The Word on the Street
home | background | illustrations | distribution | highlights | search & browse | resources | contact us

Broadside ballad entitled 'Whistling Sannie'


Verse 1: 'The laverock mounts the airy sky, / And pours his sweetest notes on high, They charm the wanderer's ear gaun by, / But no sae much as Sannie, O!' At the top of the sheet there is a note: 'This Song is Copyright and the exclusive Property of the Author.' However, the author's name is not given and the sheet carries no other publication details.

'Whistling Sannie' is a song about a boy or man who is loved by women for his whistling ability. He is favourably compared to different songbirds, which are all identified by their Scots names rather than the more familiar English ones. A 'laverock' is a lark, a 'linti' or 'lintie' is a linnet, and a 'mavis' is a thrush. 'Sannie' is also Scots, and is one of many abbreviations of Alexander.

Early ballads were dramatic or humorous narrative songs derived from folk culture that predated printing. Originally perpetuated by word of mouth, many ballads survive because they were recorded on broadsides. Musical notation was rarely printed, as tunes were usually established favourites. The term 'ballad' eventually applied more broadly to any kind of topical or popular verse.

previous pageprevious          
Probable period of publication: 1880-1900   shelfmark: RB.m.169(225)
Broadside ballad entitled 'Whistling Sannie'
View larger image

NLS home page   |   Digital gallery   |   Credits

National Library of Scotland © 2004

National Library of Scotland