Volume VI, song 559, page 578 - 'Sweetest May' - Scanned from the 1853 edition of the 'Scots Musical Museum', James Johnson and Robert Burns (Edinburgh and London: W. Blackwood & Sons, 1853)
Verse 1: 'Sweetest May let love inspire thee; Take a heart which he designs thee; As thy consent slave regard it; for its faith and truth reward it.'
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.
After Burns's death in 1796 Johnson, the 'Museum's' editor, interpolated attributions to Burns as both a memorial and a money-spinner. As a result not all of the attributions are accurate and the fact is that the extent of Burns's involvement in the songs, as they are printed, can no longer be gauged. Although this piece is attributed to Burns, there are similarities between it and 'There's my thumb I'll ne'er beguile thee', especially to this song as it was printed in Ramsay's 'Tea-Table Miscellany' (1724-7).