Volume V, song 475, page 489 - 'Bannocks o' bear meal' -...
Volume V, song 475, page 489 - 'Bannocks o' bear meal' - Scanned from the 1853 edition of the 'Scots Musical Museum', James Johnson and Robert Burns (Edinburgh and London: W. Blackwood & Sons, 1853)
Verse 1: 'Bannocks o' bear meal Bannocks o' barley Here's to the Highlandman's bannock's o' barley. Wha, in a brulzie, will first cry a parley? Never the lads wi' the bannocks o' barley.' Chorus: 'Bannocks o' bear meal Bannocks o' barley Here's to the Highlandman's bannocks o' barley.'
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.
Although this song is now attributed to Burns, there is still a question mark over his authorship. It remains unattributed to Burns in the 'Museum' and there are few references to the song in his personal correspondence. The original lyrics were first written by Lord Newbottle in 1688 as a satire of the English Civil War and then the lyrics were altered to form a Jacobite song. Many of the lyrics in the 'Museum' were altered, improved and added to by Burns and this may be the case here. The original 1688 melody is entitled 'Cakes of Crowdy'. The next reference to the song is in Margaret Sinkler's manuscript music book of 1710 and is called 'Bonox of beare meal, Cakes of Croudie'. It is thought that the tune is based on another older song called 'The Killogie'.