Volume V, song 490, page 505 - 'The Taylor' - Scanned from...
Volume V, song 490, page 505 - 'The Taylor' - Scanned from the 1853 edition of the 'Scots Musical Museum', James Johnson and Robert Burns (Edinburgh and London: W. Blackwood & Sons, 1853)
Verse 1: 'For weel he kend the way O, The way O, the way O. For weel he kend the way O, The lassie's heart to win O! The Taylor he cam here to sew, And weel he kend the way to woo, For ay he pree'd the lassie's mou, As he gade but and ben O!' Chorus: 'For weel he kend the way O, The way O, the way O, For weel he kend the way O, The lassie's heart to win O.'
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.
As with so many of the songs in the 'Museum', this song has long been associated with Burns. It is unclear, however, whether he wrote it or whether he merely collected or revised it for inclusion in the 'Museum'. As to the tune, John Glen wrote in his book 'Early Scottish Melodies' (1900) that 'this song is adapted to a tune called 'The Drummer''. Prior to the 'Museum', the melody appeared in book three of John Walsh's 'Caledonian Country Dances' (c. 1741).