The Smith's a Gallant Fireman

On Springthyme SPRCD 1029
Billy Ross & John Martin - Braes of Lochiel

Billy Ross: vocal, guitar; John Martin: fiddles

The blacksmith enjoyed high status in rural society as the epitome of manliness and moral integrity. The tongue twisting set of words was written in the mid 1800's by John Harrison of Forglen in Aberdeenshire to a much older traditional dance tune that is still popular today. Harrison started life as a farm labourer but later moved to Edinburgh where he worked for Blackie the publisher. We used the song as the theme music for a BBC Scotland production of the same name.

1: Wha's king o oor toon and keeps the lads in awe man?
Wha has lasses nine or ten when some hae nane at aa man?
Wha can mak us deftly dance till we be like tae fa man,
Wheneer the music o his pipes is heard in cot or ha man?

2: Wha but Rab the village smith? I wonder that ye speir man,
Whaur hae ye been aa your days when this ye dinna hear man?
He's knicht o war and lord o love and king o aa the shire man,
At feast or fray by nicht or day the smith's a gallant fireman.

3: Wha could spend or spare a plack and aye hae twa behind it,
Gie a friend a helping hand and never care the mind it?
Wha for honour's sacred cause and honest independence,
Like steadfast rock would daur the shock o aa the world's vengeance?

4: Wha but Rab wi heart in hand tho clad in rude attire man,
Iron will and stern resolve nae mair does he require man,
He bends thae bars o iron as gin they were but wire man,
Depending aye upon hissel the smith's a gallant fireman.

5: Wha would be a lordling's slave, a thing withoot a name man?
Wha would beg frae ither folk what he might hae at hame man?
Wha would squander aa his gear and syne gie fate the blame man?
The growin grass abune his grave would aa turn red wi shame man.

6: Let folk deride and ca it pride be it mine tat still aspire man,
Wha wouldnae walk the road deserves tae dree in the mire man,
Let moral dignity and worth your hearts and souls inspire man,
Let honour pay where honour's due, the smith's a gallant fireman.

daur dare; dree - suffer; pluck-small coin; speir - ask
Traditional arranged by Billy Ross & John Martin
Springthyme Music © 1990