Volume VI, song 509, page 525 - 'As I went o'er &c.' -...
Volume VI, song 509, page 525 - 'As I went o'er &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: 'As I went o'er the highland hills to a farmer's house I came The night being dark and something wet, I ventur'd into the same. Where I was kindly treated And a pretty maid I spy'd, Who ask'd me if I had a wife but marriage I deny'd.'
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.
Although Burns made it a condition of his involvement that only Scottish songs and melodies were to be included in the 'Museum', a number of English and Irish melodies made their way into the collection. This appears to be one of these instances. According to John Glen (1900), the song is 'wedded to an Irish air called Peggy Bawn'. Whilst Glen deemed it a 'very pretty' tune, he did not believe it to be very old. Unfortunately, the identities of the songwriter and composer are not known.