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Scottish Nursery Rhymes and Street Songs

Any child brought up in Scotland will know, off by heartsome of our very favourite nursery rhymes. They were sung to us by our mums and grannies and are an lovely memory of childhood days.

 

They vary throughout Scotland according to tradition and superstition but there are a few that every child within a 100 mile radius of Glasgow will be able to sing. I sang this one to my first grandchild and was absolutely delighted when he could fill in the last words of every line!

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Ally Bally, Ally Bally Bee

Sitting on yer Granny’s knee (it should actually say Yer Mammy’s knee but, youll have to excuse a proud granny a wee bit of artistic license !!!!!)

Greeting for a wee baw-bee

To buy some Coulters Candy

Poor wee Jeanies looking awfy thin

A pickle of bones covered oer wi skin

But noo shes got a wee double chin

From eatin Coulters Candy

Here’s auld Coulter comin round

Wi a basket on his crown

So here’s a penny, now you run down

And buy some Coulters Candy

Ally Bally, Ally Bally Bee

When you grow up you’ll  go to sea

Making pennies for your daddy and me

To buy some Coulters Candy

And as we all got a little older this one fairly amused us. Naughty and funny!

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Oh, ye canny shove yer granny aff a bus

Naw ye canny shove yer granny aff a bus

Ye canny shove yer granny

Cause she’s yer Mammy‘s mammy

Ye canny shove yer granny aff a bus!

Noo ye can shove yer ither granny aff  a bus 

Yes ye can shove yer ither grannie aff a bus

Ye can shove yer ither grannie

Cause she’s just yer daddy‘s mammy

Yes ye can shove yer ither grannie aff a bus!

There are a few more verses to this but I always think you can get the gist of it with these first two!

Then there were the wonderful Glasgow street songsthis next one was always a salutary tale. It has its origins in Duke Street Prison, where, between 1798 and 1955 hundreds of prisoners were housed in apparently terrible conditions.

There is a happy land

Doon in Duke Street Jail

Where a’ the prisoners stand

Tied tae a nail

Ham an eggs, they never see

Durty watter fur their tea

There they stand in misery

God Save The Queen

The funniest one of all for all members of our family was however The Wee Cock Sparrow. When Duncan MacRae sang it for the first time one Hogmanay in the early 1950’s it caused such hilarity in every Scottish home that it became a mainstay of all the  new year celebrations in Scotland for years. Here it is –  enjoy!

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A wee cock sparra sat on a tree

A wee cock sparra sat on a tree

A wee cock sparra sat on a tree

Chirping away as blithe as could be

Alang came a boy wi a bow anan arra

Alang came a boy wi a bow an an arra

Alang came a boy wins bow an an arra

And he said “I’ll get  ye, ye wee cock sparra”

The boy wi the arra let fly at the sparra

The boy wi the arra let fly at the sparra

The boy wi the arra let fly at the sparra

An he hit a man that was hurlin a barra

The man wi the arra came owre wi the arra

The man wi the arra came owre wi the arra

The man wi the arra came owre wi the arra

And said “Ye take me fur a wee cock sparra”

The man hit the boy, tho he wasnae his farra

The man hit the boy, tho he wasnae his farra

The man hit the boy, tho he wasnae his farra

And the boy stood and gloweredhe was hurt tae the marra

And a’ this time the wee cock sparra

And a’ this time the wee cock sparra

And a’ this time the wee cock sparra 

Was chirping awa on the shank o’ the barra

And here are a few wee clarifications for non-natives of Scotland!

Cock Sparra – Boy sparrow

Arra – Arrow

Wasnae – Was not

Farra – Father

Mara – Marrow

Awa – Along

Barra – Barrow

Till next time!

Lorna (Gillians Mammy)

3 comments

  1. Barbara Lankester

    Great! Never seen them written down before. Do you know the words to David millard’s ( ? Miller’s) Cuddy by any chance?!
    Thank you

    1. Gillian Elliott

      Gosh I don’t Barbara, but I’ll ask my Mum Lorna, who originally wrote this blog. She’s the expert!

      Gillian x

  2. Lel Russell

    This is great! I remember some lines to ally Bally different like ‘a bundle o bones wrapped up in skin’ guess wee all had different wee versions, my gran and mum sang it and we’re wear Lothian. I wonder if your mum knows ‘if you should hear the sirens, listen to ma cry, an aeroplane, an aeroplane away up in the sky’ ? My gran used to sing it to us, I think it was about the war and I was searching for its origin and stumbled in this page! Also ‘’jock ma cuddly’ and ‘three craws’ x

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