Complete Songs Of Robert Burns - online book

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

Home Main Menu Singing & Playing Order & Order Info Support Search Voucher Codes

Share page  Visit Us On FB

Previous Contents Next
406                           HISTORICAL NOTES
The tune of a forgotten and now unknown song, entitled I have waked the winter's nights, corresponding to a line in Burns's song, is in a Dutch music book, Friesche Lust-ll'of, 1634. The song in the Tea-Table Miscellany may probably have been sung to that tune, or another, Carlin, is your daughter ready? in Aird's Airs, 1782, i. No. 24.
No. 156. The Winter it is past. Scots Musical Museum, 1788, No. 200, entitled The winter it is past. Cromek printed the first two stanzas in trie Reliques, 1808,446, and other versions vary. Burns wrote only the second stanza, and corrected the first; the rest was printed before his time as a stall-ballad. The song of seven stanzas is in the Herd MS. Dr. Petrie has copied it into the Ancient Music of Ireland. From the beauty of the melody it had a wide range of popularity; Dean Christie took it down from the singing of a native of Banffshire, and inserted the words and music (much different from our text) in Traditional Ballad Airs, 1876, i. 114. The original song (Imperfectly authenticated) belongs to the middle of the eighteenth century, and was written on a highwayman called Johnson, who was hung in 1750 for robberies committed in the Curragh of Kildare. The tune is in the Caledonian Pocket Companion, 1759, x. o. Both poetry and music, so far as dates are concerned, make it a Scottish song.
No. 157. Comin thro' the rye, poor body. Scots Musical Museum, 1796, No. 417, signed ' B.' ' This song was written by Burns' (Stenhouse, Illustrations, p. J77). Burns wrote against the title : ' Tune, Miller's Wedding—a Strathspey' (Gray s MS- Lists). Evidence exists that the bob of this jingle was very popular in Scotland in the eighteenth century. A private version of the song is in the Merry Muses. A later edition of the Museum states that Comin thro' the rye was * written for this work by Robert Burns.' Chappell, with patriotic fervour, tried to show that a pantomime song, with the title, &c, entered in Stationers' Hall, June 6, 1796 (Burns died on July 21) was the original of the class. But (1) Burns was then very ill, (2) his Merry Muses copy was much earlier than the date named, and (3) he was acquainted with a considerable portion of the posthumous fifth volume of the Museum, printed December, 1796. Chappell's object was to annex the tune to England, it being a variant of Auld lang syne. Comin thro' the rye has been popular in England since the close of the eighteenth century, and it renewed the imitations of the ' Scots' snap.'
For the tune and its variants, see Nos. 144 and 234. In Bremner's Reels, 1759, 41, it is entitled The Miller's Wedding.
No.168. Wae is my heart, and the tear's in my e'e. Scots Musical Museum, 1796, No. 476. The holograph MS. is in the British Museum. No reference to this song is in the poet's writings. Stenhouse states that Burns communi­cated the melody, which is very beautiful, to the editor of the Museum, where it was originally published. I have not found it earlier.
No. 159. O lassie, are ye sleepin yet? Currie, Works, 1800, iv. 220. Tune, Let me in this ae night. Scotish Airs, 1805, 136. MS. is in the Brechin Castle collection. A version of a song in Herd's Scottish Songs, 1776, ii. 167, was altered by Burns to fit it for presentation in the Museum, where it appeared in 1792, No. 311. The MS. of this is in the British Museum. Burns rewrote it in August, 1793, but he did not think it worthy of preservation, and cast it aside. In September, 1794, he tried again, and wrote three stanzas, but with the same Tesult. Finally, the song in the text was transmitted to Thomson in February, 1795, styled by Burns, 'Another trial at your favourite air.' The first stanza and the chorus are from the old song; the rest is original. The following fourth stanza of the second part was suppressed by Burns:— ' My kith and kin look down on me, A sImple lad of high degree; Sae I maun try frae love to flee Across the Taging main, jo.'