MS: Letter from Robert Burns to James Johnson

Robert Burns, Author 
Object Number:


When Burns visited Edinburgh in the late 1780s where he met the engraver James Johnson who had begun collecting Scottish songs for publication. When the two met in 1787, Johnson’s first volume of The Scots Musical Museum was well-underway.

Johnson, recognising a fellow lover of music, invited Burns to contribute to the subsequent volumes. Over the next few years, Robert contributed over 150 original songs to Johnson, as well as many more traditional songs he had collected and re-worked with new lyrical arrangements.

Here, Burns writes to Johnson to discuss his most recent contributions. Apparently Stephen Clarke, an organist who works for Johnson in harmonising the arrangements, has lost a number of the songs Robert has sent. Robert can remember a few, but unfortunately he is unable to recreate many of the lost songs. He offers guidance to Johnson on where to procure the music or words to some of the songs, including Ken ye what Meg o' the Mill has gotten and Lay thy loof in mine Lassie.

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