‘He’s na heavy. He’s mi brither.’

From Wikipedia:

“He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother” is a ballad written by Bobby Scott and Bob Russell. Scott and Russell were introduced to each other by Johnny Mercer, at a California nightclub. Although Russell was dying of lymphoma and the pair met only three times, they managed to collaborate on the song.

The Hollies’ recording, sung by Allan Clarke with Elton John on piano, was released on 26 September 1969.

James Wells, Moderator of the United Free Church of Scotland, tells the story of a little girl carrying a big baby boy in his 1884 book The Parables of Jesus. Seeing her struggling, someone asked if she wasn’t tired. With surprise she replied: “No, he’s not heavy; he’s my brother.”

In a 1918 publication by Ralph Waldo Trine titled The Higher Powers of Mind and Spirit, Trine relates the following anecdote: “Do you know that incident in connection with the little Scottish girl? She was trudging along, carrying as best she could a boy younger, but it seemed almost as big as she herself, when one remarked to her how heavy he must be for her to carry, when instantly came the reply: ‘He’s na heavy. He’s mi brither.'”

The first editor of Kiwanis magazine, Roe Fulkerson, published a column in September 1924 carrying the title “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother”, the first use of the phrase exactly as it is rendered in the song title.

In the 1940s, the words, adapted as “He ain’t heavy, Father, he’s my brother”, were taken as a slogan for Boys Town children’s home by founder Father Edward Flanagan. According to the Boys Town website, the phrase as used by Boys Town was said to Fr. Flanagan in 1918 by one of the residents while carrying another up a set of stairs. The boy being carried is said to have had polio and worn leg braces.”

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