Volume VI, song 518, page 534 - 'Go to Berwick Johnny' -...
Volume VI, song 518, page 534 - 'Go to Berwick Johnny' - Scanned from the 1853 edition of the 'Scots Musical Museum', James Johnson and Robert Burns (Edinburgh and London: W. Blackwood & Sons, 1853)
Verse 1: 'Go to Berwick Johnny bring her frae the border yon sweet bonnie lassie, let her gae nae farder. English louns will twine ye o' the lovely treasure but we'll let them ken a sword wi' them we'll measure.' 'Louns' are rascals.
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 thought to have been written by the Edinburgh music-seller and stationer John Hamilton (1761-1819), who was also the author of, amongst other songs, 'Up in the morning early' and 'Bannocks o' Barley meal'. Glen (1900) writes that the tune, which is old, is known to have appeared with slight variations in Margaret Sinkler's 'Musick Book' (1710), under the title of 'Berwick Johny'.