Familiar Songs - Their Authors & Histories

300 traditional songs, inc sheet music with full piano accompaniment & lyrics.

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On the 30th of July, 1793, Eobert Burns and a friend, Mr. Syme, were travelling on horseback, "by a moor road, where savage and desolate regions extended wide around."' "The sky," says Mr. Syme, " was sympathetic with the wretchedness of the soil; it became lowering and dark, the hollow winds sighed, the lightnings gleamed, the thunder rolled. The poet enjoyed the awful scene; he spoke not a word, but seemed wrapt in meditation. What do you think he was about ? He was charging the English army along with Bruce at Bannockburn. He was engaged in the same manner on our ride home from St. Mary's Isle, and I did not disturb him. Next day he produced the following address of Bruce to his troops."
Burns says, in a letter to Mr. Thomson, dated September, 1793: " I borrowed the last stanza from the common stall edition of Wallace:
' A false usurper sinks in every foe, And liberty returns with every blow'
a stanza worthy of Homer." In another letter he says: "I do not know whether the old air of 'Hey tuttie taittie/ may rank among this number; but well I know that, with Eraser's hautboy, it has often filled my eyes with tears. There is a tradition which I have met with in many places in Scotland, that it was Robert Brace's march at the battle of Bannockburn. This. thought, in my solitary wanderings, warmed me to a pitch of enthusiasm on the theme of liberty and independence, which I threw into a kind of Scottish ode, fitted to the air, that one might suppose to be the gallant royal Scot's address to his heroic followers on that eventful morning. So may God ever defend the cause of truth and liberty as he did that day! Amen. P. S.I showed the air to Urbani, who was highly pleased with it, and begged me to make soft verses for it; but I had no idea of giving myself any trOURle upon the subject, till the accidental recollection of that glorious struggle for freedom, associated with the glowing ideas of some other struggles of the same nature, not quite so ancient, roused my rhyming mania."
Thomson answers: " Your heroic ode is to me the noblest composition of the kind in the Sottish language. I happened to dine yesterday with a party of your friends, to whom I read it. They were all charmed with it, entreated me to find a suitable air for it, and reprobated the idea of giving it a tune so totally devoid of interest or grandeur as ' Hey tuttie taittie.'"

E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III