The Gaberlunzie Man

from Ballads Vol. I by Iona Fyfe

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(Child #279 Greig-Duncan V2:275, Scots Musical Museum VIII #226 pp.234-235, Orpheus Caledonius V1 #95, Last Leaves p.223)

Otherwise known as The Beggar Man, The Jolly Beggar, The Auld Gaberlunzie or The Beggar Laddie, I was taught this ballad by Rod Paterson (of The Easy Club and Jock Tamson’s Bairns) during my time studying at The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.

First printed in Allan Ramsay’s The Tea-Table Miscellany in 1724. The Gaberlunzie Man is a Child ballad which appears in numerous collections, with 27 versions in The Greig-Duncan Folk Song Collection. It appears in Norman Buchan and Peter Hall’s The Scottish Folksinger as The Jolly Beggar and in Norman Buchan’s Wee Red Book (101 Scottish Songs) as The Gaberlunzie Man.


O, a beggar a beggar cam' ower yon lea,
He wiz seeking oot for charity
And he said guid wife for yer courtesy,
Will ye lodge a beggar man?

CHORUS: Lassie tae ma tow row rey

The nicht been cauld, and the carle been wat,
Its in ayont the ingle he sat,
And he’s flung his meal-pocks aff his back
And aye hes ranted and sang,

"Oh gin I were black as l am white,
Like yonder snaw that lies on yonder dyke,
I wad dress mysel' some beggar-like?
And awa' wi' you I’d gang."

"0 lassie, 0 lassie, you’re far ower young,
And ye dinnae hae the cant o’ the beggin’ tongue,
Nah ye dinnae hae the cant o' the beggin' tongue
And wi' me ye canna gang."

"Oh I'II bend my back and I’ll boo my knee,
And I'II pit a black patchie ower my e'e,
Aye and mony’s a fine tale I’ll tell ye,
and awa' wi' you I’ll gang."

Syne atween the twa they hae set the plot
Tae rise twa hoors afore the cock
Sae cannily as she slipped the lock
And its ower the fields they’ve ran

Noo In the mornin' the auld wife rose,
And eagerly pittin’ on her clothes
Straight to the servant's bed she goes
To speir for the silly auld man.

Noo the servants gaed where the auld man lay
Bit the staw was cauld and he wis away
Then its straight tae the auld wife she did say
Is ony o' oor guid gear gane?"

Some ran to the coffer, and some tae the kist
Bit nocht was taken or yet was missed
And she’s lifted up her airms, crying Lord Be Blessed
We’ve Iodged an honest old man.

Noo the servant gaed where the dochter lay,
But the sheets were cauld and she was away,
Then its straight tae the auld wife he did say
"She's awa' wi' the beggar man."

Some rode on horseback, some ran on fit,
A' but the auld wife cause she wasna fit,
She hobbled aboot frae hip to hip
An' aye she’s cursed and banned.

Oh a few years later, maybe twa or three
That same old beggar cam' ower yon lea,
And he says "Gudewife, for your courtesie,
Wid ye lodge a beggin’ man?"

"A beggar, a beggar I'II ne'er lodge again,
For l had ae dochter but ane o' my ain,
And awa' wi' the beggin’ man she's gane
And l dinna ken whence nor whar."

"0, yonder she's coming, and yonder she stands
Wi' a comb and glass intae her hand
Aye and servants aw at her command
Since she went with the beggin’ man

"0, yonder she's comin' to your bower,
Wi silks an' satins wi' monys a flower,"
She's lifted up her airms and she's blest the hour
That she went wi’ the beggin man.


from Ballads Vol. I, released July 22, 2020
Iona Fyfe: vocals


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Iona Fyfe Scotland, UK

Aberdeenshire folksinger, Iona Fyfe, has become one of Scotland’s finest young folk singers, rooted deeply in the singing traditions of the North East of Scotland.The youngest ever winner of Scots Singer of the Year at the MG ALBA Scots Trad Music Awards 2018, Iona has been described as “one of the best Scotland has to offer.” (
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