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Scots Language Centre Centre for the Scots Leid

The Shuttle Rins

This is a very interesting account of the process of making cloth. The wife turns the spinning wheel to make the thread. Her husband sits at his loom, throwing the shuttle from side to side through the threads.

The later verses emphasise the weaver’s dignity and rights, as the writer intended, for the words come from 'Poems And Songs Chiefly For The Encouragement Of The Working Classes' by Henry Syme.

The weaver's wife sits at the fire
And ca's the pirn wheel
She likes tae hear her ain gude man
Drive on the shuttle weel


The shuttle rins, the shuttle rins
The shuttle rins wi speed
O sweetly may the shuttle rin
That wins the bairns' breid

Threid efter threid maks up the claith
Until the wage he wins
And ilka weaver maks the mair
The mair his shuttle rins

He rises early in the morn
He toils fu late at nicht
He fain wad independent be
He kens what is his richt

Although he has nae dainty fare
His wages being sma
Yet he can wi his thrifty wife
Keep hungry want awa

He fondly soothes a neebor's grief
Or shares a neebor's glee
And fain tae gie his bairns lair
He gars the shuttle flee

State cormorants may craw fu crouse
And haughty be an proud
But were they paid by "ells o keels"
They wadna laugh sae loud

The proudest o the land wad pine
Wi 'oot the weavers' wark
The pampered priest, the haughty peer
Wad gang wi'oot a sark

Then cheer your hearts ye workin men
An aa like brithers be
Rise up against restrictive laws
And set industry free

In the note to her CD with a recording of this song Gordeanna McCulloch writes, 'I learned this song some years ago for a concert organised by Danny Kyle as part of the Paisley 500 celebrations. The song itself, which conveys a strong sense of fellowship and humanity, has always appealed to me. Here the clarsach and fiddle emulate the rhythm of the loom and allow me to give freer expression to the words.'

The tune is also used for ‘The Boatie Rows’, a song made 200 years ago by John Ewen, which Robert Burns considered nearly equal to ‘There’s Nae Luck Aboot the Hoose’. ‘The Boatie Rows’ is about fishing in Largo Bay in Fife.

Hear 'The Shuttle Rins' played by Gordeanna McCulloch.
From In Freenship’s Name, CDTRAX123 (released March 1997), Greentrax Recordings.