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Birnie Bouzle

[ Roud 3343 ; G/D 4:876 ; Ballad Index BrBrBirn ; Bodleian Roud 3343 ; trad.]

Norman Buchan published Birnie Bouzle in ca 1959 in The Scotsman and included it in 1962 in his book 101 Scottish Songs and in 1973 in The Scottish Folksinger. He noted:

I first heard this sung by Isabel Sutherland. She had learned it from the singing of Aggie Stewart of Banff. Visiting Aggie in 1960, I was glad to be able to collect two additional verses. The song evidently stems from the Birnie Bouzle of James Hogg, but it has changed and developed considerably by oral transmission.

Gordeanna McCulloch sang The Kirk o' Birnie Bouzle in 1965 on the Topic anthology New Voices from Scotland. This track was also included in 1997 on the CD reissue of her album Sheath and Knife. She also sang it on the 1977 soundtrack album from Jean Readpath's BBC television series Ballad Folk. Arthur Argo and Peter Hall noted on her original recording:

This song, collected from Aggie Stewart of Banff, evidently stems from the Birnie Bouzle of James Hogg. The tune has changed, developed and improved considerably by oral transmission.

Cilla Fisher and Artie Trezise sang Birnie Bouzle in 1976 on their eponymous Autogram album, Cilla Fisher and Artie Trezise.

Battlefield Band sang Birnie Bouzle in 1977 on their eponymous Topic album Battlefield Band. They noted:

James Hogg wrote the original words of this song but country singers have altered them a good deal. This version mainly comes from Aggie Stewart of Banff. The tender words are successfully matched with the tune, which consists of the first two parts of the strathspey Struan Robertson's Rant.

Jean Redpath sang Birnie Bouzle on her 1978 album Song of the Seals. She noted:

Birnie Bouzle is probably related to a song by James Hogg, the Ettrick Shepherd though changed and developed considerably by oral transmission. In present day Aberdeen there is a series of streets called Birnie Bouzle which have presumably been built over the original houses. The name shows up again in the bothy ballad MacFarlane o' the Sprots o' Burnieboosie by George Bruce Thomson (1864-1914).

Drinkers Drouth sang Birnie Bouzle on their 1982 album When the Kye Comes Hame. This was also included in 2001 on their Greentrax anthology A Tribute.

Isla St Clair sang The Kirk o' Birniebouzle on the 1977 soundtrack album of her BBC Radio 2 series, Tatties & Herrin': The Land.

Heather Heywood sang Birnie Bouzle in 2000 on her Tradition Bearers album Lassies Fair and Laddies Braw. She noted:

When I sing this song, Gordeanna McCulloch is the singer in my mind although I am not sure if I learned it from her. In the song, the man is trying to impress a girl with promises of a happy life if he marries her at the Kirk of Birnie Bouzle.

Janice Clark sang Birnie Bouzle live at St Andrew's in the Square, Glasgow, during Celtic Connections 2017. This was included in the same year on the TMSA DVD 101 Scottish Songs: The Wee Red Book 2.

Findlay Napier and Gillian Frame sang Burnie Bushel on their 2020 album of songs from Norman Buchan's The Scotsman articles, The Ledger.

Lyrics

Aggie Stewart sings Birnie Bouzle

Gin ye’ll mairry me, lassie.
At the kirk o’ Birnie Bouzle,
Till the day ye dee, lassie,
Ye will ne’er repent it.

Ye will wear when ye are wed
A kirtle an’ a Hieland plaid,
An’ sleep upon a heather bed,
Sae couthy an’ sae canty.

Ye will gang saw braw, lassie,
Tae the kirk o’ Birnie Bouzle,
Little brogues an’ a’, lassie,
Vow, but ye’ll be canty.

Your wee bit tocher is but sma’,
But hodden grey will wear for a’,
I ’ll save ma siller tae mak’ ye braw
An’ ye will ne’er repent it.

Gin ye’ll mairry me, lassie,
At the kirk o’ Birnie Bouzle,
Till the day ye dee, lassie,
Ye will ne’er repent it.

We’ll hae bonny bairns an’ a’,
Some lassies fair an’ laddies braw
Just like their mither ane an’ a’,
An’ your faither he’s consented.

Gin ye’ll mairry me, lassie.
At the kirk o’ Birnie Bouzle,
Till the day ye dee, lassie.
Ye will ne’er repent it.

I’ll hunt the otter an’ the brock,
The hart, the hare, an’ heather cock.
I’ll pu’ ye limpets frae the rock
Tae mak’ ye dishes dainty.

Gin ye’ll mairry me, lassie,
At the kirk o’ Birnie Bouzle,
Till the day ye dee, lassie,
Ye will ne’er repent it.

Findlay Napier and Gillian Frame sing Burnie Bushel

Gin ye’ll marry me lassie
At the kirk o’ Burnie Bushel
‘Till the day ye dee lassie
Ye will ne’er repent it

Ye will wear when ye are wed
A kirtle and a heiland plaid
And sleep upon a heather bed
Sae couthy an’ sae canty

Ye will gang sae braw lassie
Tae the kirk o Birnie Bushel
Little brogues an’ a’ lassie
Vow but ye’ll be canty

A’ll hunt the otter an’ the brock
The hart, the hare, the heather cock
A’ll pu’ ye limpets frae the rock
Tae mak the dishes dainty

Gin ye’ll marry me lassie
At the kirk o’ Burnie Bushel
‘Till the day ye dee lassie
Ye will ne’er repent it

Gin ye’ll marry me lassie
At the kirk o’ Burnie Bushel
‘Till the day ye dee lassie
Ye will ne’er repent it