> Folk Music > Songs > Grat for Gruel

Grat for Gruel

[ Roud 935 ; Ballad Index K202 ; trad.]

Jimmy McBeath of Elgin, Morayshire, sang Gruel in a 1951 recording made by Alan Lomax that was included on the anthology Jack of All Trades (The Folk Songs of Britain Volume 3; Caedmon 1961; Topic 1968), on the 1961 Tradition anthology of folk songs and folk music from Aberdeenshire and the Hebrides, Heather and Glen, and on his and Davie Stewart's 2002 Rounder anthology Two Gentlemen of the Road. Another recording made by Sean Davies in 1966/67 is on McBeath's 1967 Topic album Wild Rover No More, and was included in 2001 on the Sleepytoon anthology The Bothy Songs and Ballads of North East Scotland Vol. 3. Peter Hall commented in the Topic album's sleeve notes:

This satire on the weaver who thinks more of his porridge than of the charms of his new bride, was a favourite among the textile mill lassies, and some versions still use weaving terms. Of all industrial workers only the miners have produced a wealth of song and tradition comparable to that of the spinners and weavers, and it is still common to see a mill girl on the eve of her wedding paraded through the streets of Aberdeen in fancy dress with face blackened and L-plates hung round her neck.

Jimmie MacGregor sang Grat for Gruel in the 1960 HMV anthology of “broadside ballads old and new”, A Jug of Punch.

The Gaugers sang Grat for Gruel on Jean Readpath's 1977 BBC Television Series Ballad Folk and Shepheard, Spiers & Watson sang it in 2005 on their Springthyme CD They Smiled As We Cam In.

Jock Duncan sang Gruel on his 1996 Springthyme CD Ye Shine Whar Ye Stan!. Peter Shepheard commented in the album's booklet:

A favourite comic song about a cantankerous and newly wed weaver whose only desire was to sup his gruel—his porridge of oatmeal. Jock remembers his father humming and singing snatches of the song.

Jock: “Ma faither wisna a singer by any means—it’s the only een I heard him gaun on wi. But his cousin from ower the hill of Belnagoak, Charlie Duncan, sang it with his melodeon.”

Lyrics

Jimmy McBeath sings Grat for Gruel

There was a weaver o’ the North an’ o but he wis cruel,
The very first nicht that he got wed he sat an’ he grat for gruel.
    He widna wint his gruel, he widna wint his gruel, O,
    The very first nicht that he got wed he sat an’ he grut for gruel.

“There’s nae a pot in a’ the hoose that I can mak’ yer gruel, O.”
“The washin‘ pot it’ll dae wi’ me for I maun hae ma gruel.
    For I maun hae ma gmel, I canna wint ma gruel, O,
    The washing pat it’ll dae wi’ me for I maun hae ma gruel.”

“There is nae a spoon in a’ the hoose that you can sup yer gruel.”
“O, the gairden spade it’Il dae wi’ me for I maun hae ma gruel, O.
    For I maun hae ma gruel, I canna wint ma gruel, O,
    The gairden spade it’ll dae wi’ me for I maun hae mo gruel.”

She gaed ben the hoose for cakes and wine an’ brocht ‘em on a to’el O,
“Gyae ‘wa, gyae ‘wa wi’ yer fal-deralls for I maun hae ma gruel.
    For I maun hae ma gruel, I canna wint ma gruel, O,
    Gyae ‘wa, gyae ‘wa yer fal-deralls for I maun hae ma gruel.”

Came all young lassies tak’ my advice an’ niver mairry a weaver
The very first nicht that he got wed he sat an’ grat for gruel
    He widna wint his gruel, he widna wint his gruel, O
    The very first nicht that he got wed he sat an’ he grat far gruel.

Jock Duncan sings Gruel

Oh there wis a weaver in the north, and oh but he wis cruel,
For the very first nicht that he wis wad, he sat an he grat for gruel.
    He sat an he grat for gruel, oh he couldna want his gruel,
    For the very first nicht that he wis wad, He sat an he grat for gruel.

“Oh thereʼs nae a speen in aa the house, for tae sup your gruel.”
“Oh the gairden spadʼll dae wi me, for I maun hae ma gruel.
    For I maun hae ma gruel, oh I canna want ma gruel;
    Oh the gairden spadʼll dae wi me, for I maun hae ma gruel.”

“Oh thereʼs nae a dish in aa the hoose for tae sup your gruel.”
“Oh the horseʼs trochʼll dae wi me for I maun hae ma gruel.
    For I maun hae ma gruel, oh I canna want ma gruel;
    Och, the horseʼs trochʼll dae wi me for I maun hae ma gruel.

She gaed ben the hoose for wine an cakes and brocht them ben on a stool,
“Oh gae wa, gae wa wi yer falderals For I maun hae ma gruel.
    For I maun hae ma gruel, oh I canna want ma gruel;
    Oh gae wa, gae wa wi yer falderals, For I maun hae ma gruel.”

Oh come aa young lassies and listen tae me an dinna mairry a weaver,
The very first nicht that he wis wad he sat an he grat for gruel.
    He sat an he grat for gruel, oh he couldna want his gruel;
    For the very first nicht that he wis wad he sat an he grat for gruel,
    An the very first nicht that he wis wad, he sat an he grat for gruel.