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Sir Patrick Spens sung by Ewan MacColl

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Published on Apr 27, 2010

The daddy of all the Scottish ballads. Not the best quality recording, but this is Sir Patrick Spens as it should be heard - thanks to Ewan MacColl.


The King sits in Dunfermline toun
A-drinkin' at the wine
And he has ca'd for the strangest sailor
In Fife and a' the land

Then oot and spak an auld carle
Stood by the King's ain knee
"Patrick Spens is the strangest sailor
That ever sailed the sea"

The King has screevit a lang letter
And signed it wi' his ain haund
And sent it tae young Patrick Spens
Was walkin' on Leith sands

"Tae Norowa, tae Norowa
Tae Norowa ower the faem
The King's dochter o' Norowa
Tis ye maun bring her hame"

When first he lookit this letter on,
A muckle laugh gied he
But e'er he done the readin' o' it,
The saut tear blint his e'e

"Oh wha is this done this foul deed
I pray ye tell tae me
And tho it were my ain faither,
An auld thief may he be.

They hadna been in Norowa
A week but barely three
When a' the lords o' Norowa
Did up and spak sae free

"These outland Scots waste oor King's gowd
An' swallow oor Queen's fee"
"Weary for the tongue that spak'
Sic a muckle lie"

"Tak tent, tak tent, my guid men a'
An' see ye be weel forn
For come it wind or come it hail
Oor guid ship sails the morn"

Then oot and spak the weatherman
"I fear we'll a' be drooned
For I saw the new moon late yestreen
Wi' the auld moon in her airms"

They hadnae sailed a league, a league
A league but barely ane
When the lift grew laich and the wind grew heigh
And the ship it was a wreck

Oh whaur will I get a bonnie boy
Tae tak' my steering haund,
While I climb up the tapmost mast
An' see if I can spy land?

Oh laith, laith were oor guid Scots lairds
Tae wet their cork-heeled shoon
But lang e'er a' the play was done
They wet their hats aboon

O lang, lang will their ladies sit
Wi' their gowd kames in their hands
Before they see young Patrick Spens
Come walkin' on Leith sands

Half owre, half owre f'ae Aberdour
Whaur the sea's sae wide and deep
It's there 'at lies young Patrick Spens
Wi' the Scots lords at his feet

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