The Scottish National Anthem

As a result of the conversation that the class had last Tuesday when I presented on Norman Cameron, I am going forward with my final paper looking into the ways that exoticism has an influence on his poetry. As I touched on briefly in class, Cameron spent significant time over the course of his life in different countries and therefore has much experience with other cultures. These cultures had an intense effect on him. I am looking at the ways in which exoticism and his native Scottish nationalism dual in his work.

As this has become my key focus, I thought it would be valuable as a background to look up the Scottish national anthem. I was hoping that through studying the lyrics of the anthem I would become more familiar with some of the cultural symbols and key important factors of Scottish nationalism that I could then look for in Cameron’s poetry. My idea was that if I found some of these symbols, etc. in his poetry I would be able to develop a deeper understanding of Cameron’s relationship with Scotland and his Scottish identity. However, this lead was temporarily stifled when I turned to Google and found that there is no official national anthem of Scotland.

Upon further research, I found that the reason for Scotland’s lack of an official national anthem is that for a long time, the Scottish Parliament felt as though the selection of such an important national symbol should be left to the Parliament of the United Kingdom, and for Scotland to choose one on their own was a direct undermining of Scotland’s loyalty to the United Kingdom. In 2004, the Scottish Parliament did more thinking surrounding this issue of national rights and created a petition stating that the selection of an official national anthem should be left to Scotland. While the petition got the government and the country as a whole thinking more about the selection of an official national anthem, ultimately no action was taken.

However, the lack of and OFFICIAL anthem does not mean that there are not unofficial anthems that are used for the same function. Some of the national favorites include:
1) “Scotland the Brave” was used in the place of a national anthem at Scottish sporting events until the 2010 Commonwealth Games.

2) “Flower of Scotland” was used as the victory song of the 2010 Commonwealth Games. Since these games, “Flower of Scotland” has been used as the national anthem at sporting events, most importantly at the matches of the Scottish rugby union team and the Scottish national football team.

3) “Scots Wha Hae” is another patriotic song of Scotland. Robert Burns wrote the lyrics to this anthem in 1793 (before the creation of “Scotland the Brave” and “Flower of Scotland”) and was written to the tune of a traditional Scottish song, “Hey Tuttie Tatie.”

In 2006, the Royal Scottish National Orchestra created a poll in which citizens from all over Scotland could vote for what they believed should become the official national anthem of Scotland. The results are below (thanks, Wikipedia).

“Flower of Scotland” 41%
“Scotland the Brave” 29%
“Highland Cathedral” 16%
“A Man’s A Man for A’ That” 7%
“Scots Wha Hae” 6%

Currently, there is still no official national anthem of Scotland. In most accounts that I have read, there are almost always members of parliament pushing for further discussion, but these groups are never able to recruit and convince the majority of the Scottish parliament that this is an important enough issue to move forward with. For the record, other Celtic countries (such as Wales and Ireland) do have their own official national anthem. Wales’ national anthem is called “Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau” (translates to “Land of My Fathers”) and Ireland’s is “Amhran na bhFiann” (translates to “A Soldier’s Song”).