Volume VI, song 542 page 561 - 'O gude ale comes &c' -...
Volume VI, song 542 page 561 - 'O gude ale comes &c' - Scanned from the 1853 edition of the 'Scots Musical Museum', James Johnson and Robert Burns (Edinburgh and London: W. Blackwood & Sons, 1853)
Verse 1: 'O gude ale comes and gude ale goes gude ale gars me sell my hose sell my hose and pawn my shoon gude ale keeps my heart aboon. I had sax owsen in a pleugh They drew a' weel enough I sell'd them a' just ane by ane gude ale keeps the heart aboon.' 'Gars' means makes, 'hose' is socks, 'shoon' is shoes, 'aboon' is above and 'owsen' is oxen.
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 songs in 'The Scots Musical Museum', there is some doubt concerning just how much of this light-hearted drinking song is Burns's original work, and how much of it belongs to a pre-existing song. According to William Stenhouse (1853), Burns wrote the verses for the song but left the chorus as it was. In contrast, Scott Douglas writes that most of the song is Burns's work, with only the odd line surviving from an earlier - less impressive - song. John Glen (1900) says that Burns adapted his lyrics to an air called 'The Bottom of the Punch Bowl'. This melody dates from the first half of the 17th Century, continues Glen, and appears in James Oswald's 'Collection of Curious Scots Tunes' (1742).