The pipe march ‘Teribus’ will be well known to many. It is often said to be the ‘Town Tune’ of the town of Hawick in the Scottish Borders. This is not so. Here we introduce, with the help of Hawick resident Matt Seattle and others, the original tune

Teribus is the iconic song and tune of the town of Hawick in the Scottish Borders. It is quite different from a tune of this name played by highland [and lowland] pipers. Until 1797 the Toun Piper and drummer played music for the Common Riding but then were substituted by fife and drum. However, a different event took place in Hawick in 1777 at which both piper and fife and drum band are said to have played. This was the opening of a new bridge, over the Slitrig, the river that runs through the town. Whether the fifes and drums were there is perhaps debatable; what does seem likely however, is that it was on this occasion that someone noted down the tune as played by the piper, Walter Ballantine. Here is a photo of the original unsigned manuscript, preserved in the Hawick Museum.

[Ed: efforts to acquire a better image have so far proved unsuccessful]

Matt Seattle, who supplied this image says of it “The manuscript in Hawick Museum is titled "The Original Set of Teribus as played by Walter Ballantine Town Piper, in 1777" and following the tune a note reads "This is the tow [sic] parts that Answer the Song" followed by an exact copy of strains 4 and 2 in that order. There is a metrical anomaly in the manuscript: in strain 1 bars 1 and 3 the note values do not quite make a full bar, so in the following transcription we have changed the first note, a dotted quaver, to a crotchet; also the key signature is changed from 1 to 2 sharps, corresponding both to the pipe scale and to the way the tune is still sung and played.”1

The Original Set of Teribus as played by Walter Ballantine Town Piper, in 1777
[Note: the manuscript key signature is 1 sharp]

It has to be said, however, that there is nothing to confirm that the manuscript itself dates back to 1777; in fact, one could argue that the text implies that it does not. The phrase ‘the original set’ suggests that by the time the manuscript was made a different ‘set’ was in vogue. Nevertheless the song as sung today remains much as ‘the two parts of the song’ given in the manuscript.

Teribus as played by the Hawick Fife and Drum Band
[This transcription and that of the Original Set by Matt Seattle]

 The Fife Band version is closely related to the song version, but with many divergent details.2
There are two songs currently sung at the Riding in Hawick. The oldest, known as ‘The Old Song’, written by Arthur Balbirnie in the 1790’s, when Balbirnie,  originally from Dunfermline, moved to Hawick . The excerpts here are from Robert Wilson’s 1825 publication A Sketch of the History of Hawick p. 343
Tiribus and Tiriodin
Tune: Drumlanrig’s March; or Tiriodin
We’ll a’ hie to the muir a-riding;
Drumlanrig1 gave it for providing
Our ancestors of martial order,
To drive the English off our border
Up wi’ Hawick, its rights and common
Up wi’ a’ the Border bowmen!
Tiribus and Tiriodin
We are up to guard the common
Now Tiriodin blaws the chanter
As rank and file the town we enter

As to the possibility that this is an updating of an earlier song, as Neil Wallace says “Drumlanrig gave it for providing/ ancestors of martial order/ to drive the English off our border” is pretty convoluted grammatically – and the “dear memorial of our valour” line doesn’t sound at all Hawick.”3

The tune title given here is Drumlanrig’s March with the alternative [title or tune?] Tiriodin. [The Tiriodin spelling more closely reflects the pronunciation than the more common Teriodin]. However, as the verse above makes clear, ‘Tiriodin’ was recognised at least by 1790’s as the tune’s title; the final line of another verse of Balbirnie’s song is ‘We’ll face the foe to Tiriodin’.
In 1819 James Hogg ‘The Ettrick Shepherd’, wrote a new extended set of verses which opens with the lines
Scotia  felt thin  ire O' Odin,
On the Bloody Field of Flodden.
with the chorus
Teribus ye Teri Odin,
Sons of Heroes Slain at Flodden,
Imitating Border Bowmen,
Aye Defend your Rights and Common.

‘When Hogg was asked about [the tune], he replied, " it's air's eternal" That's why it is often referred to as "The Eternal Air". Actually Hogg named the song "The Colour" but it is better known now as "Teribus".4
The argument about the origin of Hogg’s line ‘Teribus ye Teri Odin’ remains unresolved. The Dictionary of the Scots Language entry for Teribus has the following comment, after the quotes, [the earliest of which is that from Robert Wilson given above]:
“The source of the phrase has not been traced back to much before the beginning of the 19th c. and its orig. is obscure. The explanation given by Jam. and accepted by Murray [in Dialect of the Southern Counties of Scotland, 1873], that the words represent O.E. Týr hæbbe us, ze Týr ye Oðinn, “May [the god] Tyr keep us, both Tyr and Odin”, fails on the grounds that the gods’ names are given in their O.N. forms, not the O.E. Tīw and Wōdan, that the normal phonological development would not result in the modern pronunciation and that in any event the survival of a supposed O.E. sentence in its near orig. form for more than 700 years is barely conceivable. The explanation seems to be a piece of dubious 18th c. antiquarianism. The phr. may well be a succession of meaningless syllables meant to represent the sound of a march played on drums and bagpipes as some of the quotes suggest and as may be paralleled in the sim. Hey tutti tatie as the title of an old military march.”

Quite obviously the song, in both versions, is of deep significance to the people of Hawick: you can see the two versions being sung in two slightly different [Hogg’s song] [Balbirnie’s song]
 For completeness’ sake, here is the tune titled ‘Drumlanrig’s March’ from the Snowhill Manuscript, date uncertain, but possibly early-to-mid 19th century. There seems to be no musical connection between this tune and Teribus.

Matt Seattle adds “As for the tune more commonly known as ‘Teribus’, we have been unable to trace anything of its history before it appears in the 1954 Scots Guards book. It does seem to be related to the tune family of ‘Bobby Shaftoe’ which dates at least from the late 17th century. How that tune, if it is connected, got its new title remains as much a mystery as what that title might mean.”
Many thanks to John Dally, Matt Seattle and Bill Telfer for inspiring the debate which resulted in this article, and to Matt for seeking out and transcribing the original manuscript.5

1. The band can be seen playing this tune at watch?V=awlwy5gyf3A&feature=related.
2. aJ0HAAAAQAAJ&q=teribus#v=onepage&q=347&f=false
2. William Douglas, 6th of Drumlanrig died at Flodden; this would be his son, James, 7th of Drumlanrig.
3. 2012/02/21/1777-what-teribus-did-james-richardson-sing-from-drumlanrig-bridge/
4. http://www.hawickcallantsclub.
5. Matt Seattle and Bill Telfer can be heard playing the pipe tune at