Show Navigation

The 'Scots Musical Museum' - Volume IV, song 386, page 400 - 'Afton Water'

Back

View Large Image

Volume IV, song 386, page 400 - 'Afton Water'

Introduction:
Verse 1:
'Flow gently sweet Afton among thy green braes,
Flow gently, I'll sing thee a song in thy praise;
My Mary's asleep by thy murmuring stream,
Flow gently, sweet Afton, disturb not her dream.'
Image Rights Holder:
National Library of Scotland
Ref:
2559
Project:
754:Scots Musical Museum
Material:
Book
Dimensions:
132 x 211 mm
What:
The 'Scots Musical Museum' - Volume IV, song 386, page 400 - 'Afton Water'
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)
Alexander Hume (associated)
Major William Logan (possible composer)
Gilbert Burns (brother)
Mary Campbell (associated)
Mrs Catherine Stewart of Stair (associated)
Dr James Currie (biographer)
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:
This song was written by Burns before 1789, and through the years has proved to be one of his most popular compositions. Whilst inspired by the beauty of 'Afton Water', Burns's first biographer, Dr James Currie (1756-1805), claimed that the song was also written in honour of Mrs Catherine Stewart of Stair (d. 1818). Burns's brother, Gilbert Burns (1760-1827), on the other hand, claimed that it was inspired by Mary Campbell (1763-86), also known as Highland Mary. Wherever the inspiration for 'Afton Water' came from, it is certainly one of Burns's most beautiful songs. The accompanying melody is thought to have been written by Major William Logan (d. 1819). The song is better known, however, accompanied by a melody composed by Alexander Hume, around fifty years after the publication of the song in the 'Museum'.