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Lyr Req: Braw Lads o' Gala Water

22 Nov 98 - 02:04 AM (#46431)
Subject: Braw Lads o' Gala Water--lyrics
From: Rab

Help---need lyrics of the Braw Braw Lads of Gala water

22 Nov 98 - 11:33 AM (#46460)
From: Philippa

from Ewan MacColl, ed., "Folk Songs and Ballads of Scotland". New York: Oak Publications,1965

Braw, Braw Lads o' Gala Water,
Bonnie lads o' Gala Water;
I'll kilt my coats abune my knee,
And follow my love through the water;
Braw, braw lads.

Lothian lads are black as de'ils,
And Selkirk lads are no' much better;
I'll kilt my coats abune my knee
And follow the lad o' Galla Water;
Braw, Braw lad.

It's ower the moss and doon yon glen,
And o'er the bonnie blooming heather,
Nicht or day he bears the gree,
The bonnie lad o' Galla Water;
Braw, Braw lad.

Corn Rigs are fine and bonnie,
A block o' sheep is muckle better,
The wind will shake a field of oats,
While lambs are frisklin' in Galla Water;
Braw, Braw lads.

Adieu, soor plooms o' Galashiels,
Tae you my faither, here's a letter;
It's I'm awa' wi' the black herd lad
To bide wi' him in Galla Water;
Braw, Braw lad.

-Ossian have a nice recording of the song on "St Kilda Wedding" album, Temple Records, Scotland

If you have trouble with the dialect see:

If any reader has Scots lyrics for "the Bonnie Lass o' Gala Water" which goes to the same tune as Braw Lads..., please post it here.

I did an AltaVista search for "Gala Water" and came up with several midi sites giving the tune only; it's popular with pipe bands and maybe with céilidh bands also.

HTML line breaks added. --JoeClone, 9-Jan-02.

22 Nov 98 - 03:28 PM (#46475)
From: Bruce O.

Betsy Miller (Ewan MacColl's mother) the above version a version on Folk-Lyric FL 116.

Here's a version from 'The Scots Musical Museum', #125. The text varies only slightly from one in Herd's 'Scots Songs' 1776 (without music). The tune had earlier been called "Coming through the broom", and the song is called "Down among the Broom" in 'The Scots Vocal Miscellany', 1780. It's called "Galla Water" in 'The Goldfinch', Glasgow, c 1780, but the last two lines are given there as "The lassie lost her silken snood, That gar'd her greet till she was weary". "Bonnie Lass o' Galla Water" in Chambers' 'Songs of Scotland Prior to Burns' seems to be derived from the 1st 3 verses of this. The "Braw, braw lass of Galla water" in Seeger and MacColl's 'The Singing Island' is almost the same as that below with 'lass' substituted for 'lads'.

Braw, braw lads of Galla water.

Braw, braw lads of Galla water,
O! braw lads of Galla water:
I'll kilt my coats aboon my knee,
And follow my love thro' the water.

Sae fair her hair, sae brent her brow,
Sae bonny blue her een, my dearie;
Sae white her teeth, sae sweet her mou',
The mair I kiss, she's ay my dearie.

O'er yon bank, and o'er yon brae,
O'er yon moss amang the heather:
I'll kilt my coat aboon my knee,
And follow my love thro' the water.

Down amang the broom, the broom,
Down amang the broom, my dearie.
The lassie lost her silken snood,
That cost her mony a blirt and bleary

T:Braw, braw lads of Gallawater
S:SMM #125
K:A mixolydian
F(E3/4D/4)D3/2F/|A3/2B/ (A/4F3/4) .E3/4D/4|F3/2E/EF3/4A/4|\
B3/4A/4 d3/4c/4{c/}B.Az/4A/4|A3/2(B/4c/4)d3/2e/|\
f3/4e/4d/ B/d3/2F/|FE3/4F/4EF3/4A/|B3/4A/ d3/4c/{c/}BA/z/||]

There's more than song involving "the lassie lost her silken snood" (e.g., Twine weel the plaiden) and "Low down in the broom", but none that I've seen seems to be connected to this. 'Sour Plums of Gallashiels', mentioned in the MacColl-Miller version is old Scots tune for which no original verses seem to be known. We could use Murray S's help here in sorting out songs and tunes with overlapping lines.

22 Nov 98 - 08:38 PM (#46508)
Subject: RE: Braw Lads o' Gala Water
From: John in Brisbane

I would have sworn that this was in the DT - but I certainly can't find it - just a nagging thought though.

Regards John

23 Nov 98 - 01:50 AM (#46546)
Subject: RE: Braw Lads o' Gala Water
From: Mo

The Corries did a version of this too which starts

There's Braw braw lads on Yarrow Braes, That roam amang the blooming heather, But Yarrow braes, nor Ettrick Shaws, Can match the lads of Gala Water - Braw, braw lads.

