Volume I, song 002, page 2 - 'An thou were my ain thing' -...
Volume I, song 002, page 2 - 'An thou were my ain thing' - Scanned from the 1853 edition of the 'Scots Musical Museum', James Johnson and Robert Burns (Edinburgh and London: W. Blackwood & Sons, 1853)
Verse 1: 'An thou were my ain thing, O, I wou'd love thee I wou'd love thee. An thou were my ain thing, How dearly wou'd I love thee! Then I wou'd clasp thee in my arms, Then I'd secure thee from all harms, For above mortals thou hast charms, How dearly do I love thee!'
The 'Scots Musical Museum' is the most important of the numerous eighteenth- and nineteenth-century collections of Scottish song. When the engraver James Johnson started work on the second volume of his collection in 1787, he enlisted Robert Burns as contributor and editor. Burns enthusiastically collected songs from various sources, often expanding or revising them, whilst including much of his own work. The resulting combination of innovation and antiquarianism gives the work a feel of living tradition.
William Thomson, in his 'Orpheus Caledonius' (first edition published in 1725) attributes the melody of this song was to David Rizzio (c.1533-66), the Italian secretary to Mary, Queen of Scots. There is, however, no evidence to support this. It is certainly an old song, however, since an early version of the melody was included in the Straloch Manuscript (c.1627), entitled 'An thou wer myn own thing'. (Glen, 1900).