Scottish Country Dancing Dictionary

Tullochgorum

Scottish Song By John Skinner

Tullochgorum (also known as The Reel of Tullochgorum) is the title of a song, which carries the line For blithe and cheery we'll be a'. The words to the song were written by the Scottish poet, songwriter, minister and historian, the Rev. John Skinner in 1776 to the tune Tullochgorum, which is said to have been derived from an older Scottish song tune, printed in Craig's Collection in 1730.

Tullochgorum was written by the Rev. John Skinner, in the house of a lady named Montgomery, in the town of Ellon, Aberdeenshire, where he happened to be on a visit.

The lady is said to have asked for a song after dinner, in order to put a stop to a political dispute, and at the same time to have expressed surprise that the fine old strathspey, called The Reel of Tullochgorum, had no appropriate words to it.

On this hint, Mr. Skinner produced the present song, and it was first printed in the Scots Weekly Magazine for April, 1776.

John Skinner (1721 - 1807) was a Scottish historian and songwriter. Born in Balfour, Aberdeenshire, he was a son of a schoolmaster at Birse, and was educated at Marischal College.

John Skinner was brought up as a Presbyterian, he became an Episcopalian and ministered to a congregation at Longside, near Peterhead, for 65 years and died in 1807, at the advanced age of eighty-six.

He wrote The Ecclesiastical History of Scotland from the Episcopal point of view, and several songs of which The Reel of Tullochgorum and Ewie Wi' The Crookit Horn are the best known, and he also rendered some of the Psalms into Latin.

He kept up a rhyming correspondence with Robert Burns who called Tullochgorum The "First Of Songs".

Inevitably a number of differing versions have appeared over the years but they are all derived from the same song, Tullochgorum.


Related Scottish Country Dances

Blithe And Cheerie
Blythe And Cheerie

Tullochgorum By John Skinner


Come gie's a sang, Montgomery cried,
And lay your disputes all aside,
What signifies't for folk to chide
  For what's been done before them?
Let Whig and Tory all agree,
  Whig and Tory, Whig and Tory,
  Let Whig and Tory all agree,
  To drop their Whig-mig-morum;
Let Whig and Tory all agree,
To spend the night wi' mirth and glee,
And cheerful sing, alang wi' me,
  The reel o' Tullochgorum.

O Tullochgorum's my delight,
It gars us a' in ane unite,
And ony sumph that keeps a spite,
  In conscience I abhor him;
For blithe and cheery we'll be a',
  Blythe and cheery, blythe and cheery,
  Blythe and cheery we'll be a',
  And make a happy quorum;
For blythe and cheery we'll be a',
As lang as we hae breath to draw,
And dance, till we be like to fa',
  The Reel o Tullochgorum.

What needs there be sae great a fraise,
Wi' dringing dull Italian lays?
I wadnagie our ain Strathspeys
  For half a hunder score o' them.
They're dowf and dowie at the best,
  Dowf and dowie, dowf and dowie,
  Dowf and dowie at the best,
  Wi' a' their variorum;
They're dowf and dowie at the best,
Their allegros and a the rest,
They canna please a Scottish taste,
  Compared wi' Tullochgorum.

Let worldly worms their minds oppress,
Wi' fears o' want and double cess,
And sullen sots themsells distress
  Wi' keeping up decorum:
Shall we sae sour and sulky sit,
  Sour and sulky, sour and sulky,
  Sour and sulky shall we sit,
  Like old philosophorum?
Shall we sae sour and sulky sit,
Wi' neither sense, nor mirth, nor wit,
Nor ever try to shake a fit
  To the Reel o Tullochgorum.

May choicest blessings aye attend,
Each honest, open-hearted friend,
And calm and quiet be his end,
  And a that's good watch o'er him:
May peace and plenty be his lot,
  Peace and plenty, peace and plenty,
  Peace and plenty be his lot,
   And dainties a great store o' them;
May peace and plenty be his lot,
Unstain'd by any vicious spot,
And may he never want a groat,
  That's fond o' Tullochgorum!

But for the sullen, frumpish fool,
That loves to be oppression's tool,
May envy gnaw his rotten soul,
  And discontent devour him;
May dool and sorrow be his chance,
  Dool and sorrow, dool and sorrow,
  Dool and sorrow be his chance,
   And nane say, Wae's me for him
May dool and sorrow be his chance,
Wi' a' the ills that come frae France,
Wha eer he be that winna dance
  The Reel o Tullochgorum."


Tullochgorum By John Skinner

From The Book of Scottish Song (1843) edited by Alexander Whitelaw.

Come, gi'e's a sang, Montgomery cried,
And lay your disputes all aside,
What signifies't for folks to chide
  For what's been done before them?
Let Whig and Tory all agree,
Whig and Tory, Whig and Tory,
Let Whig and Tory all agree,
  To drop their Whig-mig-morum;
Let Whig and Tory all agree,
To spend the night in mirth and glee,
And cheerfu' sing alang wi' me
  The reel of Tullochgorum.

O, Tullochgorum's my delight,
It gars us a' in ane unite,
And ony sumph that keeps up spite,
  In conscience I abhor him.
Blythe and merry we's be a',
Blythe and merry, blythe and merry,
Blythe and merry we's be a'.
  And mak' a cheerfu' quorum.
Blythe and merry we's be a',
As lang as we ha'e breath to draw,
And dance, till we be like to fa',
  The reel of Tullochgorum.

There needs na' be sae great a phraise,
Wi' dringing dull Italian lays,
I wadna gi'e our ain strathspeys,
  For half a hundred score o' 'em.
They're douff and dowie at the best,
Douff and dowie, douff and dowie,
They're douff and dowie at the best,
  Wi' a' their variorum.
They're douff and dowie at the best,
Their allegros, and a' the rest,
They canna please a Highland taste,
Compar'd wi' Tullochgorum.

Let warldly minds themselves oppress
Wi' fears of want, and double cess,
And sullen sots themselves distress
  Wi' keeping up decorum.
Shall we sae sour and sulky sit,
Sour and sulky, sour and sulky,
Shall we sae sour and sulky sit,
  Like auld Philosophorum?
Shall we sae sour and sulky sit,
Wi' neither sense, nor mirth, nor wit,
Nor ever rise to shake a fit
  At the reel of Tullochgorum?

May choicest blessings still attend
Each honest open-hearted friend,
And calm and quiet be his end,
  And a' that's good watch o'er him!
May peace and plenty be his lot,
Peace and plenty, peace and plenty,
May peace and plenty be his lot,
  And dainties a great store o' 'em
May peace and plenty be his lot,
Unstain'd by any vicious blot!
And may he never want a groat
  That's fond of Tullochgorum.

But for the dirty, fawning fool,
Who wants to be oppression's tool,
May envy gnaw his rotten soul,
  And discontent devour him!
May dool and sorrow be his chance,
Dool and sorrow, dool and sorrow,
May dool and sorrow be his chance,
  And nane say, Wae's me for 'im!
May dool and sorrow be his chance,
And a' the ills that come frae France,
Whae'er he be, that winna dance
  The reel of Tullochgorum!


Tullochgorum Song Video

Tullochgorum Song - Information Video
Tullochgorum
Tullochgorum, From Glen Collection Of Printed Music, Wood's Edition Of The Songs Of Scotland, Page 26, c. 1857


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Text from this original John Skinner Poet article on Wikipedia.
Text from this original Tullochgorum article on Wikisource.
Image copyright https://digital.nls.uk/special-collections-of-printed-music/archive/91338343 under this Creative Commons Licence 4.0.

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