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A Dictionary of the Older Scottish Tongue (up to 1700)

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First published 2000 (DOST Vol. VIII).
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

Sang, Song, n. Also: sange; songe, soung. [Chiefly north. and north. midl. ME sang (Cursor M.), midl. and south. song (Layamon), OE sang, song.]See also Evinsang n., Plain-sang n. and priksang Prik adj.2 a.

1. The action or activity of singing; singing as an art; vocal music. b. The singing of a bird or birds.(1) 1375 Barb. iii 178.
In all my tyme Ik hard neuer in sang na ryme Tell off a man that [etc.]
a1400 Leg. S. xvi 803.
Of ane hour hale the space Vith gret delyt of angel sange Fed scho was
Ib. xxvi 656.
Warldly sang and vanyte
?1438 Alex. ii 5071.
Thay maid … lauchter and sang
c1450-2 Howlat 943 (A).
Dame Natur has … Ascendit … with solace & sang
a1500 Gol. & Gaw. 1055.
Wes nowthir solace nor sang thair sorow to soft
c1500-c1512 Dunb. (OUP) 147/16. 1513 Doug. vi xvi 25.
With hir ythand sweit sang and caralyng
1531 Bell. Boece I 233.
With hevinly and delitious sang
1537 Lynd. Depl. Magd. 89.(b) a1500 K. Hart 312.
To angell song and hewinlie armony
c1500-c1512 Dunb. (OUP) 109/22.
Wyth sowne of clarioun, organe, song and sence
(2) 1561 Rentale Dunkeld. (SHS) 342.
Ther maister of grammer and sang
1582 Kirkcaldy B. Rec. 72.
Prowyding thar be na uther scoill teachit in this toun, bot sang onlie
b. c1400 Troy-bk. ii 1654.
To the swete sang of foules seire
a1500 Henr. Fab. 1877.
And for till heir … Thair [sc. the birds'] cairfull sang and lamentatioun
a1500 Seven S. 1962.
The pyot … sesit hir sang & maid na glewe
Ib. 2562 heading.
The fader that kest his son in the se for the birdis sang
c1500 Fyve Bestes 216.
For all thar trast was on the cokis sang
c1500-c1512 Dunb. (OUP) 60/4.
I hard a merle with mirry notis sing A sang of lufe
Id. Twa Mar. W. 7. a1508 Kennedy Pass. Christ 422. 1513 Doug. xii Prol. 244.
Tender twystis trymlyt on the treis For byrdis sang
Ib. xiii Prol. 35.
The lark discendis … Syngand hir complyng sang
c1550 Lynd. Meldrum 1013. 1549 Compl. 39/17.
The dou croutit hyr sad sang
1560 Rolland Seven S. 8421.(b) a1500 Lanc. 13.
Throw birdis songe with opine wox one hy
Ib. 66.
Quhill al the wood resonite of thar [sc. birds'] songe
a1568 Bann. MS 229b/42. a1624 Edinb. Univ. MS La. ii 319.
O blisit burd quhois soring song [etc.]

2. Something sung; a song, as composed, sung, played, etc.; something expressed in song or ? rhyme.(a) a1400 Leg. S. xviii 933.
Sangis ȝa of lychery Vile & als dewylry
Ib. l 439.
& yhone Sibile sang [ed. saug] can say [L. Sibilla quoque sic ait:] … That God that hangit one the tree … happy is he
a1500 Peblis to Play 57.
He cleikit vp ane hie ruf sang
c1460 Regim. Princ. 4 (Fairf.).
The sang is sueit quhen that the sound is suyth
a1500 Henr. Fab. 515.
I will put on my haly-dayis clais … Syne chant this sang, ‘Wes neuer wedow sa gay!’
Id. Test. Cress. 243.
Mercurius … Setting sangis and singand merilie
Id. Age & Yowth 7.
I mete A mirry man … Singand this sang that [etc.]
1490 Irland Mir. II 110/29.
Quhen … all … maneris pertenand to him ar concordand … and consonaunt as the voces and the notis in the sang
c1500-c1512 Dunb. (OUP) 141/28.
Sangis to mak undir the levis grene
Ib. 147/23.
Scho playit sangis so duilfull to heir
1533 Gau 16/10.
Thay that prouokis ony ewil desir … with sangis or wordis or foul takine
1533 Boece 161.
Sonyt war trumpettis, … sangis and rymys war rehersit and song with merynes [etc.]
1551 Acts II 488/2.
Prentaris … that … prentis … ballattis sangis blasphematiounis rymes
1567 Sat. P. iii 43.
[He could] Sangis set with diuers tunis expres
1572 Sempill Sat. P. xxxviii 33. c1550-c1580 Art of Music 6.
For passaig of the sangis to and fro
1594 Charteris Wall. Pref. 173.
How manfully he behauit him self, certaine sangs asweill in France it self, as in Scotland beiris witnessing
1587-99 Hume 69/32. 1609 Stirling Presb. in Hume xxxiv.
To answer for … singing of superstitious and prophane sangis
(b) 1591 St. A. Kirk S. 705.
For singing of bawdry songis
(c) 1649 Echt Kirk S. in Strathbogie Presb. xiii.
James Arthour, kirk officer, being delait for singing off nevyeir soungis on nevyeiris ewin

