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Ewie wi' the Crookit Horn
Rev. J Skinner

*Oh, the yowie wi' the crookit horn
A' that kenned her could hae sworn
That sic a yowie ne'er was born
Here aboot or far awa'

'O were I able to rehearse,
My ewie's praisein proper verse,
I'd found it out as loud and fierce,
As ever piper's drone cou'd blaw.'


She never threatened scab nor rot,
but keepit aye her ane jog trot,
Baith tae the fauld and tae the cot
 was never sweir tae lead nor ca'.


When ither ewies lap the dyke,
and ate the kail for a' the tyke,
My ewie never played the like
 but stayed ahint the barnie wa'.


But wad ye think for a' my keepin'
There came a nicken fen I was sleepin'
There came a nicken when I was sleepin'
And stole my yowie, horn an' a'


Oh, gin I had the lad that did it
I haw sworn as weel as said it
Though the de'il himsel' they should forbid it
I would gie his neck a thraw


She'd neither not carf nor keel
To mark upon her hip or heel
Her crookit horn it did as weel
To ken her o'er amang them a'


The yowie wi' the crookit horn
The yowie wi' the crookit horn
My ewie wi' the crookit horn
Is ta'en frae me and sto'n awa'


Cauld nor hunger never dang her,
Wind nor weet could never wrang her;
Ance she lay a week and langer
Out aneath a wreath o' snaw


I looked aye at even for her,
Lest mishanter should come o'er her.
Or the foumart might devour her,
Gin the beastie bade awa.


Yet, Monday last, for a' my keeping,
I canna speak o't without greeting,
A villain came when I was sleeping,
And staw my ewie, horn and a'.


I sought her sair upon the morn,
And down 'aneath a buss o' thorn
I got my ewie's crooked horn,
But ah!   my ewie was awa'.


But gin I had the loon that did it,
I hae sworn as well as said it,
Though the Laird himsel' forbid it,
I wad gie his neck a thraw.


O! had she dee'd o' crook or cauld,
As ewies do when they are auld,
It wadna been by mony fauld
Sae sair a heart to nane o's a'.


For a' the claith that we hae worn,
Frae her and her's sae aften shorn,
The loss o' her we could hae borne,
Had fair strae death ta'en her awa'.


This sang can be heard on  a classic album
collected from Lucy Stewart by Peter Kennedy
recorded on Folksongs of Britain 10.  I used to check these great records out of the Edinboro Library in the 70s.  I don't think you can still get the whole set but look here, Rounder Records has a wonderful shortened set on CD.

Also when I was in college my husband gave me a delightful old volume of folksongs from Scotland Called the Royal Edition -The Songs of Scotland.  The frontice piece says 1892 is when this copy was given as a gift.
I found this song in that book and was so pleased to find a midi of the tune at Mudcat Cafe recently.  In this book It claims the Rev. Skinner wrote it but I have found other versions as I noted and I suspect like allot of songs Rev. Skinner may have written more verses for a older song just as Burns and Sir Walter Scot sometimes did.  Just the same, I put  Rev. Skinner's name under the title.   This does not have a copyright as far as I know, it should be in the public domain.  Compare the humor in this song to the dryer tale by Burns "What Will I Do Gin My Hoggie Die?".

These lyrics were written by the Reverend John Skinner (1721-1807). Glen (1900) believes the tune to date from around 1780. It was published that year in Angus Cumming's 'Collection of Strathspeys, or Old Highland Reels' and was called 'Carron's Reel' or 'U Choira Chruim'. In a letter to Burns dated 14 November 1787, Skinner says, 'my daughters. .. plagued me for words to some of their favourite tunes', which this may well have been. Some commentators believe, however, that it refers to the curved tubing of a whisky still, which is possible, but an unlikely subject for a man of the cloth!

The 'Scots Musical Museum' is the most important of the numerous eighteenth- and nineteenth-century collections of Scottish song. When the engraver James Johnson started work on the second volume of his collection in 1787, he enlisted Robert Burns as contributor and editor. Burns enthusiastically collected songs from various sources, often expanding or revising them, whilst including much of his own work. The resulting combination of innovation and antiquarianism gives the work a feel of living tradition.

It is said this song is actually about a whiskey still by some historians

The Official Robert Burns Site: Maurice Lindsay's 'The Burns Encyclopaedia', available to search online
Alexander Warrack. 'The Concise Scots Dictionary' serving as a glossary for Ramsay, Fergusson, Burns, Scott, Galt, minor poets, kailyard novelists, and a host of other writers of the Scottish tongue Poole: New Orchard Editions, 1988
Find in NLS: Title, Author, Title+Author or British Library: Title, Author, Title+Author
James Johnson and Robert Burns. 'The Scots Musical Museum, 1787-1803', facsimile copy in two volumes. Introduction by Donald A. Low, includes select bibliography, index of songs contributed by Burns, and Burns' notes on Scottish Song, written in an interleaved copy of the 'Museum' Aldershot: Scolar Press, 1991
Find in NLS: Title, Author, Title+Author or British Library: Title, Author, Title+Author
John Glen. Early Scottish melodies: including examples from mss. and early printed works, along with a number of comparative tunes, notes on former annotators, English and other claims, and biographical notices etc. written and arranged by John Glen Edinburgh: J. & R. Glen, 1900. NLS shelfmark (out of print) Mus.Ref.4(NRR)
Find in NLS: Title, Author, Title+Author or British Library: Title, Author, Title+Author


