Volume VI, song 510, page 526 - 'O Cherub Content' -...
Volume VI, song 510, page 526 - 'O Cherub Content' - Scanned from the 1853 edition of the 'Scots Musical Museum', James Johnson and Robert Burns (Edinburgh and London: W. Blackwood & Sons, 1853)
Verse 1: 'O Cherub content at thy moss cover'd shrine I would all the gay hopes of my bosom resign. I would part with ambition thy vot'ry to be And breathe not a vow but to friendship and thee.'
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 discouraged the use of English or Irish songs and melodies in the 'Museum', a number were actually included. This appears to be one of them. John Glen included an interesting note on this melody in his book, 'Early Scottish Melodies' (1900). He wrote that the tune was an old Irish one, which at the time he was writing was known by the title of 'The Coolin'. Prior to this, it appears to have been known as 'Molly St George'. There appears to be some dispute over the identity of the composer. Glen writes, 'Some consider it to be by Carolan, while others attribute it to Connallon. Many of the Irish people suppose that the tune is older than either of them.'