Flower of Scotland is a very good folk song and deserves to be sung in pubs and at social gatherings, but its theme of gloating about an ancient victory over our nearest neighbour and closest ally would soon become an embarrassment if used as a national anthem.
Apart from its words, the tune, like those of many other national anthems, can be very dreary. The fact that other nations have vengeful and bloodthirsty themes in their anthems is a good reason for Scotland to have a more enlightened approach. Marshall says quite correctly that anthems “represent you to the world” so, as one of the oldest nations on earth, Scotland has many national attributes to call on and should be able to represent itself in a much better manner than by a popular song ritually sung at football matches.
(DR) P M DRYBURGH
Alex Marshall may have written a book about national anthems but has a tin ear regarding Scotland’s current contenders for a National Anthem. He urges us to get on with dignifying Flower of Scotland with that honour just because it has been around for years and is popular on the football and rugby terracing and the pub. Not good enough.
He seems to be ignorant of the tremendous anthem-in-waiting we already have. Scots Wha Hae, with a jauntier tempo and impeccable pedigree – tune probably played at Bannockburn, words by our National Bard – is head and shoulders above other contenders, especially the maudlin dirge he espouses, which usually dribbles away, out of time and tune. Great folk song that may be, but it lacks gravitas and a stirring tempo.
Mr Marshall says “just make the sensible, the only choice”. He is plain wrong on both counts.
He is right on one thing though – worrying about historic warlike sentiments is daft and would rule out many terrific anthems worldwide. No-one imagines they are likely to incite bloodthirsty behaviour in the 21st century.
Although I love Scots Wha Hae – imagine it beginning with a roll of drums and crash of brass – I have come to the conclusion a new anthem would be best, and less divisive, once independence is assured. I do not believe we should be distracted by a debate about it now – even less a “competition” or poll of public opinion. Some things are best left to experts. We have brilliant musicians and poets aplenty.
Coupar Angus, Perthshire