Here is Long Johnny Moir in [most of] its splender. I learned the version covered by The Battlefield Band a long time ago in Costa Rica. It was a great walking song because it would take you nearly half way to the bus stop before you were done. One has to wonder if those who composed this amazing song added the phallic references consciously or unconsciously…? However it is, it is a fun song to sing, and I can only imagine that it gets better with Guinness.
In this version I have done 43 of the 50 verses. I cut out two verses about “opening the yetts” and then at the end where they talk about how rich they are and not minding the broken wall. Next I will look into how to further develop the song by adding some drums and a second voice.
I just have to say, folk songs are so fun! It is such a challenge to sing a story, and stay with it rather than just sing words. It is like a theatrical piece on some level. And a lost art that I intend to relearn:)
And here are all 50 verses:
Lang Johnny More
251A.1 THERE lives a man in Rynie’s land,
Anither in Auchindore,
The bravest lad amo them a’
Was lang Johnny Moir.
251A.2 Young Johnny was an airy blade,
Fu sturdy, stout, and strang;
The sword that hang by Johnny’s side
Was just full ten feet lang.
251A.3 Young Johnny was a clever youth,
Fu sturdy, stout, and wight,
Just full three yards around the waist,
And fourteen feet in hight.
251A.4 But if a’ be true they tell me now,
And a’ be true I hear,
Young Johnny’s on to Lundan gane,
The king’s banner to bear.
251A.5 He hadna been in fair Lundan
But twalmonths twa or three
Till the fairest lady in a’ Lundan
Fell in love wi young Johnny.
251A.6 This news did sound thro Lundan town,
Till it came to the king
That the muckle Scot had fa’in in love
Wi his daughter, Lady Jean.
251A.7 Whan the king got word o that,
A solemn oath sware he,
This weighty Scot sall strait a rope,
And hanged he shall be.
251A.8 When Johnny heard the sentence past,
A light laugh then gae he:
‘While I hae strength to wield my blade,
Ye darena a’ hang me.’
251A.9 The English dogs were cunning rogues;
About him they did creep,
And gae him draps o lodomy
That laid him fast asleep.
251A.10 pwhan Johnny wakend frae his sleep
A sorry heart had he;
His jaws and hands in iron bands,
His feet in fetters three.
251A.11 ‘O whar will I get a little wee boy
Will work for meat and fee,
That will rin on to my uncle,
At the foot of Benachie?’
251A.12 ‘Here am I, a little wee boy
Will work for meat and fee,
That will rin on to your uncle,
At the foot of Benachie.’
251A.13 ‘Whan ye come whar grass grows green,
Slack your shoes and rin;
And whan ye come whar water’s strong,
Ye’ll bend your bow and swim.
251A.14 ‘And whan ye come to Benachie
Ye’ll neither chap nor ca;
Sae well ’s ye’ll ken auld Johnny there,
Three feet abeen them a’.
251A.15 ‘Ye’ll gie to him this braid letter,
Seald wi my faith and troth,
And ye’ll bid him bring alang wi him
The body Jock o Noth.’
251A.16 Whan he came whar grass grew green,
He slackt his shoes and ran;
And whan he came whar water’s strong
He bent his bow and swam.
251A.17 And whan he came to Benachie
Did neither chap nor ca;
Sae well ’s he kent auld Johnny there,
Three feet abeen them a’.
251A.18 ‘What news, what news, my little wee boy?
Ye never were here before;’
‘Nae news, nae news, but a letter from
Your nephew, Johnny Moir.
251A.19 ‘Ye’ll take here this braid letter,
Seald wi his faith and troth,
And ye’re bidden bring along wi you
The body Jock o Noth.’
251A.20 Benachie lyes very low,
The tap o Noth lyes high;
For a’ the distance that’s between,
He heard auld Johnny cry.
251A.21 Whan on the plain these champions met,
Twa grizly ghosts to see,
There were three feet between their brows,
And shoulders were yards three.
251A.22 These men they ran ower hills and dales,
And ower mountains high,
Till they came on to Lundan town,
At the dawn o the third day.
251A.23 And whan they came to Lundan town
The yetts were lockit wi bands,
And wha were there but a trumpeter,
Wi trumpet in his hands?
251A.24 ‘What is the matter, ye keepers all?
