Volume VI, song 512, page 528 - 'The Battle of Harlaw' -...
Volume VI, song 512, page 528 - 'The Battle of Harlaw' - Scanned from the 1853 edition of the 'Scots Musical Museum', James Johnson and Robert Burns (Edinburgh and London: W. Blackwood & Sons, 1853)
Verse 1: 'Frae Dunidier as I cam through, Doun by the hill o' Banochie, Alangst the lands of Garioch: Grit pitie 'twas to hear and see. The noys and dulesum harmonie, That e'er that dreiry day did daw, Cryand the Corynoch on hie, Alas! Alas! for the Harlaw.'
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.
Johnson has included two explanatory notes at the bottom of this page. The first informs the reader that the Battle of Harlaw was fought in 1411, 'against Donald of the Isles', and the second that the 'Governour' mentioned in the fourth verse is in fact Robert Duke of Albany, uncle to King James I. On 24 July 1411, Donald, Lord of the Isles marched south with an army of 10,000 Highlanders to stake his claim to the Earldom of Ross. This was in reaction to the Duke of Albany's claim that the title be passed to his son. Donald was met at Harlaw, near Aberdeen, by a large army led by the Earl of Mar. Both sides suffered heavy losses and, believing they had been defeated, eventually withdrew. As to the tune, Glen (1900) noted that 'Johnson has taken (it) from Daniel Dow's 'Ancient Scots Tunes' (1775), but has altered the second strain'.