The People Speak: Hamish Henderson ‘Freedom Come-All-ye’ (1960)

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Hamish Henderson’s song ‘Freedom Come-All-Ye’ was written in the spring of 1960 and dedicated to ‘the Glasgow Peace marchers’ against nuclear weapons in Scotland. It takes a historical view of Scottish involvement in British imperial wars, before looking forward to global change, invoking the vision of John Maclean, and justice in South Africa (Nyanga is a South African township).

Roch the wind in the clear day’s dawin

Blaws the cloods heelster-gowdie ow’r the bay

But there’s mair nor a roch wind blawin

Thro the great glen o the warld the day

It’s a thocht that wad gar oor rottans

Aa thae rogues that gang gallus fresh an gay

Tak the road an seek ither loanins

Wi thair ill-ploys tae sport an play

Nae mair will our bonnie callants

Mairch tae war when oor braggarts crousely craw

Nor wee weans frae pit-heid an clachan

Mourn the ships sailin doon the Broomielaw

Broken faimlies in lands we’ve herriet

Will curse ‘Scotlan the Brave’ nae mair, nae mair

Black an white ane til ither mairriet

Mak the vile barracks o their maisters bare

So come a’ ye at hame wi freedom

Never heed whit the houdies croak for doom

In yer hoose a’ the bairns o Adam

Can find breid, barley-bree an painted room

When Maclean meets wi’s friens in Springburn

Aa the roses an geans will turn tae bloom

An a black boy frae yont Nyanga

Dings the fell gallows o the burghers doon.