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
Holiday as the title of a ballad or dance tune. In England, two different melodies served for numerous ballads of the Peg-a-Ramsay class, but neither is identical with that of Iiuras's verses. The earliest specimen of the English melody is in Ballet's Lute Book, a MS. of uncertain date, the other is in a MS. by Dr. John Bull, entitled Little Pegge of Ramsie, known later as Watton Town's End, or 0, London is a fine town, in the Dancing Master, 1665, and with the song in Pills, 1719, v. IJ9. The music is reprinted in Chappell's Popular Music, p. 218. The Scottish tune in the Museum, 1803, with Burns's sonw is entirely different from the English Air. I have not found it in any earlier music book.
No. 195. The taylor he cam here to sew. Scots Musical Museum, 1796, No. 490. The MS. is in the British Museum. A song in Herd's Scots Songs, 1769, }iS, entitled The tailor gave only a bare suggestion to Burns, neither the subject nor the rhythm being identical with that in the text. In the MS. he informs the editor that the tune The Drummer is in Aird's Airs, 1782, i. No. 129, and goes on to instruct him as follows: ' Only remember that the second part of the tune, as Aird has set it, goes here to the first part of the song; and of course Aird's first part goes to the chorus' (R. B.). The in­struction was carried out with a little variation from the melody in Aird, which is as in our text. The music is also in Stewart's Reels, 1762, 28, and Ross's Heels, ij8o,j2. It is said to be also in Walsh's Caledonian Country Dances, c. 1741.
No. 196. O, steer her up, and haud her gaun. Scots Musical Museum, 1803, No.J04. 'Written for this work by Robert Burns.' 'Mr. Burns's old words' (Law's MS. List). In Ramsay's Miscellany, 1725, is a garbled and disconnected song of the title, which Herd copied into Scots Sengs, 1769, 181. Stenhouse says ' Ramsay very properly suppressed the old song, enough of which is still well known' (Lllustraiions, p. 441). Burns wrote all but the first four lines, and put it wholly in Scottish orthography.
The tune Steer her up, a seventeenth century production, is said to be in Guthrie's MS. It is in Playford's Original Scots Tunes, 1700; Sinhler's MS., 1710; McGibbon's Scots Tunes, 1742, 7; Oswald's Companion, 1745, ii. aj ; and Aird's Airs, 1782, i. No. 118. The first half of Steer her up is in the tune Scerdustis in the Skene MS., c. 1630.
No.-197. What can a young lassie? Scots Musical Museum, 1792, No. Ji6, signed ' R,' entitled What can a young lassie do wi' an auld man ? The MS. is in the British Museum. In Gray's MS. List—' Mr. B.—words.'
A variation of the subject of the song is four lirjes in the Herd MS., as follows, now printed for the first time:—
' Kiss ye Jean, kiss ye Jean;— Never let an auld man kiss ye Jean, An auld man's nae man till a young quean;— Never let an auld man kiss ye Jean.'
Holbein made a wood-cut of this very old episode in human life for Erasmus's Praise of Folly, There is an English ballad on the subject about two hundred and fifty years old. The earliest copy is a black letter broadside of the seventeenth century, entitled ' The young woman's complaint, or a caveat to all maids t-o have a care hozv 'they be married to old men. The tune is What should a young woman do with an old man, &c, or The Tyrant. London, printed for W. Gilbertson in Giltspur Street Without Newgate.' It is referred to in a medley in Durfey's Pills, 1719. This street ballad is better than the average of the rhyming literature of the flying stationers. I cannot identify the English melody or its alternative The Tyrant, but it is not at all likely to be the tune in the text, which is in Oswald's Companion, 1754, vi./, and for which Burns wrote his song.
E e