Scottish Country Dancing Dictionary

The Fête Champêtre

Scottish Song By Robert Burns

The Fête Champêtre is a Scottish song written by Robert Burns in 1788 during his stay at Ellisland Farm, sung to the tune Killiecrankie.

There is also a Scottish country dance called The Fête Champêtre.


The Fête Champêtre By Robert Burns

O Wha will to Saint Stephen's House,
To do our errands there, man?
O wha will to Saint Stephen's House
O' th' merry lads of Ayr, man?
Or will we send a man o' law?
Or will we send a sodger?
Or him wha led o'er Scotland a'
The meikle Ursa-Major?

Come, will ye court a noble lord,
Or buy a score o'lairds, man?
For worth and honour pawn their word,
Their vote shall be Glencaird's, man.
Ane gies them coin, ane gies them wine,
Anither gies them clatter:
Annbank, wha guessed the ladies' taste,
He gies a Fête Champêtre.

When Love and Beauty heard the news,
The gay green woods amang, man;
Where, gathering flowers, and busking bowers,
They heard the blackbird's sang, man:
A vow, they sealed it with a kiss,
Sir Politics to fetter;
As their's alone, the patent bliss,
To hold a Fete Champetre.

Then mounted Mirth, on gleesome wing
O'er hill and dale she flew, man;
Ilk wimpling burn, ilk crystal spring,
Ilk glen and shaw she knew, man:
She summon'd every social sprite,
That sports by wood or water,
On th' bonie banks of Ayr to meet,
And keep this Fete Champetre.

Cauld Boreas, wi' his boisterous crew,
Were bound to stakes like kye, man,
And Cynthia's car, o' silver fu',
Clamb up the starry sky, man:
Reflected beams dwell in the streams,
Or down the current shatter;
The western breeze steals thro'the trees,
To view this Fete Champetre.

How many a robe sae gaily floats!
What sparkling jewels glance, man!
To Harmony's enchanting notes,
As moves the mazy dance, man.
The echoing wood, the winding flood,
Like Paradise did glitter,
When angels met, at Adam's yett,
To hold their Fete Champetre.

When Politics came there, to mix
And make his ether-stane, man!
He circled round the magic ground,
But entrance found he nane, man:
He blush'd for shame, he quat his name,
Forswore it, every letter,
Wi' humble prayer to join and share
This festive Fete Champetre.


A Fête champêtre was a popular form of entertainment in the 18th century, taking the form of a garden party. This form of entertainment was particularly popular at the French court where at Versailles areas of the park were landscaped with follies, pavilions and temples to accommodate such festivities.

While the term is derived from the French expression for a "pastoral festival" or "country feast" and in theory was a simple form of entertainment, in practice (especially in the 18th century), a fête champêtre was often a very elegant form of entertainment involving on occasions whole orchestras hidden in trees, with guests sometimes in fancy dress.

About Time Painting Image
18th Century Courtiers In Fancy Dress, At A Fête Champêtre In A Landscaped Park
Nicolas Lancret (1690–1743), Oil On Canvas, c. 1730


The Online Scots Dictionary Translate Scots To English.
Published in http://www.robertburns.org/works/228.shtml
Dance Information licensed under this Creative Commons Licence.
Text from this original Fête Champêtre article on Wikipedia.
Image Copyright Zenodot Verlagsgesellschaft mbH [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

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