The Ballad of the Braw Lads O’Gala Water

The Ballad of the Braw Lads O’Gala Water

From: The History of Galashiels, by Robert Hall (pages 31, 32 & 33).

Robert Hall states that “About a hundred years ago it was generally understood in the village that the black-eyed lass of Galashiels was Jean, daughter of Sir James Pringle.”  Jean Pringle married Hugh Scott and not a Laird of Torsonce, so she couldn’t have been the “Black eyed lass of Galashiels” of the ballad who was wooed by the Laird of Torsonce and Cortleferry. The only daughter of a laird of Gala that married a Laird of Torsonce, was Grissell Scott, the eldest daughter of Hugh Scott of Galashiels who married John Hoppringill of that ilk and Torsonce, who died in 1737 and was our last clan chief. Their contract of marriage was made in 1681.

Listen to the Ballad being sung here:

Braw lads O’ Gala Water

(Old Version)

Out ower yon moss, out ower yon muir,
Out ower yon bonnie bush o’heather,
O’ a’ ye lads whae’er ye be,
Shew me the way to Gala Water.

     Braw, braw lads o’ Gala Water,
     Bonnie lads o’ Gala Water:
     The Lothian lads can ne’er compare,
     Wi’ the braw lads o’ Gala Water.

At Nettleflat we will begin,
And at Haltree we’ll write a letter:
We’ll down by the Bower, and take a scour,
And drink to the lads o’ Gala Water.

There’s Blindlee and Torwoodlee,
And Galashiels is muckle better;
But young Torsonce he bears the gree,
O’ a’ the Pringles o’ Gala Water.

Buckham is a bonnie place,
But Appletreeleaves is muckle better;
But Cockleferry [Cortleferry] bears the gree,
Frae ilk laird on Gala Water.

Lords and lairds cam’ here to woo,
And gentlemen wi’ sword and dagger;
But the black-eyed lass o’ Galashiels,
Wad hae nane but the gree o’ Gala Water.

Lothian lads are black wi’ reek,
And Teviotdale lads are little better;
But she’s kiltit her coats aboon her knee,
And gane wi’ the lad o’ Gala Water.

Though corn rigs are guid to see,
Yet flocks o’ sheep are muckle better;
For oats will shake in a windy day,
When the lambs will play by Gala Water.

Adieu, “Sour Plums o’ Galashiels,”
Farewell, my father and my mother;
For I’ll awa wi’ the black herd lad,
Wha keeps his flocks on Gala Water.

     Braw, braw lads o’ Gala Water,
     Bonnie lads o’ Gala Water,
     Let them a’ say what they will,
     The gree gaes aye to Gala Water.

Braw lads O’ Gala Water

(Original Version)

Braw, braw lads of Gala Water,
O braw lads of Gala Water;
I’ll kilt my coats aboon my knee,
And follow my luve through the water.

O’er yon bank and o’er yon brae,
O’er yon moss amang the heather;
I’ll kilt my coats aboon my knee,
And follow my luve through the water.

Braw Lads O’Gala Water

by Robert Burns

Braw, braw lads on Yarrow braes,
They rove amang the blooming heather;
But Yarrow braes, nor Ettrick shaws
Can match the lads o’ Gala Water.

But there is ane, a secret ane,
Aboon then a’ I lo’e him better;
And i’ll be his, and he’ll be mine,
The bonie lad o’ Gala Water.

Altho’ his daddie was nae laird,
And tho’ I hae na meikle tocher,
Yet rich in kindest, truest love,
We’ll tent our flocks by Gala Water.

It ne’er was wealth, it ne’er was wealth,
That coft contentment, peace, or pleasure:
The bands and bliss o’ mutual love,
O that’s the chiefest warld’s treasure.