Johnnie Cope​/​The Athol Highlanders

from The Tannahill Weavers IV by Tannahill Weavers

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Once upon a time there was the 1745 rebellion or uprising, depending on your politics, whereupon the Highland Scots, led by a Frenchman (Bonnie Prince Charlie) fought against the English led by a German (George of the House of Hannover).

This song tells of one of the Scot's early successes at the battle of Prestonpans, near Edinburgh. The English general, Johnnie Cope, seems to have been so afraid of the sound of the Scottish bagpipes that he disappeared faster than a five pound note in an off license and also, unfortunately, got back to England considerable faster than his troops. Being asked why he ran so fast he replied that unfortunately he couldn't fly.


Jock sent a letter tae Dunbar
Sayin' Cherlie meet me gin ye daur
It's I'll learn ye the erts o' war
If ye meet me here in the morning

Cherlie read the letter upon
He drew his sword its scabbard from
Sayin' follow me my merry men
And we'll meet Johnny Cope in the morning


Hey Johnnie Cope are ye walking yet?
And are your drums a-beating yet?
If you were walking I would wait
Tae gang tae the coals in the morning

Come noo Johnnie be as good as your word
And let us try baith fire and sword
Dinnae flee like a frightened bird
Thats gone frae its nest in the morning

When Johnnie Cope he heard o' this
He said tae himself it widnae be amiss
Gin I saddle my horse in readiness
Tae gang a flee in the morning


Bye noo Johnnie get up and rin
The heiland bagpipes mak a din
Its better tae sleep wi' a hale skin
It'll be a bloody morning

When Johnnie Cope tae Dunbar came
They speired at him, "where's a' your men?"
The deil confound me I dinnae ken
I left them a' in the morning


Come noo Johnnie ye werenae plait
Tae come wi' the news o' your ane defeat
And leave your men in sic a state
Sae early in the morning

Wait quo' Johnnie I got sic' flegs
Wi' their claymores and philabegs
Gin I meet them again Deil brak' my legs
I bid you all good morning



from The Tannahill Weavers IV, track released January 1, 1981
Traditional arr. Tannahill Weavers


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