Union Songs

The John MacLean March

A song by Hamish Henderson©Hamish Henderson

Hey Mac did ye see him as ye cam' doon by Gorgie,
Awa ower the Lammerlaw or North o' the Tay?
Yon man is comin' and the haill toon is turnin' oot:
We're a' sure he'll win back to Glesga the day.
The jiners and hauders-oan are marchin' frae Clydebank;
Come on noo an hear him - he'll be ower thrang tae bide.
Turn oot, Jock and Jimmie: leave your cranes and your muckle gantries.

Great John MacLean's comin' back tae the Clyde.
Aye, Great John MacLean's comin' back tae the Clyde

Argyle Street and London Road's the route that we're marchin' -
The lads frae the Broomilaw are here - tae a man!
Hi Neil, whaur's yer hadarums, ye big Heilan' teuchter?
Get your pipes, mate and march at the heid o' the clan.
Hullo Pat Malone: sure I knew you'd be here so:
The Blue and the Green me lad we'll wear side by side.
Gorbals is his the day, and Glasgow belongs tae him.

Great John MacLean's comin' hame tae the Clyde

Forward tae Glesga Green we'll march in guid order:
Wull grips the banners well (that boy isna blate).
Ay there, man that's Johnnie noo - that' him there, the bonnie fechter.
Lenin's his fere, lad an'Leibnecht his mate.
Tak tent when he's speakin', for they'll mind whit he's said here.
In Glesga, oor city - an' the haill world beside.
Och hey, lad the scarlet'  bonnie: here's tae ye, Heilan Shony!
John MacLean's comin' back tae the Clyde.

Oor ain John MacLean's has come hame tae the Clyde.

Aweel when it's feenished, I'm awa hame tae Springburn
(Come hame tae your tea John, we'll soon hae ye fed)
It's hard work this speakin': Och, I'm shair he'll be tired the nicht
I'll sleep oan the flair and gie Mac the bed.
The hill city's quiet noo: it kens that he's restin'
At hame wi' his Glesga freens, their fame and their pride!
The red will be worn, my lads an Scotland will rise again.

Noo great John MacLean's has come hame tae the Clyde.


The John MacLean March is one of the great political Scots ballads of the 20th century.
Its author, Hamish Henderson, is a great figure in Scottish culture in the second half of the 20th century.
Born in Blairgowrie, Perthshire in 1919, Hamish was a poet, songwriter, folksong collector and  academic.
He also founded the School of Scottish Studies at Edinburgh University, which has helped to regenerate Scottish culture.
While in Sicily during the war, he wrote the great anti-war song, Farewell to Sicily, which celebrates class as well as anti-war sentiments.
He also wrote the  Freedom Come all Ye which has become known as the Scots Internationale.
Singer, Dick Gaughan calls it "the song of the century".
Hamish was influenced by the writings of the Italian socialist Antonio Gramsci, whose works he translated into English.
This has helped him to remain committed while many others become seduced by the trappings of the establishment.
For example, he refused an OBE in 1983 and was instead voted "Scot of the Year" in a Radio  Scotland poll.

Hamish Henderson died on March 8 2002

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