Volume VI, song 538, page 557 - 'The Sun In the West' -...
Volume VI, song 538, page 557 - 'The Sun In the West' - Scanned from the 1853 edition of the 'Scots Musical Museum', James Johnson and Robert Burns (Edinburgh and London: W. Blackwood & Sons, 1853)
Verse 1: 'The sun in the west fa's to rest in the e'enin' ilk morning blinks cheerfu' upon the green Ice, But ah on the pillow o' sorrow ay leanin' Nae morning, nae e'enin brings pleasure to me O waefu' the parting when smiling at danger young Allan left Scotia to meet wi' the fae cauld cauld now he lies in a land amang strangers frae friends and frae Helen forever away.'
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 lyrics for this song were written by Richard Gall (1776-1801), who also wrote several other songs included in 'The Scots Musical Museum'. According to William Stenhouse (1853), the haunting melody to which Gall adapted his lyrics is originally a Gaelic air. John Glen (1900) disputes Stenhouse's claim regarding the tune's origins, however, and claims it is more likely to be an imitation of a Highland air. Glen also points out the striking similarity between this tune and the air for 'Bonnie Dundee'.