The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #4640   Message #551609
Posted By: Malcolm Douglas
16-Sep-01 - 12:33 PM
Thread Name: Lyr Req: Montrose (Steeleye Span)
Subject: Lyr Add: MONTROSE (Rick Kemp of Steeleye Span)
Three years on, this has turned up in the  Unanswered Requests  thread, so here it is.  To be honest, I think it's rather poorly written, but nowadays it's far more easily found than when this request was originally made.  The transcription below is from the Steeleye Span Lyrics Page.  I have no idea if it is accurate or not.


(Written by Rick Kemp, c. 1978. The "chorus" and a few other lines are taken from the song My Dear and Only Love, attributed to James Graham, Marquis of Montrose, 1614-1650).

When James the King ruled by sceptered crown
With bishops and pen from London town
And the sword could ne'er bring Scotland down,
Where the cold north wind creeps through the dawn,
At old Montrose on a winter's morn,
The poor fells only son was born.
And he grew strong and he grew stern,
Of books and knowledge he would learn
And so to Glasgow he must turn.

For truth and valour he was named
For bowmanship he was acclaimed
And the silver arrow he did gain
First through France then to London town
This noble youth did proudly ride
With his good bow strapped in behind

Then his King's favour he has sought
But slander brought it all to nought
To Scotland he's fled back from court.
But new King Charles, so ill advised
By Hamilton and Laud likewise,
Scotland they betrayed by lies.
With papacy and bad intent,
A new fair buck to Scotland sent
To control the Kirk was his intent

Robbers raged around St.Giles against the King's churchmen,
But Montrose spoke above them all, the people's love to win.
So Jamie joined the Covenants, for war they did prepare
And he rode north to Huntly's house but found no welcome there.
So the gay red Gordon ribbons they chased around the land
Until at Inverurie Lord Huntly signed his hand.
So Montrose rode to Aberdeen where the Covenant held sway
To speak the King at Berwick, a truce was signed that day.
But the grim journey the ministers put Montrose in a cell
And there he thought to serve Scotland and serve his King as well.
Meanwhile down south in England the civil war began,
So Montrose rode to London town to parley with the King.
For a thousand men he pleaded to save his fair Scotland,
But he returned a general without a single man.

The giant Macdonald Alastair with sixteen hundred men
From Ireland sailed to join Montrose and plunder Campells glen.
Montrose the small united force of Gaelic men did yaw
Against seven thousand Covenant on the field of Tippermuir.


I'll serve thee in such noble ways was never heard before
I'll crown and deck thee with all bays and love thee more and more

With stones and bows, the screaming clans put Covenant to flight
That Sabbath day at Tippermuir was such a bloody sight,
Then marching north to Aberdeen where treasure could be found
The soldiers fought for bounty there while James fought for the crown


His army now three thousand strong, he was resolved to go
To meet the Campbell in his lair through all the winter snow
King Campbell sailed from his castles throne as Montrose pipes drew near
No refuge from the Lord on earth, no pity for Campbell's fear


With Campbell lands all wasted, Montrose was forced to guess
To fight Argyll or Lord Seaforth on the road to Inverness.
It came to pass that Campbell's might was smashed on Loch Eils shore
And the terror of Clan Diarmaid will hold the glens no more


At Auldearn, Alford and Kilsyth, the royal standard shone,
As Alexander he did reign and he did reign alone,
Then Montrose entered Glasgow with Scotland at his feet,
But the power could not be broken or the ministers relieved


Soon the year of miracles, like the slowly setting sun,
Was melting now before his eyes, all he could do was done.
At Philiphaugh and Carbisdale when fortune did turn cold,
A cloud of devils at the gate showed James the road somehow.


The judges passed their cruel sentence, traitors laughed and jeered.
He stood unmoved in stately calm and spoke quite unafraid,
Nail my head on yonder tower, give every town a limb
And God who made shall gather there, I go from you to him.
As he turned from out the Hall, clouds left the sky,
To battle he has never walked more proudly than to die.

They set him high upon a cart, the hangman rode below,
There stood the Whig and west country lords in balcony and bowed
They brought him to the water gate, he looked so great and high,
So noble was his manly frame, so clear his steadfast life.

The rebel rout forbore to shout and each man held his breath,
For well they knew he who rode so was face to face with death,
Loving Scotland and his King, he went to death that morn,
A shudder ran across the sky, the word that death was done.

Chorus (x2)

The above was originally released on Steeleye Span's Live At Last (Chrysalis CHR 1199, LP, UK, 1978).  I have no idea what tune or combination of tunes was used for it.  See Bruce Olson's earlier posts in this thread for more on James Graham's song.