Volume VI, song 562, page 581 - 'Gently blaw &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: 'Gently blaw ye eastern breezes, Hide your piercing breath like store An' cauld December frost that freezes Frae the fair maid I adore.' Chorus: 'O she's bonny bonny bonny O she's bonny and sweet to see Fair the bud an' bonny blossom Aye the blythe blinks in her ee.'
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 melody to this piece was called 'O gin my love were but a rose', and can also be found under the alternative title of 'Under her apron'. The lyrics were written by John Anderson. Anderson was a music engraver and mapmaker who held premises in the New Town and then in the High Street in Edinburgh. He was apprenticed to Johnson for a while and then helped Johnson's widow run the business after his death.