Can't remember the rest at the moment - but I can look it up later if you want.


21 Dec 98 - 09:45 AM (#50438)
From: skw@

Philippa, I've finally managed to read your post through. Here are the words of the 'Bonnie Lass o' Gala Water' as sung by The McCalmans. Sorry for the delay. - Susanne

Bonnie lass o' Gala Water, braw braw lass o' Gala Water
I would range the mountains sae deep wi' you bonnie lass o' Gala Water

Sae fair her hair, sae brent her brow, sae bonnie blue her een and cheerie
Oh I would go the length o' the Isle tae get back home wi' my dearie

O'er yonder moor, o'er yonder mountain, o'er yon bonnie hills taegither
O I would range themountains o' time my own bonnie lass tae forgather

Lords and lairds came here tae woo, and gentlemen wi' sword and dagger
But the black eyed lass o' Galashiels would hae nane but the gree o' Gala Water

23 Dec 98 - 12:07 PM (#50661)
Subject: RE: Braw Lads o' Gala Water
From: Philippa

Thanks SKW@. There's a translation of your lyrics as

"Vuni hor ma laska miva" by Jan Lastovicka at

and under 'Gala Water' thread, 5 Dec.

28 Feb 01 - 04:11 AM (#407823)
Subject: RE: Braw Lads o' Gala Water
From: GUEST,Bruce O.

I've found I have a long text from a MS of c 1785, which like that from Betsy Miller, has "sour plums of Galashiels" and other references to Galashiels in it. That's a stumper. "Sour plums of Galasheils" is an earlier tune for which the original song appears to be lost. It doesn't look to me anything like the tune for "Braw, braw lads". I've added the MS song to that of Betsy Miller, and that in SMM to the Scarce Songs 2 file on my website, along with ABCs for the SMM tune and "Sour plums of Galashiels".

17 Oct 11 - 10:14 PM (#3240582)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Braw Lads o' Gala Water
From: ollaimh

does anyone have the version of lyrics to galla water sung by ossian on their st kilda\s wedding album?

18 Oct 11 - 11:11 AM (#3240781)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Braw Lads o' Gala Water
From: Santa

There's a fine coincidence. I was about to come on to ask for the McCalmans' words, which I was hearing as either
Raise the mountains....or raze the mountains
Either of which would have been a fine expression of the depth of feeling the lad had, but I suspect range is right.

I did wonder about "raid", but that would perhaps be too traditional?

18 Oct 11 - 12:18 PM (#3240813)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Braw Lads o' Gala Water
From: michaelr

"range" as posted above.

22 Oct 11 - 10:19 AM (#3243025)
Subject: Lyr Add: GALA WATER (from Chambers, 1829)
From: Jim Dixon

From The Scottish Songs, Volume 2 edited by Robert Chambers (Edinburgh: William Tait, 1829), page 665:

Tune—Gala Water.

Out ower yon moss, out ower yon muir,
Out ower yon bonnie bush o' heather!
O all ye lads, whae'er ye be,
Show me the way to Gala Water.

[CHORUS] Braw, braw lads o' Gala Water,
Bonnie lads o' Gala Water;
The Lothian lads maun ne'er compare
Wi' the braw lads o' Gala Water.

At Nettlie-flat we will begin,
And at Halltree we'll write a letter;
We'll down by the Bower, and take a scour,
And drink to the lads o' Gala Water.

There's Blindlie and Torwoodlee,
And Galashiels is muckle better;
But young Torsonce he bears the gree
Of a' the Pringles o' Gala Water.

Buckham is a bonnie place;
But Appletree-leaves is muckle better;
But Cockleferry bears the gree
Frae ilka laird on Gala Water.

Lords and lairds came here to woo,
And gentlemen wi' sword and dagger;
But the black-eyed lass o' Galashiels
Wad hae nane but the gree o' Gala Water.

Lothian lads are black wi' reek,
And Teviotdale lads are little better;
But she's kiltit her coats abune her knee,
And gane wi' the lad o' Gala Water.

Though corn-rigs are gude to see,
Yet flocks o' sheep are muckle better;
For oats will shake in a windy day,
When the lambs will play in Gala Water.

Adieu, sour plooms o' Galashiels,
Farewell, my father and my mother;
For I'll awa' wi' the black herd lad
Wha keeps his flocks on Gala Water.

[LAST CHORUS] Braw, braw lads o' Gala Water,
Bonnie lads o' Gala Water!
Let them a' say what they will,
The gree gaes aye to Gala Water.*

* If this song be (what it probably is) the first song written to the tune of Gala Water, we must conclude that the celebrity of that district of Scot, land in iong and music, has been entirely owing to the charms of one bonnie lass. So much may one person do for a country.