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The 'Scots Musical Museum' - Volume IV, song 384, page 398 - 'The Slaves Lament'

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Volume IV, song 384, page 398 - 'The Slaves Lament'

Introduction:
Verse 1:
'It was in sweet Senegal that my foes did me enthral,
For the lands of Virginia O:
Torn from that lovely shore and must never see it more;
And alas I am weary weary O!
Torn from that lovely shore,
and must never see it more,
And alas I am weary weary O!'
Image Rights Holder:
National Library of Scotland
Ref:
2557
Project:
754:Scots Musical Museum
Material:
Book
Dimensions:
132 x 211 mm
What:
The 'Scots Musical Museum' - Volume IV, song 384, page 398 - 'The Slaves Lament'
Subject:
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.
Who:
Robert Burns (1759-96) (song collector / composer / editor)
William Clarke (c. 1755-1820) (musical editor for Volume VI of the 'Scots Musical Museum')
Stephen Clarke (c. 1735-97) (musical editor)
James Johnson (c. 1750-1811) (printer / publisher / engraver / editor)
When:
Between 1787 and 1803 (first publication of the 'Scots Musical Museum')
Where:
The National Library of Scotland, Edinburgh
Background:
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.
Description:
Although Johnson did not attribute this particular song to Burns, it is considered by many to be a Burns composition. According to Glen (1900), 'it is said both words and music were communicated by Burns. This does not, however, confirm that Burns was the author, as he is known to have collected and revised many existing songs for the 'Museum'. Although at first glance 'The Slaves Lament' is an unusual song to be included in a collection of traditional Scots songs, it did in fact reflect Burns's anti-slavery stance and hence made a strong political statement at the time. Glen also noted that the melody rather than being Scottish was actually thought to be an African melody. Whatever its origins, this song makes an interesting and thought-provoking addition to the 'Museum'.