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The Shuttle Rins

[ Roud - ; Henry Syme (1849)]

Gordeanna McCulloch sang The Shuttle Rins in 1997 on her Greentrax album In Freenship’s Name. She noted:

I learned this song some years ago for a concert organised by Danny Kyle as part of the Paisley 500 celebrations. I have rarely sung it since, as I have difficulty maintaining the pace I feel is necessary. The song itself, which conveys a strong sense of fellowship and humanity, has always appealed to me. Here the clarsach and fiddle emulate the rhythm of the loom and allow me to give freer expression to the words.

Robyn Stapelton sang The Shuttle Rins on her 2015 album of songs of the Scottish and Irish folk traditions, Fickle Fortune. She noted:

This song was written by Henry Syme in 1849, at a time when working conditions were changing rapidly for the hand-loom weavers, due to industrialisation. I first heard this song from the singing of Gordeanna McCulloch. The tune is from the traditional song, The Boatie Rows.

Fiona Ross sang The Shuttle Rins in 2017 on her Tradition Bearers album with Tony McManus, Clyde’s Water. She noted:

Not only is Gordeanna McCulloch one of my favourite Scots singers, but when I moved to Australia, she continued to send me a wealth of songs and ballads to learn and sing, this being one of them. Originally published in Syme’s Poems and Songs Chiefly for the Encouragement of the Working Classes (1849), Gordeanna sourced it from The Scottish Folksinger (1973). I often think of Gordeanna when I sing The Shuttle Rins, not least by association with its emphasis on community and social justice.


Fiona Ross sings The Shuttle Rins

The weaver’s wife sits at the fire
And ca’s the pirn wheel
She likes to hear her ain guid man
Drive on the shuttle wheel

Thread after thread maks up the claith
Until the wage he wins
And ilka weaver maks the mair
The mair his shuttle rins

Chorus (after each verse):
The shuttle rins, the shuttle rins
The shuttle rins wi speed
Oh sweetly may the shuttle rin
That wins the bairn’s bread

He rises early in the morn
And toils fu late at night
He fain would independent be
He kens what is his richt

He fondly soothes a neibour’s grief
Or shares a neibour’s glee
And fain tae gie his bairns lair
He gars the shuttle flee

State cormorants may craw fu crouse
And haughty be and proud
But were they paid by “ells o keels”
They widnae laugh sae loud

The proudest o the land wad pine
Wi oot the weaver’s wark
The pamper’d priest, the haughty peer
Would gang wi oot a sark

Then cheer yer herts ye workin men
And all like brithers be
Rouse up against restrictive laws
And set industry free