Volume VI, song 582, page 602 - 'The rain rins down &c.' -...
Volume VI, song 582, page 602 - 'The rain rins down &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: 'The rain rins down thro' Mirry-land toune, Sae does it down the Pa: Sae does the lads of Mirry-land town, When they play at the ba. Sae does the lads of Mirry-land town When they play at the ba.'
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.
There is very little known about the origins of this rather dubious song, with its strong anti-semitic sentiments. It tells the story of a Jewish girl or young woman enticing a young boy into her home and murdering him. It is probably best summed up as a product of its time when, as Glen (1900) puts it so eloquently, 'the population, through ignorance and superstition, encouraged and fed by the monks, believed in such tales, and without the least evidence made them a pretext for robbing and killing unfortunate and unoffending Jews, who were accused of murdering Christian children'. As to the tune, Glen was unable to find it in any collections printed prior to the the 'Museum'. He did, however, consider it to be 'of the mongrel species, compounded from 'The Mason's Anthem, Merrily dances the Quaker,' &c.'.