b. Freq., a religious or spiritual song.(a) 1490 Irland Mir. I 32/24.
This haly sang and orisone [sc. the Paternoster] … that Jhesus withe His haly mouthe [sueitlie sang]
Ib. 119/25.
The angellis sall sing the haly chansoune and sang of pes
1531 Bell. Boece I 232.
With sangis and ympnis, and othir divine cerimonyis
c1520-c1535 Nisbet I 9.
The thankfull sangis of Marie and Zachary
1561 Q. Kennedy Compendious Ressonyng (ed.) 177/21. 1567 G. Ball. 1.
Be singing of the psalmes and spiritual sangis
Ib. 24.
Followis ane sang of our coruiptit nature
Ib. 34.
Sinnaris, vnto my sang aduert, Quhilk Christ [etc.]
Ib. 21, etc. 1587-99 Hume 11/15.(b) a1568 Bann. MS I p. 22 colophon.
Followis the song of the Virgin Mary callit magnificat anima mea dominum
a1578 Pitsc. I 379/26.
The bischopis, abbottis [etc.] … maid great solemnitie … witht mese songis and playing on the organis

c. A poetic composition or narrative, more generally.(a) c1420 Wynt. vii 3618.
This falyhyd fra he deyd suddanly, This sang wes made off hym for-thi
1513 Doug. ii Prol. 29.
Thy scharp sugurate sang Virgiliane
Ib. vii xi 5.
Ȝhe Musys now, … Entone my sang
1567 Sat. P. vi 129.
To thee, my Lord Regent, I turne my sang
(b) c1590 Fowler I 138/8.
Your iust disdaynes of reasoun now enclynes To cast my songs asyde and thame to ryve

d. transf. A piece of music played on or characteristic of a particular instrument. a1500 Henr. Orph. 136.
O dulfull harpe with mony dolly stryng Turne all thi mirth and musik in murnyng And ces of all thi subtell sangis sweit

3. In various fig., transf., and allusive uses.To mak na sang of, to say nothing about, keep silent about. (Cf. to mak a sang (= fuss, to-do) about, of or ower something, in the mod. dial.).To sing the samin or ane sang, to express the same opinion, to declare agreement.(1) c1420 Wynt. vi 1983.
Off all hys thowcht he mad na sang Bot prewaly [etc.]
(2) a1500 Prestis of Peblis 142.
And that ȝe think vnressoun or wrang, Wee al and sundrie sings the samin sang
1580 Hay in Cath. Tr. (STS) 63/15.
Gyf ye sing all ane sang concerning the iudiciall lawes of Moyses
(3) a1500 Peblis to Play 247.
How sayis the sang? Thair salbe mirth at our meting ȝit
Ib. 255.
Had thair bein mair made of this sang Mair suld I to ȝow say
a1500 Seven S. 797.
Wa was the hart of the emprys Scho held chalmer with lytill sang, Gretand and murnand
1540 Lynd. Sat. 75 (Ch.).
Till our rymis be rung And our mistonit sangis [B. songis] be sung
1562-3 Winȝet I 45/6.
That mony heris and knauis His Worde … and dois not thairefter, bot turnis it in ane sang of thair mouth, thair hartis being geuin tyl auarice
1596 Dalr. II 64/9.
Thay … persuade him [etc.] … The king … heiris thair sueit sang plesantlie
1633 Kirkcaldy Kirk S. in Coll. Witchcraft 114.
Thou has gotten the woman's song laid, as thou promised … Many pretty men has thou putten down both in ships and boats; thou has gotten the woman's song laid now … I have keeped thee from doing many ill turnes. Thou has now laid the woman's song
(b) 1653 Binning Wks. 597.
The … gospel … is a set of pleasant melodious songs that may … refresh us till we come unto the city where we shall all sing the song of the Lamb. What a song is liberty to captives … Ye would all think salvation … a sweet song … Many listen to the song of justification, but they will not abide to hear out all the song
(4) c1590 Fowler I 380/53.
The songe Of sousinge seas

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"Sang n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 18 May 2024 <>



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