“Green Grow the Rashes, O”


"There's naught but care on ev'ry han' In ev'ry hour that passes, O." In praise of women and love: "Green grow the rashes, O... The sweetest hours that e'er are spent Are spent amang the lasses, O." Other texts may be more explicitly bawdy

Supplemental text

Green Grow the Rashes, O
  Complete text(s)

          *** A ***

From James Johnson, "The Scots Musical Museum," Volume I, #77, p. 78.

There's nought but care on ev'ry han',
  In ev'ry hour that passes, O:
What signifies the life o' man,
  An' twere not for the lasses, O.

    Green grow the Rashes, O;
    Green grow the rashes, O:
    The sweetest hours that e'er I spend,
    Are spent amang the lasses, O.

The warly race may riches chase,
  An' riches still may fly them, O;
An tho' at last they catch them fast,
  Their hearts can ne'er enjoy them, O.

But gie me a canny hour at e'en,
  My arms about my Dearie, O,
An' warly cares, an' warly men,
  May a' gae tapsalteerie, O!

For you sae douse! ye sneer at this,
  Ye'er nought but senseless asses, O;
The wisest Man the warl' saw,
  He dearly lov'd the lasses, O.

Auld Nature swears, the lovely Dears
  Her noblest work she classes, O:
Her prentice han' she try'd on man,
  An' then she made the lasses, O.

The above text is as it appears in the facsimile of the 1853
edition. Various other transcriptions exist. The version in
William Beattie and Henry W. Meikle, "Robert Burns," gives
the following variants (ignoring capitalization, but
including punctuation variants, except those involving :/; where
the facsimile is unclear):

Chorus PRECEDES the first verse
1.2: ev'ry ] every
1.4: twere ] 'twere; not ] na
2.3: an (vid) ] an'
4.1: douse! ] douse,
4.2: Ye'er ] Ye're
4.3: warl' saw ] warl' e'er saw

The Wordsworth Poetry Library edition, "The Works of Robert
Burns," has these variants (again ignoring capitalization,
which it corrects toward modern usage. Also, the Wordsworth
text eliminates all commas before the word O; this variant
is not noted):

Chorus PRECEDES the first verse
1.4: twere ] 'twere; not ] na
2.3: an (vid) ] an'
4.1: douse! ] douce,
4.2: Ye'er ] Ye're
5.3: try'd ] tried

vid=videtur, i.e. that's what it appears to read.


Not to be confused with the ritual/religious "Green Grow the Rushes, O." - RBW

Broadside NLScotland, RB.m.168(207): the imprint "Pitts, Printer, Wholesale Toy and Marble Warehouse, 6, Great St. Andrew Street, Seven Dials" is dated "between 1819 and 1844" at Bodleian Library site Ballads Catalogue; date shown is NLScotland "probable period of publication."

Creighton-SNewBrunswick is from the chorus as in the description above. - BS


  • Bodleian, Johnson Ballads fol. 25, "Green Grow the Rashes," J. Catnach (London), 1813-1838
  • NLScotland, RB.m.168(207), "Green Grow the Rashes," J. Pitts (London), 1820-1844


  1. Creighton-SNewBrunswick 98, "Green Grow the Rashes O" (1 fragment consisting of the chorus, 1 tune)
  2. Scott-BoA, pp. 97-99, "Green Grow the Rushes O" (1 text, 1 tune)
  3. Silber-FSWB, p. 160, "Green Grow The Rashes, O" (1 text)
  4. DT, GRRASH* (the standard version) GRRASH1* (bawdy)
  5. ST SBoA097 (Full)
  6. Roud #2772
  7. BI, SBoA097


Author: Words: Robert Burns
Earliest date: 1794
Found in: Britain(Scotland) Canada(Mar)