Volume V, song 476, page 490 - 'Wae is my Heart' - Scanned...
Volume V, song 476, page 490 - 'Wae is my Heart' - Scanned from the 1853 edition of the 'Scots Musical Museum', James Johnson and Robert Burns (Edinburgh and London: W. Blackwood & Sons, 1853)
Verse 1: 'Wae is my heart, and the tear's in my e'e; Lang, lang joy's been a stranger to me: Forsaken and friendless my burden I bear, And the sweet voice o' pity ne'er sounds in my ear.'
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.
The tune to this piece is thought to be a combination of the two older melodies, 'Will ye go to Flanders' and 'Gala Water'. This song sometimes also goes by the name of 'The tear drop'. The lyrics to this piece are now attributed to Burns, but there is still a question mark over his involvement. There was very little contemporary evidence at the time to link the authorship of this piece to Burns. The extent of Burns's involvement in fragmentary songs which he recovered is often unknown. The poetry of this song, however, is universally acknowledged as beautiful.