Complete Songs Of Robert Burns - online book

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422
HISTORICAL NOTES
Bairdie of the seventeenth century is the same tune. He retails a traditional story of a pedestrian who, crossing Glasgow churchyard one moonshine night, saw the Devil and a male acquaintance who had recently died dancing round the tombstone of the dead man, his majesty playing on the fiddle Whistle o'er the lave o't. Another proof, if any were wanted, that the devil knows and appreciates good music. The tune is said to be in Blaiiie's MS., 1692, which is not improbable. According to Burns, John Bruce, a Highland fiddler who lived in Dumfries, composed the air about the beginning of the eighteenth century. (See Letter to Thomson, Oct. 1794.)
No. 210. O, some will court and compliment. Scots Musical Museum, 1792, No. joj, entitled John, come kiss me now. 'Mr. Burns's old words,' (Law's MS. List). The MS. is in the British Museum. A fragment of eight lines in Herd's Scots Songs, 1769, 31} was the model of BurnS's verses. The tenacity of life in a popular song is illustrated here, for the tune and verses have been in continuous use for the last 350 years. A parody of twenty-six stanzas is in the Gude and Godlie Ballads, 1567, and it is an example of a Reformation song referred to in the note on No. 212. The first four lines of Herd begin this early song, and two other stanzas of the religious imitation may serve as a specimen :
' The Lord thy God I am              ' My prophetis call, my preichouris cry,
That Johne dois the call;                Johne, cum kis me now,
johne representit man,                   Johne, cum kis me by and by,
Be grace celestiall,                          And mak no moir adow.'
It is remarkable that no verses oijohn, come kiss me now have been found in England, although the tune has been preserved there. Numerous references are made to the latter in English literature, but always as a dance. In A woman killed with kindness, 1600, Sisly says ' I love no dance so well as John, come kiss me now.' In'Burton's Anatomy of Melancholy (1621) 1893, iii. 180, is ' Yea, many times this love will make old men and women that have more toes than teeth, dance John, come kiss me now.' In 'Tis merry when gossips meet, 1609, is said ' Such store of ticking galliards I do vow; not an old dance, but John, come kiss me now' In a song in Westminster Drollery, 1671, 49, beginning ' My name is honest Harry' is the following verse :
' The fiddlers shall attend us,
And first play, John, come kiss me;
And when that we have danced a round,
They shall play, Hit or misse me.'
In Philips' Don Quixote, 1687, is said ' all naturally singing Walsingham, and whistling, John, come kiss me now' A copy of the music is in the Fitzwilliam Virginal Book c. 1650, with a number of variations composed by Will. Byrd. But in an earlier book of MS. Airs and Sonnets at Trinity College, Dublin (F. 5. 13, pp. 55 and 56) is the tnne with variations of a song of thirteen stanzas in the Scottish phraseology of the sixteenth century. I copy the tune and the verses, now both printed for the first time: