Green grow the rushes, O

Music: Jonathan Crehan. Words: Robert Burns (1759-1796)
SATB with piano; optional solos.
performance time approx 2m 30s
Range S: d' – d'' / A: a –d'' / T: d – d' / B: A – d'
Price code: B
Complexity: **

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Green Grow the Rashes, O (the original title) is an early song of Robert Burns, and appears in Volume 1 of the Scots Musical Museum, the great six-volume collection of Scottish folk songs and other music (1787). Versions of the tune date back at least as far as the 17th century. Burns wrote more than one set of words to the tune — some bawdier than others — and referred to the song as evidence of which of the two “grand Classes” of men — the Grave or the Merry — he belonged to. The tune published here has become traditional for the song, though it differs a little from the original version. The words are an anglicised version of the original Scots.

Jonathan Crehan's delightful arrangement puts the rippling river (where the rushes grow) into the piano part, sweet and cheerful harmonies into the chorus, with turns at the verses by unison lads and lasses.


Green grow the rushes, O;
Green grow the rushes, O;
The sweetest hours that I ever spend,
Are spent among the lasses, O. [young women]

There's naught but care on ev'ry hand,
In ev'ry hour that passes, O
What signifies the life of man,
If it were not for the lasses, O.

The worldly race may riches chase,
And riches still may fly them, O;
And though at last they catch them fast,
Their hearts can never enjoy them, O.

But give me a quiet hour at evening,
My arms about my dearie, O,
And worldly cares and worldly men
May all go topsy-turvy O!

Old Nature swears, the lovely dears
Her noblest work she classes, O:
Her apprentice hand she tried on man,
And then she made the lasses, O.

Robert Burns

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