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Hey Johnnie Cope

An exciting Jacobite song about a battle in 1745.

The English general John Cope challenged Bonnie Prince Charlie to fight. When the army of Highlanders met Cope’s soldiers at Prestonpans near Edinburgh, Cope’s army ran away and General Cope ran faster than most, according to the song.

Cope sent a challenge frae Dunbar,
Sayin 'Charlie meet me an' ye daur;
An' I'll learn ye the airts o' war,
If ye'll meet me in the morning.'


Hey! Johnnie Cope are ye waukin' yet?
Or are your drums a-beating yet?
If ye were waukin' I wad wait,
Tae gang tae the coals in the morning.

When Charlie looked the letter upon,
He drew his sword its scabbard from,
'Come, follow me, my merry men,
And we'll meet Johnnie Cope in the morning.'

Now Johnnie, be as good as your word,
Come, let us try baith fire and sword,
And dinna flee like a frichted bird,
That's chased frae its nest i' the morning.

When Johnnie Cope he heard o' this,
He thocht it wouldna be amiss,
Tae hae a horse in readiness,
Tae flee awa in the morning.

Fye now, Johnnie, get up an' rin,
The Highland bagpipes mak' a din,
It's better tae sleep in a hale skin,
For it will be a bluidie morning.

When Johnnie Cope tae Dunbar cam,
They speired at him, 'Where's a' your men?'
'The de'il confound me gin I ken,
For I left them a' in the morning.'

Now Johnnie, troth ye werena blate,
Tae come wi' news o' your ain defeat,
And leave your men in sic a strait,
Sae early in the morning.

'In faith', quo Johnnie, 'I got sic flegs
Wi' their claymores an' philabegs,
Gin I face them again, de'il brak my legs,
So I wish you a' good morning.'

'Hey Johnnie Cope', performed by the group Ceolbeg
From The King has Landed (Songs of the Jacobite Risings) CDTRAX234 (August 2002), Greentrax Recordings.