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Updated: 22 September, 2017

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Regimental March - Highland Laddie

The Regimental March (also known as Regimental March Past) is, in simpler terms, the anthem of a regiment. It is always played when the Regiment marches past a saluting dais or dignitary.

Prior to 1881 there were no regimental marches, as we know them today. Regiments marched past to a tune, which was popular with the Commanding Officer. In 1883, British Regiments were ordered to select a regimental march and told that it would be promulgated in Army Orders. Regiments had marched to a popular tune for a number of years and this in many cases was the march selected for the Regiment. Highland regiments throughout the British Army adopted Highland Laddie as their Regimental March.

Highland Laddie is a common regimental march. It is the regimental march of the following Canadian Regiments and is the regimental march to many Scottish Regiments around the world:

  • The Black Watch (Royal Highland Regiment) of Canada
  • The Lanark and Renfrew Scottish Regiment
  • 2nd Battalion Nova Scotia Highlanders
  • The Essex and Kent Scottish
  • Calgary Highlanders
  • The Lake Superior Scottish Regiment.

The tune has its origins as an old melody called If Thou'lt Play Me Fair, Play, to which the poet Robert Burns adapted The Highland Laddie and Lawland Lassie.

Highland Laddie is played in 2/4 time, and the traditional setting is two parts. Some regiments play four parts, and Pipe Major Robert Henderson arranged a four part version unique to the Calgary Highlanders in the early 1980s. The 3rd and 4th parts fell from use upon his retirement, but only briefly, and Pipe Major Henderson's lively third and fourth parts were revived and are still played today.

Lyrics

  1. The Lawland Lads think they are fine
    But oh they're vain and idle gaudy
    How much unlike the graceful mein
    And manly looks o' my Highland Laddie
  2. If I were free at will to choose
    To be the wealthiest Lawland Lady
    I'd tak' young Donald without trews
    Wi' bonnet blue and Highland plaidie
  3. (Chorus):
    Oh my bonnie bonnie Highland Laddie
    Oh my bonnie bonnie Highland Laddie
    When I was sick and like to die
    He rowed me in his Highland plaidie
  4. O'er Bently Hill wi' him I'll run
    And leave my Lawland kin and daddy
    Frae winters chill and summers sun
    He'll screen me in his Highland plaidie
  5. A painted room, a silken bed
    Maun please a Lawland Lord and Lady
    But I could kiss and be as glad
    Behind a bush in his Highland plaidie
  6. Nae greater joy I'll e'er pretend
    Than that his love prove true and steady
    Like mine to him, which ne'er shall end
    While heaven preserves my Highland Laddie
  7. (Repeat Chorus)