The Broom of Cowdenknowes (Thomas Billington)

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Editor: Christopher Shaw (submitted 2021-10-04).   Score information: A4, 2 pages, 58 kB   Copyright: CC BY SA
Edition notes: Includes a keyboard reduction of the a cappella choral score. Please click on the link for preview/playback/PDF download.

General Information

Title: The Broom of Cowdenknowes
Composer: Thomas Billington
Lyricist: Anon
Number of voices: 4vv   Voicing: SATB
Genre: SecularGlee

Language: English
Instruments: A cappella

First published: c.1788 (n/d)
Description: Billington issued two sets of "glees selected from the Scotch songs" in the late 1780s, to satisfy two contemporary enthusiasms: that for mixed sex social music, and that for all things North-British. The current arrangement comes from the second set. These glees were selected from a repertoire of well-known Scottish songs that had been anthologised in the previous seventy years. Verses that are not underlaid were not included by Billington, and have been imported from external sources.

External websites:

Original text and translations

English.png English text

How blithe I was each morn to see
My swain come o'er the hill;
He leaped the brook and flew to me,
I met him with good will.
O the broom, the bonny, bonny broom,
The broom of Cowdenknowes,
I wish I were with my dear swain,
With his pipe and my ewes.

Hard fate, that I must banished be,
Gang heavily and mourn,
Because I loved the kindest swain
That ever yet was born.
O the broom ...

I wanted neither ewe nor lamb
While his flock near me lay;
He gathered in my flock at night,
And cheered me all the day.
O the broom ...

He tuned his pipe and played so sweet,
The birds sat list'ning by;
E'en the dull cattle stood and gazed,
Charmed with the melody.
O the broom ...

Adieu, ye Cowdenknowes, adieu,
Farewell all pleasures there;
Ye gods, restore me to my swain
Is all I crave or care.
O the broom ...