Complete Songs Of Robert Burns - online book

360+ songs with lyrics, sheet music, historical notes & glossary.

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356
HISTORICAL NOTES
Naime's song The lass of Gowrie. As Loch Eireachd Side it is in McGlashan's Reels, 1786, 46. It is also in Aird's Airs, 178S, I'll. No. 54). It is probably the original of the air which is now usually set to the song ' I'm o'er young to marry yet.'
No. 16. Altho' thou maun never be mine. Thomson's Scotish Airs, 1799, 7/. 'Written for this work by Robert Burns. Air, Here's a health to them that's awa.' Burns's letter enclosing this song to Thomson was written in May, 1796. Rheumatism, cold, and fever were a terrible combination, and Jessie Lewars, an orphan eighteen.years of age, voluntarily became his nurse. She acted as an eldest daughter to Mrs. Burns, and as a mother to the poet's children. Her attention to Burns was unflagging and incessant; her devotion much affected him, and he repaid her with a love-song, the only coin he had, and a copy of the four printed volumes of the Scots Musical Museum, now in the possession of the Earl of Rosebery. In his letter to Thomson, he writes: 'I once mentioned to you an air, which I have long admired, Here 's a health to them that's awa, hiney, but I forgot if you took any notice of it. I have just been trying to suit it with verses, and I beg leave to recommend the air to your attention once more.' The following couplet in Here 's a health is exquisite:— ' Thou art sweet as the smile when fond lovers meet, And soft as their parting tear, Jessy.'
A corrected copy of the song was found among Bnrns's papers, containing the last stanza not in the copy sent to Thomson. Burns had previously written a political song for the air (see Song No. 2S4).
Ho. 17. The Catrine woods were yellow seen. Scots Musical Museum, 1790, No. 276, with the music of the Braes 0' Ballochmyle. This autumn song was written for one of the daughters of Sir John Whitefoord, Reliques, 377. Ballochmyle had been long in the family, but the disastrous failure of the Ayr Bank in 1772, of which Whitefoord was a partner, obliged him to sell the estate. It is situated on the right bank of the river Ayr, with the Catrine woods on the opposite side. Burns had to pass Ballochmyle and the Catrine woods in his solitary circular walks from Mossgiel.
The melody is the composition of Allan Masterton, and is unconsciously modelled on the psalm-tune style. It is in the modern scale throughout, quite distinct from the quaint progressions of the anonymous folk-tunes. Masterton was, however, more successful in settin'g Burns's verse to music than the other musical friends of the poet.
Ho. 18. Stay, my charmer, can you leave me ? Scots Musical Museum, 1788, No. 129, signed 'B.' Tune, An Gille dubh ciar dubh. Nothing is known of the origin of this song, which is among the Burns's MSS. in the British Museum. It is most likely a souvenir of the Highland tour written for a pretty sImple Gaelic air, Anglice, The black-haired lad, in McDonald's High­land Vocal Airs, 1784, No. 142.
M"o. 19. My heart was ance as blythe and free. Scots Musical Museum, 1788, No. joj, signed 'X,' entitled, To the weaver's gin ye go. The fol­lowing note is in the Interleaved Museum: ' The chorus of this song is old, the rest of it is mine. Here, once for all, let me apologize for many silly compositions of mine in this work. Many beautiful airs wanted words; in the hurry of other avocations, if I could string a parcel of rhymes together anything near tolerable, I was fain to let them pass. He must be an excellent poet indeed, whose every performance is excellent' {Reliques, 1808, ajj). This explains the difficulty in precisely ascertaining how much original matter Burns put into songs which previously existed. In the present case he adopted an old chorus; in some songs disjuncted portions were old, in others everything but the title was original. A story connecting Jean Armour with this song is not authenticated.






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