Volume I, song 007, page 8 - 'The beds of Sweet Roses' -...
Volume I, song 007, page 8 - 'The beds of Sweet Roses' - Scanned from the 1853 edition of the 'Scots Musical Museum', James Johnson and Robert Burns (Edinburgh and London: W. Blackwood & Sons, 1853)
Verse 1: 'As I was a walking one morning in May, The little birds were singing delightful and gay, the little birds were singing delightful and gay, where I and my true love did often sport and play, down among the beds of sweet roses, where I and my true love did often sport and play, down among the beds of sweet roses.'
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.
Robert Burns believed this was the first time this song had been printed, and he remembers it being popular in Ayrshire when he was a boy. He remembers hearing 'those fanatics, the Buchanites, sing some of their nonsensical rhymes, which they dignify with the name of hymns, to this air.' The Buchanites were a sect, originating in Irvine, who were led by a Mrs Elspeth Buchan. She claimed to have been immortal and that she could give her followers immortality by breathing on them. After her natural death in 1791 her followers quickly dispersed.