Scottish Country Dancing Dictionary

Green Grow The Rashes

Scottish Country Dance Instruction

GREEN GROW THE RASHES (John Black's Daughter) (S8x32) 3C (4C set) Johnson RSCDS Book 12

1- 8 1s dance parallel RSh reels of 3 on own sides
9-16 1s set, turn 2H, 1s facing 2s on sides set and turn 2s with 2H 1½ times
17-24 1M+3s circle 3H round to L end 3s on opposite sides and 1M casts to 2nd place, 1L+3s circle 3H round to right and end 3s own sides and 1L casts to 2nd place
25-32 1s set dance up to top, cast to 2nd place and turn 2H

(MINICRIB, Dance Crib compiled by Charles Upton, Deeside Caledonian Society, and his successors)


Dance Notes

Bars 17-20 circle breaks to allow 3M to dance to 3L's place while 1M+3L continue to dance round. End 1M in 2M's place, 3L in 3M's place. Bars 21-24 danced similarly.

Keith Rose's Crib Diagrams


Dance Instruction Videos

Green Grow The Rashes - Scottish Country Dancing Instruction Video

Dance Information

The title of this dance, Green Grow The Rashes, comes from the Green Grow The Rashes - Song written by Robert Burns (1759 - 1796).

The RSCDS Scottish country dance Green Grow The Rashes is a reconstruction of the country dance published in one of the many collections of dances in the 18th century. The RSCDS attribute the source as John Johnson 1748. Hugh Thurston in his book Scotland's Dances tells us however that Johnson took it word for word from William Walsh's Caledonian Dances, volume 1 of which was also published 1748. Either way, it is a very old country dance.

Green Grow the Rashes O or Green Grow the Rushes O is one of Robert Burns' earliest songs, originally without the final verse. It was song number 77 in the Scots Musical Museum vol 1 (1787). The first two lines of the chorus are taken from a version in Herd's 'Scots Songs', ii, p. 224, 1776, a song entitled "Green grows the Rashes" which was more risqué, including a reference to a parson kissing the fiddler's wife.

Green Grow the Rashes O has a traditional Scottish tune, a strain of which is believed to exist in written record in an earlier tune, "A dance. grein greus ye rasses" (A dance: Green grow the rashes), Straloch Lute manuscript, 1627-29. By the time Burns wrote his piece, the modern form of the tune was established and appeared in collections of music as (The) Grant's Rant, John Black's Daughter, Lucky Black's Daughter, Foot's Vagaries, and Green Grows the Rashes, and Burns himself refers to "the merry old tune of that name" (Green Grows the Rashes).

The tune appears in William MacGibbon in Book 1 of Scots Tunes 1742 as Green Grows the Rashes (to be played slow). Tunearch.org tells us that the tune was originally a rant but "in the transition the rant form was dropped and a strathspey rhythm was substituted, a not uncommon fate of rants [a rant typically has two sixteenth notes and an eighth note, usually occurring on the first beat of the bar - see the Gow and Stewart-Robertson versions]".

According to Robert P. Irvine, Selected Poems and Songs By Robert Burns, Oxford University Press, in Burns' time the tune was mostly used for bawdy lyrics. The collection The Merry Muses of Caledonia (1799) had two sets of ribald verses- one collected by Burns and the other thought to be devised by him. These are not the verses now preserved in the well-known song of Burns, Green Grow the Rashes O, which are a more decorous celebration of the pleasures of the flesh over materialism.

One of the stanzas from the full Green Grow The Rashes - Song tells us:

The war'ly race may riches chase
An' riches still may fly them, O
An' tho' at last they catch them fast
Their hearts can ne'er enjoy them, O

On BBC Radio Four's Desert Island Discs, Liz Lochead, Scotland's Makar, or National Poet of Scotland, 2011-16, chose Green Grow the Rashes O, sung by Michael Marra, as the piece of music she would save from the waves.

Green Grow The Rashes Song - Information Video

Poetical Works And Letters Of Robert Burns Image
The Poetical Works And Letters Of Robert Burns, c. 1869


Image Copyright Burns, Robert, 1759-1796 [No restrictions], via Wikimedia Commons.

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