Scotland's national anthem: Flower of Scotland lyrics in full & explained

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The Scottish national anthem, Flower Of Scotland, hasn't been heard at a major championship for over 20 years. Goal takes a look at its origins.

The playing of national anthems before international football matches is a time-honoured a tradition.

For a final time before the kick-off and the ushering in of the blood, sweat, tears and passion, the players give one last reminder of the ceremony and ritual that is bound-up in representing one’s country.

Loved by many, observed by most and loathed by a few, the playing of the anthems is an enduring part of the international game.

Off the back of the World Cup and its accompanying lessons in the football-playing world’s national anthems, Goal takes as a look at one of those tunes not heard out in Russia, Flower of Scotland , used by... Scotland.


Scotland national football team anthem


Formally speaking, God Save The Queen is the national anthem of the whole United Kingdom, meaning the Scots, however unwillingly, are ultimately tethered to the anthem of their greatest sporting rivals.

However, for football purposes, Flower Of Scotland serves to drum up Celtic passions ahead of the Tartan Army’s international outings – although it hasn’t been heard at a major championship now for over 20 years.


Flower Of Scotland lyrics in full


O Flower of Scotland, 
When will we see
Your like again,
That fought and died for,
Your wee bit Hill and Glen,
And stood against him (against who?),
Proud Edward's Army,
And sent him homeward,
To think again.

The Hills are bare now,
And Autumn leaves
lie thick and still,
O'er land that is lost now,
Which those so dearly held,
That stood against him (against who?),
Proud Edward's Army,
And sent him homeward,
To think again.

Those days are past now,
And in the past
they must remain,
But we can still rise now,
And be the nation again,
That stood against him (against who?),
Proud Edward's Army,
And sent him homeward,
To think again. 

Penned by musician Roy Williamson, Flower Of Scotland is a relatively recent piece, and was only adopted by the national team in 1997, although by then it had already been in informal use since 1993.

Fittingly in the context of Scottish football (or not, depending on your allegiance), the lyrics are a reference to the victory scored by Robert the Bruce over Edward II’s English army at the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314, though the anthem’s stirring refrain hasn’t catalyzed many repeat successes since. Scotland haven’t beaten England on the pitch since Don Hutchinson headed the winner at Wembley in a 1-0 win in 1999.

You can listen to the song being sung ahead of a game against England in the video above.


When was Flower Of Scotland introduced to Scottish sport?


HD Scotland fans 2014

Its introduction to international sport in Scotland came at the 1990 Rugby Union Five Nations game against England at Edinburgh’s Murrayfield Stadium, a game that the Scots won to clinch the Grand Slam.

Unusually, it is only the first and third verses that are usually sung for sporting purposes.

Being as it is only a constituent country of the UK, Scotland doesn't have an 'official' national anthem of its own. Flower Of Scotland was nominally adopted as the country’s anthem in 2006 when a poll conducted by the Royal Scottish National Orchestra saw it clock 41 per cent in a public poll, fending off four other rousing anthems, including Scotland The Brave. 

Jim Leighton Scotland 1998

In 2003, a call for the Scottish Parliament to commission an official Scottish national anthem was turned down after the notion was raised by the MSP George Reid, who argued that Scotland needed a "proper" anthem.

But the Parliament's petitions committee told him it did not have such powers, rather that it was a matter for the Home Office in London, a retort which left Reid somewhat less than satisfied.

"We've much to be proud of and we need an anthem to say so to others and to remind ourselves," Reid told the BBC . "Something we can sing with pride on important ocassions."

It was a sentiment shared within the ranks of the Scottish Football Associatiom the following year, when SFA head George Peat spoke out against the anthem upon his appointment to Scottish football's top job.

"Personally, I would favour a more stirring anthem than the one we have now," said Peat.

"When the song is sung at Hampden it is reasonable but when the national team goes abroad, it can become embarrassing.

"It's played at about a third of the speed it should be and the fans end up four or five bars ahead."

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