Or what’s the matter within
That the drums do beat and bells do ring,
And make sic dolefu din?’
251A.25 ‘There’s naething the matter,’ the keeper said,
‘There’s naething the matter to thee,
But a weighty Scot to strait the rope,
And the morn he maun die.’
251A.26 ‘O open the yetts, ye proud keepers,
Ye’ll open without delay;’
The trembling keeper, smiling, said,
‘O I hae not the key.’
251A.27 ‘Ye’ll open the yetts, ye proud keepers,
Ye’ll open without dealy,
Or here is a body at my back
Frae Scotland has brought the key.’
251A.28 ‘Ye’ll open the yetts,’ says Jock o Noth,
‘Ye’ll open them at my call;’
Then wi his foot he has drove in
Three yards braid o the wall.
251A.29 As they gaed in by Drury Lane,
And down by the town’s hall,
And there they saw young Johnny Moir
Stand on their English wall
251A.30 ‘Ye’re welcome here, my uncle dear,
Ye’re welcome unto me;
Ye’ll loose the knot, and slack the rope,
And set me frae the tree.’
251A.31 ‘Is it for murder, or for theft?
Or is it for rooberie?
If it is for ony heinous crime,
There’s nae remeid for thee.’
251A.32 ‘It’s nae for murder, nor for theft,
Nor yet for robberie;
A’ is for loving a gay lady
They’re gaun to gar me die.’
251A.33 ‘O whar’s thy sword,’ says Jock o Noth,
Ye brought frae Scotland wi thee?
I never saw a scotsman yet
But coud wield a sword or tree.’
251A.34 ‘A pox upo their lodomy,
On me had sic a sway
Four o their men, the bravest four,
They bore my blade away.’
251A.35 ‘Bring back his blade,’ says Jock o Noth,
‘And freely to him it gie,
Or I hae sworn a black Scot’s oath
I’ll gar five million die.
251A.36 ‘Now whar’s the lady?’ says Jock o Noth,
‘Sae fain I woud her see;’
‘She’s lockd up in her ain chamber,
The king he keeps the key.’
251A.37 So they hae gane before the king,
With courage bauld and free;
Their armour bright cast sic a light
That almost dim’d his ee.
251A.38 ‘O whar’s the lady?’ says Jock o Noth,
‘Sae fain as I woud her see;
For we are come to her wedding,
Frae the foot o benachie.’
251A.39 ‘O take the lady,’ said the king,
‘Ye welcome are for me;
I never thought to see sic men,
Frae the foot o Benachie.’
251A.40 ‘If I had kend,’ said Jock o Noth,
‘Ye’d wonderd sae muckle at me,
I woud hae brought ane larger far
By sizes three times three.
251A.41 ‘Likewise if I had thought I’d been
Sic a great fright to thee,
I’d brought Sir John o Erskine Park;
He’s thretty feet and three.’
251A.42 ‘Wae to the little boy,’ said the king,
‘Brought tidings unto thee!
Let all England say what they will,
High hang d shall he be.’
251A.43 ‘O if you hang the little wee boy
Brought tidings unto me,
We shall attend his burial,
And rewarded ye shall be.’
251A.44 ‘O take the lady,’ said the king,
‘And the boy shall be free;’
‘A priest, a priest,’ then Johnny cried,
‘To join my love and me.’
251A.45 ‘A clerk, a clerk,’ the king replied,
‘To seal her tocher wi thee;’
Out it speaks auld Johnny then,
These words pronounced he:
251A.46 ‘I want nae lands and rents at hame,
I’ll ask nae gows frae thee;
I am possessd o riches great,
Hae fifty ploughs and three;
Likewise fa’s heir to ane estate
At the foot o Benachie.
251A.47 ‘Hae ye ony masons in this place,
Or ony at your call,
That ye may now send some o them
To build your broken wall?’
251A.48 ‘Yes, there are masons in this place,
And plenty at my call;
But ye may gang frae whence ye came,
Never mind my broken wall.’
251A.49 They’ve taen the lady by the hand
And set her prison-free;
Wi drums beating, and fifes playing,
They spent the night wi glee.
251A.50 Now auld Johnny Moir, and young Johnny Moir,
And Jock o Noth, a’ three,
The English lady, and little wee boy,
Went a’ to Benachie.