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The Burns Encyclopedia
Home | Introduction | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z

'Ca' the Yowes'

This very lovely song, with its modal tune, first appeared in the Scots Musical Museum in 1790. The manuscript, containing the opening bars of the tune, is in the British Museum. In the interleaved Museum Burns noted: 'This beautiful song is in the true old Scotch taste, yet I do not know that ever either air or words were in print before.'

The last two stanzas are Burns's according to Dick, while the first two were 'made out of the original first stanza'.

Writing to Thomson in September 1794, Burns said: 'I am flattered at your adopting "Ca' the Yowes", as it was owing to me that ever it saw the light. About seven years ago, I was well acquainted with a worthy little fellow of a clergyman, a Mr Clunzie, who sang it charmingly; and at my request, Mr Clarke took it down from his singing. When I gave it to Johnston, I added some stanzas to the song, and mended others...'

The author of the original stanzas was said to have been Tibbie Pagan, an eccentric old woman who sold whisky without a licence, and accompanied its dispensation to her customers with a fund of broad stories. However, a collection of her pieces was published in Glasgow in 1805, and 'Ca' the Yowes' was not of the number.

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Robert Burns Store

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Complete Burns Songs

linn recordings of burns Linn Records have completed their landmark recording of all 368 Burns songs, available as individual CDs or a 12 volume presentation box set. We have full details. Click here...


Burns Music & Recordings
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Hint: Type "lang syne" or "peck maut" etc. into the Search box there for all artists, titles, descriptions or track listings with the words entered.
Burns Chess Sets

Burns Chess SetsUnique collectors' pieces based on Burns' life and works. (The ideal gift for your Burns Supper guests!) Click here...

Scotweb Store

ScotwebThe finest Scottish shopping site in the world, with the world's largest choice of kilts and tartans, exclusive jewelry, Highland Dress, Bagpipes and piping supplies, cashmere, and much more. Buying from these sites helps pay for the upkeep of Burns Country! Click here...