Scottish Country Dancing Dictionary

Weary Fa' You, Duncan Gray

Scottish Poem By Robert Burns

Duncan Gray is the title of many Scottish poems written by Robert Burns around 1792, sung to a tune by the same name, believed to be composed much earlier by Duncan Gray, a carter in Glasgow.

The tune predates Burns, appearing in the Caledonian Pocket Companion 1751 and in the Scots Musical Museum, 1788 with an older version of the words.

Here is a transcription taken from the text at the foot of Glen Collection Of Printed Music, Illustrations of the lyric poetry and music of Scotland, page 148-149, c. 1853.

It is generally reported, that this lively air was composed by Duncan Gray, a carter or carman in Glasgow, about the beginning of last century, and that the tune was taken down from his whistling it two or three times to a musician in that city. It is inserted both in Macgibbon and Oswald's Collections.

The comic verses to which it is united in the Museum, beginning "Wearie fa you, Duncan Gray - Ha, ha, the girdin o't," are taken from the old song, with considerable alterations, by Burns. Our poet, however, wrote another exceedingly humorous song to the same tune in December 1792, which is here subjoined. Duncan Gray cam here to woo... Ha, ha, the wooing o't.

Burns, in a letter to Mr George Thomson, dated 4th December 1792, says, "The foregoing I submit, my dear Sir, to your better judgment. Acquit them or condemn them, as seemeth good in your sight. Duncan Gray is that kind of light-horse gallop of an air which precludes sentiment. The ludicrous is its ruling feature."

This version of Duncan Gray is from The Book of Scottish Song/Duncan Gray 1. The following is the old set of words as altered by Burns for Johnson's Museum.


Related Scottish Country Dances

Duncan Gray

Duncan Gray, By Robert Burns

Weary fa' you, Duncan Gray,
Ha, ha, the girdin' o't;
Wae gae by you, Duncan Gray,
Ha, ha, the girdin' o't;
When a' the lave gae to their play,
Then I maun sit the lee-lang day,
An' jeeg the cradle wi' my tae,
An' a' for the girdin' o't.

Bonnie was the Lammas moon,
Ha, ha, the girdin' o't,
Glowrin' a' the hills aboon,
Ha, ha, the girdin' o't;
The girdin' brak', the beast cam' down,
I tint my curch an' baith my shoon;
An', Duncan, ye're an unco loon,
Wae on the bad girdin' ot.

But, Duncan, gin ye'll keep your aith,
Ha, ha, the girdin' o't,
I'll bless you wi' my hindmost breath,
Ha, ha, the girdin' o't.
Duncan, gin ye'll keep your aith,
The beast again can bear us baith,
An' auld Mess John will mend the skaith,
An' clout the bad girdin' o't.


Weary Fa' You, Duncan Gray Song Video

Weary Fa' You, Duncan Gray Song - Information Video
Weary Fa' You, Duncan Gray
Weary Fa' You, Duncan Gray, From Glen Collection Of Printed Music, Songs Of Robert Burns, page 155, c. 1903


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Dance information licensed under this Creative Commons Licence 3.0.
Text from this original The Book Of Scottish Song Duncan Gray 1 article on Wikisource.
Image copyright (cropped) https://digital.nls.uk/special-collections-of-printed-music/archive/91262174 under this Creative Commons Licence 4.0.

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