
And happy be the lot of a'
That wishes her to speed!

Robert Chambers, in his Scottish Songs Prior to Burns (1890) explains Mr. Ewen of Aberdeen was:

...a dealer in hardware in Aberdeen, who died on the 21st of October 1821, at the age of eighty. He was a native of Montrose, and at his death he destined his entire fortune, of about £16,000, for the founding of a hospital for the nurture and education of poor children in that burgh. It will be learned with surprise, that in this destination he overlooked a daughter who had married, as he probably thought, imprudently – a strange comment of fact upon the sentiment so touchingly indicated in the song. The will, however, was set aside by a decision of the House of Lords.

Source for notated version:

Printed sources: Gow (Complete Repository, Part 4), 1817; p. 8. Johnson (The Scots Musical Museum), vol. 5, No. 427, pp. 438-439.

Recorded sources:




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