Document 727

Song-Cycle from the Bagpipe Opera "Tulsa"

Author(s): Tom Hubbard

Copyright holder(s): Tom Hubbard


[NOTE: Tulsa, for which I am writing the libretto, is based on accounts of the race riots of 1921 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Charles Kerr, a Presbyterian minister of Scots descent, makes a vigorous defence of the black neighbourhood against the depredations of his fellow-whites, thereby becoming an Ibsen-like ‘enemy of the people’. The libretto is in Scots and the music is by Lindsay Davidson, who features the bagpipes prominently in the scoring.]

(Adapted from the African-American English)

Rowl, Jordan, rowl,
Rowl, Jordan, rowl,
I want ti gang ti Heiven whan I dee,
Ti hear auld Jordan rowl.

O brithers
Rowl, Jordan, rowl,
Rowl, Jordan, rowl,
Want ti gang ti Heiven whan I dee,
Ti hear auld Jordan rowl.

O brithers, you ocht t’hae been there
Ay, Lord,
Sittin upby i the kinrik,
Ti hear auld Jordan rowl.

Sing it ower,
O rowl.
O, rowl, Jordan, rowl.
I want ti gang to Heiven whan I dee,
Ti hear auld Jordan rowl.


O Anna we hae been blest in this life o oors
And we maun mak blessins fir ithers in retour.
Thon is oor mission, here at the faur side o Appalachia:
For you and I, we hae coorted alang the trails o Appalachia …

As the sun sprinkled throu the forest on-ti the ever-quickenin creeks,
As the gloamin fell upon the sacrit flet rock
Warm and sheenin whaur the Cherokee langsyne
Incaa’d their forefolk, hailin the Gret Speerit. –

O Anna, luve,
Wadna my ain forefolk, sons o thon same Gret Speerit,
As brithers o aa races hauden-doun and movit-on,
Wadna they bless the enbrace o thir twa launds,
My Scotland, my America; oor Alba, oor Appalachia …

O Anna think o the airts o Appalachia
And their braw place-names, fair dirlin i the lug.
We waukened ti new life wi oor young kisses
Ablow the faas o Catawba, aside the tweestin pad
By the stane brig that led ti Rattlesnake Lodge.

O rare Nantahala, the glen at Dysart Springs,
The common poetrie o twa nations’ namins,
The Indians and the Scots … The man and wumman
Wha’d hike thir trails cuidna dae itherwise
Nor faa inti ilk ither’s airms. Praise God,
Praise the … Gret Speerit … frae Him comes luve,
The grettest thing i the warld.

And sae, I speir … whit fir suid folk like us
No hae oor kirks upon a haly crag
Wi God’s domain spreid braidlie ti oor view,
Ocean o green, billowin ower the hills ayont

Ti the blae ridge, and at the horizon fadin
The cramasie lift that, at the daith o day,
Gies promise o new dawin? – There, there’s the true heich kirk!
The red man needs nae biggin fir ti worship:
The white man, tho, needs waas fir sanctuarie,
The bleck man, aa the mair …


Whan oor wey o life is threatened and the darkies stert ti lowp,
And the New Warld Order looks like tummlin in the cowp,
Then ilka true patriot maun git aff his dowp
And fecht fir his yle. [yle = oil]

God Himsel gien us dominion – ower the haill o the yirth:
Democracie fir aabody, baur folk o lesser birth;
Oor empire (and oor bellies) ken nae limit ti their girth,
Sae lat’s fecht, fecht fir wir yle.

Ye’re for us, or agin us, that’s whit the mannie said;
Sae come up, y’all, and jyne oor great CRUSADE,
Itherwise, we’ll find ye oot, and leave ye warse than DAID,
Gin ye dinna fecht fir yle.

It’s bleck stuff, no the blecks, that maks us kinda snazzy,
And we’re no fir the haill jing-bang ti gurgle doun the kazzy:
Sae lat’s declare oor Holy War, and spare nae razz-a-ma-tazzy,
It’s their bluid, but it’s oor YLE!

(Adapted from the African-American English)

Ma Lord he lowsit Daniel,
Daniel frae the lion’s den;
Ma Lord he lowsit Daniel,
Wha’s hauden-doun syne then?

He lowsit Daniel frae the lion’s den,
Jonah frae the wame o the whale,
Three Hebrews frae the brennin furnace,
- But why no lowse the haill?

Ma Lord he lowsit Daniel,
Daniel frae the lion’s den,
Ma Lord he lowsit Daniel
- Will he no come back again?

Lat the müne rin doun in a purpour stream,
And the sun be sweir ti shine,
Lat ilka starn fade like a dream,
Gin their Lord isna mine.

Ma Lord he lowsit Daniel,
As ilka Christian lairns;
Ma Lord he lowsit Daniel
- But why no aa his bairns?

I set my fuit on the Gospel ship,
And the ship begoud ti sail:
It laundit me ower on Canaan’s shore,
And I’ll tak nae mair my weary trail.

Daniel wis lowsit frae a lion’s den,
Jonah frae the wame o a whale;
O Lord, you set thir guid folk free:
Nou set that blessin on the haill!

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Information about Document 727

Song-Cycle from the Bagpipe Opera "Tulsa"


Text audience

General public
Audience size 100+

Text details

Method of composition Handwritten
Year of composition 2004
Title of original (if translation) Two of these pieces are Scots rendering of negro spirituals
Language of original (if translation) African-American English
Word count 859

Text medium

Other Musical performance

Text performance/broadcast details

Where performed/broadcast Some Tulsa extracts performed by musicians in Poland and Hungary, Oct-Dec 2004
Performed/broadcast by Polish and Hungarian musicians, the latter from Liszt Academy of Music, Budapest.

Text publication details

Publisher Akros
Publication year 2004
Place of publication Kirkcaldy
ISBN/ISSN 0-86142-153-1
Edition 1st
Part of larger text
Contained in "From Soda Fountain to Moonshine Mountain: American Poems"
Editor Author, Tom Hubbard
Page numbers 11-15
Part of a longer series of texts
Name of series Tulsa: an opera in three acts. Music by Lindsay Davidson, Libretto by Tom Hubbard

Text setting


Text type

Script (film, play, radio, tv etc.)
Other Opera libretto


Author details

Author id 232
Forenames Tom
Surname Hubbard
Gender Male
Decade of birth 1950
Educational attainment University
Age left school 18
Upbringing/religious beliefs N/A
Occupation Academic, librarian and writer
Place of birth Kirkcaldy
Region of birth Fife
Birthplace CSD dialect area Fif
Country of birth Scotland
Place of residence Kirkcaldy
Region of residence Fife
Residence CSD dialect area Fif
Country of residence Scotland
Father's occupation Caterer
Father's place of birth Dysart
Father's region of birth Fife
Father's birthplace CSD dialect area Fif
Father's country of birth Scotland
Mother's occupation Caterer
Mother's place of birth Dysart
Mother's region of birth Fife
Mother's birthplace CSD dialect area Fif
Mother's country of birth Scotland


Language Speak Read Write Understand Circumstances
English Yes Yes Yes Yes Everyday
Italian Yes Yes Yes Yes Work, holiday, fluency fluctuating
Polish No No No No Smattering. Work, holiday
Scots Yes Yes Yes Yes Everyday. Scots spoken in relaxed circumstances