TANNAHILL WEAVERS LYRICS glossary index leaving st. kilda tannahill weavers
The Wars o' Germany
Lyrics by William Motherwell, melody traditional, arranged by the Tannahill Weavers

The second half of the nineteenth century saw Scottish involvement in the Franco-Prussian war.  Many Scottish regiments, by this time part of a British army, left for the European mainland from the port of Leith, now a district of Edinburgh.

William Motherwell wrote the words for this melody capturing, we feel, the emotion of the situation perfectly.  A situation that has, sadly, been repeated all too often since he wrote them.



O' wae be tae the orders that marched my love awa'
And wae be tae the cruel cause that gars my tears doon fa'
O' wae be tae the bluidy wars in High Germany
For they hae ta'en my love and left a broken heart tae me

The drums came sounding up the street before the screich o' day
And the wee, wee fifes played loud and shrill while yet the morn was grey
And the bonnie flags were a' unfurled a gallant sicht tae see
But wae's me for my sodger lad that marched tae Germany

O' lang, lang is the travel tae the bonnie pier o' Leith
And dreich it is tae gang wi' the snawdrift in the teeth
And o', the cauld wind froze the tear that gathered in my e'e
When I gaed there tae see my love embark for Germany

O' I looked o'er the braid blue sea as far as could be seen
The wee, wee sail upon the ship my sodger lad was in
But o' the wind blew cauld and snell and the ship sailed speedily
And the waves and cruel wars hae twined my winsome lad frae me 




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