Work Of The Weavers polka

Also known as Wark O’ The Weavers, The Wark O’ The Weavers.

There are 2 recordings of this tune.

Work Of The Weavers has been added to 6 tunebooks.

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One setting

X: 1
T: Work Of The Weavers
R: polka
M: 2/4
L: 1/8
K: Dmaj
FG|A2 d>d|d3 c|B2 dB|A2 FG|A2 A>A|A2 df|g2 f2|e2 fa|
A2 d>d|d3 c|B2 dB|A2 FG|A2 BA|d2 ef|e4|d2 de|
f2 ff|e2 e2|d2 dd|c3 c|B2 d2|A2 d2|g2 f2|e2 fa|
A2 d>d|d3 c|B2 dB|A2 FG|A2 BA|d2 ef|e4|d2||

Seven comments

Work of the Weaver

A suitable tune to use for the barn dance: "The Caerphilly March (Ymdaith Caerffili).

The third tune of the set in this YouTube clip (@2:13) :

The tune is derived from a song of the same name (in 6/8 time)which was written in the 1840’s by David Shaw, a weaver from the Angus burgh of Forfar (Scotland).

Work of the Weaver - Lyrics of the Song

We are all met together here to sit and to crack,
With our glasses in our hands and our work upon our backs;
And there’s not a trade among them all can neither mend nor mak,
Gin it wasna for the work of the weavers.


If it wasna for the weavers, what would you do,
You wouldna hae cloth that’s made o wool;
Ye wouldna hae a coat neither black nor the blue,
Gin it wasna for the work o the the weavers.

The hireman chiels, they mock us and crack aye aboots,
They say that we are thin faced, bleached like cloots;
But yet for all their mockery, they canna do wi oots,
No they canna want the work o the weavers.

There’s our rights and our slaters and glaziers and a’,
Our doctors and ministers and them that live by law;
And our friends in South America, tho them we never saw,
But we know they wear the work of the weavers.

There’s our sailors and our soldiers, we know they’re all bauld,
But if they hadna clothes, faith they couldna live for cauld;
The high and low, the rich and poor, a’body young and auld,
They widna want the work o the weavers.

There’s folk that’s independent of other tradesman work,
The women need no barbers and dykers need no clerk;
But none o them can do wi out a coat or a shirt,
No, they canna want the work o the weavers.

The weaving is a trade that never can fail,
As longs we need a cloth to keep another hale;
So let us aye be merry over a bicket of good ale,
And drink a health to the weavers.

Compare the melodic structure with this:

I must get round to posting some further info on that tune.

Also, George MacEwan wrote The Welly Boot Song to the tune, and Billy Connolly brought it to wider notice.

Seems like another 4/4 tune to me. Doesn’t make sense to me in 2/4 at all…

In Robert Fords collection "Vagabond Songs and Ballads of Scotland" (1904, Paisley) the text is given as:

1. We’re a’ met thegether here tae sit an’ tae crack,
Wi’ oor glesses in oor hands an’ oor wark upon oor back;
For there’s nae a trade amang them a’ can either mend or mak’,
Gin it wasna for the wark o’ the weavers.

If it wasna for the weavers what wad they do?
They wadna hae claith made oot o’ oor woo’;
They wadna hae a coat, neither black nor blue,
Gin it wasna for the wark o’ the weavers.

2. There’s fouk independent o’ ither tradesmen’s wark,
For women need nae barber—dykers need nae clerk;
But there’s no ane o’ them a’ but needs a coat or sark,
Which maun be the wark o’ some weaver.

3. The ploughmen lads they mock us, and speak aye aboot’s,
And say we are thin-faced, bleach’d-like clouts;
But yet for a’ their mockery they canna do with oot’s—
Na, they canna want the honourable weavers.

4. There’s smiths, and there’s wrights, and there’s masons an’ a’,
There’s doctors, and meenisters, and men that live by law,
And our friends that bide atour the sea in South America,
And they a’ need the wark o’ the weavers.

5. Our sodgers and our sailors, o’d! we mak’ them a’ bauld,
For gin they hadna claes, faith, they couldna fecht for cauld;
The high and low, the rich and puir—a’body, young and auld,
Mair or less need the wark o’ the weavers.

6. So the weavin’s a trade that never can fail,
While we aye need a clout to haud anither hale;
So let us now be merry ower a bicker o’ gude ale,
And drink tae the health o’ the weavers.

(other Chorus after sixth stanza)
For ‘t’werna the weavers what wad we do?
We wadna get claith made o’ our woo’:
And the very best o’ tailors wad get nae-thing to sew,
An’ it werena for the the honourable weavers.

And the melody differs in the Paisley edition:

T:The Wark o’ the Weavers
C:David Shaw
N:"Vagabond Songs of Scotland, Paisley 1904
D |D2 D3/2D/ B,/B,3/2 D3/2D/ |E2 G3/2G/ D2 B,B, |
DD EE D2 DD |DD BB A2 B,C |D3/2D/ D3/2D/ B,3/2D/ D3/2D/ |
E/E3/2 G3/2G/ D2 B,3/2C/ |D/D3/2 E3/2E/ D2 B3/2B/ |A4 G2 G3/2A/ |
D/D3/2 E3/2E/ D2 B3/2B/ |A4 G2 G3/2A/ |B3/2B/ B3/2B/ A2 A2 |
G2 G3/2G/ F3 F |E/E3/2 E2 D2 B2 |c/c3/2 B2 A2 z D |
DD D3/2D/ B,2 DD |E2 G2 D2 B,C |D/D3/2 E3/2E/ D2 B3/2B/ |A4 G2 z2 |]

The tune goes back a lot further than the words. The "Weavers’ March" tune (and the Burns song that stemmed from it) is linked too.
First publication seems to be Daniel Wright’s "Musical Pocket Book" from around 1716 - it appears as "The New Sweedish [sic] Dance" and apparently came via some Swedish "tumblers" who danced to the tune in a performance at a "new" playhouse, reckoned to be the Lincoln Inn Fields theatre.
There is a Danish Sønderhoning with a similar structure (For at være som man bør) and several other tunes related to Lammastide, and Jacobite/anti-Jacobite themes - even music hall version(s).
If you have access to JSTOR, you can read some claims of origin: