Volume I, song 013, page 14 - 'The Flowers of Edinburgh' -...
Volume I, song 013, page 14 - 'The Flowers of Edinburgh' - Scanned from the 1853 edition of the 'Scots Musical Museum', James Johnson and Robert Burns (Edinburgh and London: W. Blackwood & Sons, 1853)
Verse 1: 'My love was once a bonny lad, he was the flower of all his kin; The absence of his bonny face has rent my tender heart in twain. I day nor Night find no Delight; in silent tears I still complain and exclaim 'gainst those my rival foes; that ha'e ta'en from me my darling Swain.'
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.
Burns, in his notes to the 'Museum', remarks that, 'This song is one of the many effusions of Scots jacobitism. The title. .. has no manner of connection with the present verses, so I suspect there has been an older set of words, of which the title is all that remains.' Glen (1900), however, thinks it unlikely that the melody was first called 'Flowers of Edinburgh', but has been unable to find out much more of its history.