Complete Songs Of Robert Burns - online book

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was written to commemorate a festive meeting which took place in the autumn of 1789. 'This air is Masterton's; the song mine. The occasiori of it was this: Mr. William Nicol, of the" High School, Edinburgh, during the autumn vacation being at Moffat, honest Allan, who was at that time on a visit to Dalswinton, and I went to pay Nicol a visit. We had such a joyous meeting, and Mr. Masteiton and I agreed, each in our own way, that we should celebrate the business' {Interleaved Museum). The verses and music were forthwith sent to the Museum. Nicol died on April 21,1797, and Masterton in 1799. Currie, in Works, 1800, lamented that the three honest fellows who took part in the festival, all men of uncommon talents, were now under the turf. Burns probably found the model of his song in Thefumblers rant, in the fourth volume of the Tea-Table Miscellany, 1740, the fifth stanza of which is as follows:—
' Here's a health to John Mackay we'll drink,
To Hughie, Andrew, Rob, and Tarn ; We'll sit and drink, we'll nod and wink,
It is o'er soon for us to gang. Foul fa' the cock, he's spilt the play,
And I do trow he's but a fool, We'll sit awhile, 'tis lang to day,
For a' the cocks they rave at Yool.'
The Baroness Nairn, the authoress of The land 0' the leal, projected a bowdler­ized edition of Burns's songs, but fortunately abandoned the idea. She was the anonymous editor of The Scottish Minstrel, where many of her finest songs were first printed. The publisher on his own responsibility inserted Willie brew'd a peck 0' maut, but Lady Nairn strongly disapproved of the selection, and it was suppressed in the next edition.
The Tune is a copy from the original in the Scots Musical Museum ; words and music are also in Ritson's Scotish Songs, 1794, i. 2}o, and Dale's Scotch Songs, 1794, I'll. IJ2. Use and selection have divested the melody of the original superfluous passing notes which the singers of last century considered graceful and artistic. It is Improved in modern collections; written in the modern scale it is easily harmonized, and many composers with more or less success have made it into a three or four part song. Both verses and music are inspirations.
Ho. 236. No churchman am I for to rail and to write. First Edinburgh edition, 1787, _y6\ Tune—Prepare my dear brethren,Sec; also Scots Musical Museum, 1803, No. jSy : ' By R. Burns,'with music. This song is neither better nor worse than the average bacchanalian tol-de-rol ditty of the eighteenth century on which it is framed.
On October 1, 1781, Burns was made a Master in the Tarbolton Lodge of Freemasons, and the last stanza was specially written for the craft. The wrong tune The lazy mist is printed in the Museum. That in the text has long been popular with the Freemasons. It is entitled the Freemasons' health in Watts's Musical Miscellany, 1730, I'll. 72, and begins, Come, let us prepare we brothers that are: while it is called The freemasons' march in Aird's Airs, 1782, i. No. lyj. It was well known in the West of Scotland, the children in the streets singing it to the rhyme:—
' Hey the merry Masons, and ho the merry Masons "Hey the merry Masons goes marching along,' &c, &c. A humorous song, with the music, is printed in Durfey's Pills, 1719, ii. 2jo, entitled, On the Queen'sprogress to the Bath. It is named The enter dappren­tice''s song in a Masons' Song Book, 1790. For tune, see No. jap.
No. 237. O, rattlin, roarin "Willie. Scots Musical Museum, 1788, No. 194, signed ' Z,' with the music of Rattlin, roarin Willie. This is an old unprinted song with corrections and additions. ' The last stanza of this song is