Volume V, song 464, page 477 - 'O May thy morn' - Scanned...
Volume V, song 464, page 477 - 'O May thy morn' - Scanned from the 1853 edition of the 'Scots Musical Museum', James Johnson and Robert Burns (Edinburgh and London: W. Blackwood & Sons, 1853)
Verse 1: 'O May thy morn was ne'er sae sweet, As the mirk night o' December, For sparkling was the rosy wine, And private was the chamber: And dear was she, I dare na name, But I will ay remember. And dear was she I dare na name, But I will ay remember.' The ideas of murky, dark and obscure are all conveyed by the Scots 'mirk'. 'Ay' means always or forever.
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.
This song is attributed to Robert Burns under this title. It is thought to have been written within the last three years of the poet's life and published posthumously in the 'Museum'. Stenhouse, the later editor of the 'Museum', claimed to have the manuscript of the song in his possession. The tune is thought to be based on the melodies entitled 'Andro' and his cutty gun' and 'The Boyne water'. The melody here also went on to form the basis of Hogg's song 'The wee wee German Lairdie'.