Scots Pipers, The
DESCRIPTION: The singer says when he dies "I'll hae nane o' yer mournin' an' weepin'." "Convene me a score o' Scots pipers." When David was young he learned to play [bagpipe] while herding sheep. When Saul was possessed David sent the spirit to hell with his drone.
EARLIEST DATE: 1914 (GreigDuncan3)
KEYWORDS: death music Bible nonballad
FOUND IN: Britain(Scotland(Aber))
REFERENCES (1 citation):
GreigDuncan3 699, "The Scots Pipers" (1 text)
NOTES [372 words]: David's instrument was of course the "harp" (so the King James translation of 1 Samuel 16:16) -- an instrument which probably more closely resembled a lyre (and is so translated in, e.g., the New Revised Standard Version). Although we do not know the exact construction of David's instrument certainly wasn't a wind instrument such as a bagpipe; it had strings.
We should note that there are two versions of the story of David taking service with Saul, squished together in 1 Samuel 16-18; in one (16:14-23), David is hired as a musician to soothe Saul when the latter was possessed by evil spirits (1 Samuel 16:14, 23) and only later kills Goliath. In the other account (found primarily in 1 Samuel 17:12-31, 17:55-18:6, though portions of it may have been mixed with the material in 1 Samuel 17:1-11, 17:32-54), we have clearly a folktale independent of the more official account, in which David chances to be visiting Saul's army at the time of the fight with Goliath, and kills Goliath and only *then* enters Saul's service. Both accounts, to be sure, make David a shepherd (17:15 and 17:34), although in the version in 17:34, he had long since given up being a shepherd.
(If you want proof that the 1 Samuel story is conflate, note that the earliest substantial Greek translation of 1 Samuel, in the Codex Vaticanus, omits the folktale version. Amazingly, both the omitted text and the text Vaticanus includes tell *complete stories of Saul, David, and Goliath* -- extremely unlikely if some editor had simply been cutting out material. The material omitted in Vaticanus has every token of folktale -- e.g. Goliath taunts Saul's army for "forty days," as if the army could stay in place for that long. There is no question in my mind that it is a folktale added to the text of 1 Samuel at some time after the original composition.)
It is worth noting that, although David initially was successful in soothing Saul with his music, eventually Saul tried to kill David even while he was playing (1 Samuel 18:10-11). What this says about music and its effect on spirits I'm not sure. It is notable that we have other instances of prophets requiring music to summon the "spirit" of prophecy -- in particular Elisha in 2 Kings 3:15. - RBW
Last updated in version 2.4
Go to the Ballad Search form
Go to the Ballad Index Song List
Go to the Ballad Index Instructions
Go to the Ballad Index Bibliography or Discography
The Ballad Index Copyright 2018 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.