Mairi’s Wedding is a Traditional Scottish ballad but is often sung by Irish singers. Listen to the making of Mairi’s Wedding by Celtic Angel.
The song tells the story of guests going to the wedding of Mairi, a local girl. The first verse speaks of the guest’s traveling to the wedding; the second verse tells what Mairi looks like; and the third verse is a toast for the bride to have food, comfort and many children. In the chorus they are dancing “heel for heel and toe for toe” and “arm in arm and row on row”.
Mairi’s Wedding (also known as Marie’s Wedding, the Lewis Bridal Song, or Mairi Bhan) is a Scottish folk song originally written in Gaelic by John Roderick Bannerman (1865–1938) for Mary C. MacNiven (1905–1997) on the occasion of her winning the gold medal at the National Mod in 1934. In 1959, James B. Cosh devised a Scottish country dance to the tune, which is 40 bars, in reel time.
Step we gaily, on we go
Heel for heel and toe for toe,
Arm in arm and row on row
All for Mairi’s wedding.
Over hillways up and down
Myrtle green and bracken brown,
Past the sheilings through the town
All for sake of Mairi.
Red her cheeks as rowans are
Bright her eyes as any star,
Fairest o’ them all by far
Is our darlin’ Mairi.
Plenty herring, plenty meal
Plenty peat to fill her creel,
Plenty bonny bairns as weel
That’s the toast for Mairi.
Words in Lyrics:
Mairi – a Scottish form of Mary, in some versions it’s spelled Marie, pronounced mah-ree
bracken – large coarse fern often several feet high
sheiling – A hut or small cottage in an expessed or a retired place
rowans – tree with orange-red berrylike fruits
peat – dried peat moss used to make the fire burn better
creel – a wicker basket
bonny bairns as weel – pretty babies as well