Complete Songs Of Robert Burns - online book

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has not been found earlier than in Playford's Original Scotch Tunes, 1700, the first printed collection of Scottish music of any kind. The title of the tune there is For old long Gine (sic) my jo, which corresponds with the first line of the refrain of the seventeenth-century ballad cited above, On old long syne, my jo. In all later collections of music of the eighteenth century, except one, the title is invariably Auld lang syne. The tune is in Sinkler's MS., 1710; Orpheus Caledonius, 1725, No. }i; Ramsay's Musick, c. 1726; Watts's Musical Miscellany, 1730, iv. 46; Caledonian Pocket Companion, 1751, I'll. 21; Scots Musical Museum, 1787, No. 2j, with Ramsay's words, and later in the same work with Burns's verses. The copies in these and other collections vary more or less from one another, but all of them except that in the Museum of 1796 close upon the fifth of the scale. This latter is the sImplest form of the melody divested of superfluous notes. The exception to the invariable title is the copy in Thomson's Scotish Airs, 1799, pi, where it bears the name of The hopeless lover set to the song of Burns ' Now Spring has clad the grove in green.' The music is an exact reprint of that in the Museum, 1796, and Thomson probably changed the name to conceal his indebtedness to the work which he styled a vulgar publication.
Variations in Johnson's Museum : verse 1, line 4,' and auld lang syne'; chorus line I, 'For auld lang syne,' &c.; v. 3,1. 3, 'fitt'; v. 4,1.I,' in'; 1. 2, 'morning.'
No. 234. Should auld acquaintance be forgot (Thomson's set). Scotish Airs, 1799, 68 • ' From an old MS. in the editor's possession.' Select Melodies, 1822, ii. ig ; 'From a MS. in the editor's possession.' The difference in the description of the manuscripts in the two publications of Thomson has already been noticed. With one or two slight variations this is the version in Currie's Burns, 1800, iv. i2j. The principal variations from -the Museum copy is the substitution of ' my dear' for ' my jo ' in the chorus; and the second stanza in the Museum is the last in Scotish Airs. This latter is more often printed in modem collections although the Museum copy is more radiant and attractive, and the better of the two.
___The present popular melody was first attached to the song in Scotish Airs,
and, although Thomson is generally believed to be solely responsible for selecting it, there is reason for saying that Burns was consulted. That he was familiar with the air will be evident from what follows. Thomson obtained
»"" the music from the Scots Musical Museum, and of this there can be no doubt. On comparing the music in our text with that of song No. 144, two passing notes in the first part of the tune are the only variations from O can ye labor lea,—the music of the chorus of Auld lang syne being a close copy of the other. It is Important to point this out, which has not been done before, because Thomson made an ambiguous statement as to the source of his melody, which has led up to the unwarranted claim that William Shield composed the air. Neither Thomson, Stenhouse, Graham, Chappell, nor any other expert has said so, and Shield himself, who died in 1829, never claimed it. Stenhouse, sImply repeating Thomson, says: 'Mr. Thomson got the words arranged to an air introduced by Shield in his overture to the opera of Rosina, 1783. The word in italics or its equivalent has always been used by writers on the subject, but the meaning was overlooked and deflected by the public, and gradually the supposititious pretension of Shield was alleged as a fact; and Burns's editors, not knowing the merits of the case, have given it currency. Chappell, who wished it to be an English air, did not trouble himself to correct the uncritical, and chiefly relying on the ambiguous statement of Thomson he maintained what was not denied, that the air is in Rosina. He did not challenge the accuracy of the following paragraph by Stenhouse that 'Mr. Shield, however, borrowed this air, almost note for note, from the third and fourth strains of the Scotish Strathspey in Cumming's collection, under the title of The Miller's Wedding] but he disputed the statement that Cumming's