Scottish Country Dancing Dictionary

The Gentle Shepherd

Scottish Comedy By Allan Ramsay

The Gentle Shepherd is a pastoral comedy by Allan Ramsay (1686-1758), a Scottish poet (or makar), playwright, publisher, librarian, and impresario of early Enlightenment Edinburgh. It was first published in 1725 and dedicated to Susanna Montgomery, Lady Eglinton, to whom Ramsay gifted the original manuscript.

The play has some happy descriptive scenes and is a pleasant delineation of rustic manners in the countryside of the Scottish Lowlands in the 18th century.

The backdrop is believed to have been inspired by the Penicuik area some eight miles south west of Edinburgh where Ramsay was frequently the guest of his patron Sir John Clerk of Penicuik at Penicuik House.

The Italian style of classical music was probably first brought to Scotland by the Italian cellist and composer Lorenzo Bocchi, who travelled to Scotland in the 1720s, introducing the cello to the country and then developing settings for lowland Scots songs. He possibly had a hand in the first Scottish opera, the pastoral The Gentle Shepherd, with libretto by the makar Allan Ramsay.

A small sample of one of the songs from the play is given below, but the full text of The Gentle Shepherd by Allan Ramsay may be found on

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The Gentle Shepherd

The Gentle Shepherd By Allan Ramsay - Song 1

My Peggy is a young thing,
Juist entered in her teens,
Fair as the day an sweet as Mey,
Fair as the day an always gay.
My Peggy is a young thing,
An I'm nae very auld,
Yet weel I like to meet her at
The waukin o the fauld.

My Peggy speaks sae sweetly,
Whene'er we meet alane,
I wish nae mair to lay my care,-
I wish nae mair o a' that's rare.
My Peggy speaks sae sweetly,
To a' the lave I'm cauld,
But she gars a' my spirits glow,
At waukin o the fauld.

My Peggy smiles sae kindly,
Whene'er I whisper love,
That I leuk doun on a' the toun,-
That I leuk doun upon a croun.
My Peggy smiles sae kindly,
It maks me blythe an bauld,
An naething gies me sic delyte,
As waukin o the fauld.

My Peggy sings sae saftly,
When on my pipe I play,
By a' the rest it is confest-
By a' the rest that she sings best.
My Peggy sings sae saftly,
An in her sangs are tauld,
Wi innocence, the wale o sense,
At waukin o the fauld.

The Gentle Shepherd
The Opening Scene Of Allan Ramsay's 'The Gentle Shepherd' By David Allan (1744-1796)

The Online Scots Dictionary Translate Scots To English.
Dance information licensed under this Creative Commons Licence 3.0.
Text from this original The Gentle Shepherd article on Wikipedia.
Text from this original Allan Ramsay - Poet article on Wikipedia.
Image copyright (cropped) David Allan (1744-1796) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

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