Robert Dow (Letters, 30 July) may be in a small minority if he “disapproves of national anthems in principle”, but is correct to challenge the Commonwealth Games organisers who impertinently dubbed Flower of Scotland our national anthem.
Included in that condemnation I would – with much regret – add the supine failure of the Scottish Government to sort this out long ago.
It has a dismal tempo, cringe-making lyrics and – ironically, given that it is so popular with “patriotic” Scots Unionists – is boastful and very anti-English in sentiment.
If we must glorify a historic struggle for national freedom – and many nations proudly do that (without implying that violence is appropriate in the 21st century) – then Scots Wha Hae (with brisker tempo) magnificently fits the bill. But in an independent Scotland – or even the spurious devo-maxed one “promised” by the No camp – a noble, spirited and dignified anthem will be required tout suite, a new one if necessary.
Perth and Kinross
Whatever the merits or otherwise of both Flower of Scotland and Scots Wha Hae as putative Scottish national anthems I fear Robert Dow has seriously misrepresented the true meaning of the lyrics of both songs.
In the first instance, I am at a loss to comprehend his complete failure to detect “a positive forward vision for the country” in the song’s lyrics, especially in the verse beginning “Those days are passed now/ And in the past they must remain” – with reference to the unavoidably violent medieval struggle for independence – and in the ensuing metaphorical conclusion: “But we can still rise now/ And be the nation again.”
As an enthusiastic Yes supporter in the context of the forthcoming referendum, I regard that aspiration as an entirely positive prospect.
Moreover, to dismiss Scots Wha Hae – Robert Burns’ poetic representation of “Bruce’s Address to his troops at Bannockburn” as “nothing more than a call to arms” – is to seriously under-rate its wider political significance as a paean in praise of liberty, individual as well as national, as reflected in the lines: “Lay the proud usurpers (plural) low / Tyrants (plural) fall in every foe.”
Mr Dow should bear in mind that these words of Burns were written in 1793 in the aftermath of the French Revolution and against the background of the early Scottish Radical movement, led by Thomas Muir, the father of Scottish democracy, and that the Bard himself indicated in a letter to his publisher that in writing the words of the song he had been inspired not just by “the accidental recollection of that glorious struggle for freedom” but by “the glowing ideas of some other struggles of the same nature, not quite so ancient”.
IAN O BAYNE