(Older verses)



Ilka ewe comes hame at even (x3)

Crookit hornie bides awa



Ewie wi the crookit horn

May ye never see the morn

Ilka nicht you steal my corn

Ewie wi the crookit horn


Ilka ewie has a lambie (x3)

Crookit hornie she has twa


A the ewes gie milk eneuch (x3)

Crookit horn gies maist of a

JOHN SKINNER (1721-1807)  , Scottish author, son of John Skinner, a parish schoolmaster, was born at Balfour, Aberdeen-shire, on the 3rd of October 1721 . He had been intended for the Presbyterian ministry, but, after passing through Marischal College, Aberdeen, and teaching for a few years, he took orders in the Episcopal Church, and was appointed to the charge of Longside in 1742 . Very soon after Skinner joined the Episcopalians they became, in consequence of the Jacobite rebellion in 1745, a much persecuted remnant . Skinner's church was burnt; his house was plundered; for some years he had to minister to his congregation by stealth; and in 1753 he suffered six months' imprisonment for having officiated to more than four persons besides his own family . After 1760 the penal laws were less strictly en-forced, but throughout the century the lot of the Episcopalian ministers in Scotland was far from comfortable, and only the humblest provisions for church services were tolerated . He died at the house of his son, John Skinner, bishop of Aberdeen, on the 16th of June 18o7 . It is by his few songs that Skinner is generally known . A correspondence took place between him and Burns, who considered his " Tullochgorum" "the best Scotch song Scotland ever saw," and procured his collaboration for Johnson's Musical Museum . Other of his lyrics are: " The Monymusk Christmas Ba'ing," a football idyll; " The Ewie wi' the Crookit Horn " and " John o' Badenyon." His best songs had stolen into print; a collection was not published till 1809, under the title of Amusements of Leisure Hours . Throughout his life Skinner was a vigorous student, and published in 1788 an Ecclesiastical
History of Scotland (2 vols.) in the form of letters .

Ewie wi' the Crookit Horn
Rev. J Skinner

I.  Were I but able to rehearse
    My Ewie’s praise in proper verse,
    I ’d sound it forth as loud and fierce
      As ever piper’s drone could blaw;
    The Ewie wi’ the crookit horn,
    Wha had kent her might hae sworn
    Sic a Ewe was never born,
      Hereabout nor far awa’;
    Sic a Ewe was never born,
      Hereabout nor far awa’.


    I never needed tar nor keil
    To mark her upo’ hip or heel,
    Her crookit horn did as weel
      To ken her by amo’ them a’;
    She never threaten’d scab nor rot,
    But keepit aye her ain jog-trot,
    Baith to the fauld and to the cot,
      Was never sweir to lead nor caw;
    Baith to the fauld and to the cot, &c.


    Cauld nor hunger never dang her,
    Wind nor wet could never wrang her,
    Anes she lay an ouk and langer
      Furth aneath a wreath o’ snaw:
    Whan ither ewies lap the dyke,
    And eat the kail, for a’ the tyke,
    My Ewie never play’d the like,
      But tyc’d about the barn wa’;
    My Ewie never play’d the like, &c.


    A better or a thriftier beast
    Nae honest man could weel hae wist,
    For, silly thing, she never mist
      To hae ilk year a lamb or twa’:
    The first she had I gae to Jock,
    To be to him a kind o’ stock,
    And now the laddie has a flock
      O’ mair nor thirty head ava’;
    And now the laddie has a flock, &c.


    I lookit aye at even’ for her,
    Lest mishanter should come o’er her,
    Or the fowmart might devour her,
      Gin the beastie bade awa;
    My Ewie wi’ the crookit horn,
    Well deserved baith girse and corn,
    Sic a Ewe was never born,
      Hereabout nor far awa’;
    Sic a Ewe was never born, &c.


    Yet last ouk, for a’ my keeping,
    (Wha can speak it without greeting?)
    A villain cam’ when I was sleeping,
      Sta’ my Ewie, horn, and a’:
    I sought her sair upo’ the morn,
    And down aneath a buss o’ thorn
    I got my Ewie’s crookit horn,
      But my Ewie was awa’;
    I got my Ewie’s crookit horn, &c.


    O! gin I had the loon that did it,
    Sworn I have as well as said it,
    Though a’ the warld should forbid it,
      I wad gie his neck a thra’:
    I never met wi’ sic a turn
    As this sin’ ever I was born,
    My Ewie, wi’ the crookit horn,
      Silly Ewie, stown awa’;
    My Ewie wi’ the crookit horn, &c.


    O! had she died o’ crook or cauld,
    As Ewies do when they grow auld,
    It wad na been, by mony fauld,
      Sae sair a heart to nane o’s a’:
    For a’ the claith that we hae worn,
    Frae her and her’s sae aften shorn,
    The loss o’ her we could hae born,
      Had fair strae-death ta’en her awa’;
    The loss o’ her we could hae born, &c.


    But thus, poor thing, to lose her life,
    Aneath a bleedy villain’s knife,
    I ’m really fleyt that our guidwife
      Will never win aboon ’t ava:
    O! a’ ye bards benorth Kinghorn,
    Call your muses up and mourn,
    Our Ewie wi’ the crookit horn
      Stown frae ‘s, and fell’d and a’!
    Our Ewie wi’ the crookit horn, &c.

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