Up and Waur Them A', Willie
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John Renfro Davis


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Lyrics
A set of lyrics and a tune appear in the Scots Musical Museum, Volume II (1788) as Up and warn a' Willie. It was printed earlier in Volume three of Oswald's Caledonian Pocket Companion (1741) under the title of Up and waur them a, Willie.

James Hogg believed that the song was based on the chorus of an older one. He also noted that there was no "Willie" of note in the Jacobite army.*

Thomas Neil, a carpenter in Edinburgh, gave Burns a copy of the song. Burns stated that the expression "Up and warn a', Willie" alluded to the crantara, or warning, of a Highland clan to arms and that Lowlanders of the West use the expression, "Up and waur them, a." Burns adds that the Lowland expression, does not refer to summoning a clan, because "waur" means to surpass or excel at something.**

The Battle of Sheriffmuir took place on November 13, 1715 in the first Jacobite Uprising, where troops of the Earl of Mar met troops commanded by the Duke of Argyle, two miles from the village of Dunblane. There were several hundred casualties on both sides. The battle was a mass of confusion, ending in a draw. It was described in a ballad at the time:
And we ran, and they ran,
And they ran, and we ran,
And we ran, and they ran awa, man.***

For other Jacobite Tunes see The Contemplator's Short History of the Jacobite Uprisings.

When we went to the field of war
and tae the weapon shaw,
Wi' true design to tae serve our king
and chase our faes awa'
Lords and lairds came there bedeen
and wow gin they were sma'
While pipers played fae right to left,
fy, furich whigs awa'.
Up and waur them a', Willie;
Up and waur them a'
Up and sell your sour milk
and dance and ding them a'.


And when our army was drawn up,
The bravest eer I saw
We dinna doubt to rax the rout
And win the day and a'
Oot ower the brae it was nae play
Tae get a better fa'.
While pipers played fae right to left,
Fy furich Whigs awa'.
Up and waur them a', Willie;
Up and waur them a'
Up and sell your sour milk
And dance and ding them a'.


When brawly they attacked our left,
Our front and flank and a'
Our bold commander on the field
Our faes their left did ca'.
And there the greatest slaughter made
That e'er poor Donald saw,
While pipers played fae right to left,
Fy furich Whigs awa'
Up and waur them a', Willie;
Up and waur them a'
Up and sell your sour milk
And dance and ding them a'.


First when they say our Hielan mob,
They swore they'd slay us a'
Yet yin gin fyled his breeks for fear
And so did run awa'
We drove them back tae Bonnybrigs,
Dragoons and foot and a'
While pipers played fae right to left,
Fy furich Whigs awa'.
Up and waur them a', Willie;
Up and waur them a'
Up and sell your sour milk
And dance and ding them a'.


But when their general view our lines
And them in order saw,
He straight did march into the town
And back his left did draw.
Then we taught them the better gate
Tae get a better fa'
While pipers played fae right to left,
Fy furich Whigs awa'.
Up and waur them a', Willie;
Up and waur them a'
Up and sell your sour milk
And dance and ding them a'.


And then we rallied on the hills
And bravely up did draw,
But gin ye spier wha won the day,
I'll tell you what I saw:
We baith did fight and baith were beat
And baith did run awa'
So there's my canty Hielan' song
About the thing I saw.
Up and waur them a', Willie;
Up and waur them a'
Up and sell your sour milk
And dance and ding them a'.


  • Related songs at this site:

  • Related Links
    From **Scots Musical Museum
    ***The Songs of Scotland
    See Bibliography for full information.
    *from The Mudcat Cafe.