It was with some mystification a week ago that I almost heard an unfamiliar song being voiced before a Six Nations rugby fixture as the Scottish anthem.
It definitely was not Scots Wha Hae.
Subsequently, Scotland lost the match as ignominiously as possible.
Permit me to suggest the wrong tone was set at the start by the song, and that future fixtures should be preceded by the older anthem, rather than Flower of Scotland (assuming that is the song I nearly heard).
I’ve nothing against the newfangled anthem’s music, not yet having heard it.
But its lyrics, if the internet doesn’t lie, seem wrong for Scotland on three grounds at least:
First, they’re younger than I, and therefore lack venerability in a land whose memory of itself covers (or should cover, if the kids learned history) millennia.
Second, as poetry they fall embarrassingly short of the muses of Burns and Scott, and indeed of Kenny McKellar, with whom they are contemporaneous.
If Scotland needs a modern anthem, wouldn’t The Road to Dundee speak better of the country?
Third, by triumphalistic invocation of a Scottish victory, the new anthem violates a tradition of Scots identity: valiant and unflagging effort though faced with certain defeat.
No side’s pride should be raised before a fight to the point at which they think their victory inevitable.
Scotland has seen enough of boorish Americans trying to push things their way lately, so I’m sensitive to my lack of standing to argue in this matter, except as someone who was raised to be proud of his Caledonian antecedents, and who actually has sung along with Scots Wha Hae.