Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Folk Song for February 2025: Mairi's Wedding

“Mairi’s Wedding” is not a folk song in the traditional sense, as it was written by one person (and translated by another). In 1934,  a Scottish singer named Mary C. MacNiven won a gold medal at the National Mòd.  J. R. Bannerman composed a song in Gaelic in honour of her performance (and not about a wedding at all), which was later expanded to a Scottish country dance tune.

Sir Hugh Roberton, the conductor of the Glasgow Orpheus Choir, wrote an English version of the song, but changed the context from “Mairi’s Gold Medal at the Music Festival” to “Mairi’s Wedding.” It is also called the “Lewis Bridal Song.” MacNiven’s 1997 obituary stated that “among Mary's prized possessions was the original copy of the translation autographed by the choral maestro.” 


As the song is under copyright, we recommend that you use the lyrics found on the Scottish Country Dancing Dictionary. 

Video Links

We recommend the following videos:

The High Kings, performing on a PBS T.V. special (they call it “Marie’s Wedding”) . This one may be useful for singing along as it does not go as fast as some versions. 

The King’s Singers, from their album Annie Laurie: Folksongs of the British Isles

This video recorded at the Portadown Summer Party in 2009 is instrumental only, but shows people dancing to the tune. 

A note from Advisory member Anne White: There are several videos of the Rankin Family performing Mairi’s Wedding, but our family particularly liked this very lively live version, especially because of the young dancers. (There is an additional fiddle tune called “Malcolm Finlay” at the end of the video.) 


Our helpful intro post is sure to liven up your folk song adventures.

For more information on our folk songs, and for Amazon affiliate 
links to purchase individual songs, see our AO Folk Songs page.
These affiliate links help support AmblesideOnline.

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