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Volume VI, song 598, page 618 - 'Tell me Jessy tell me why' - Scanned from the 1853 edition of the 'Scots Musical Museum', James Johnson and Robert Burns (Edinburgh and London: W. Blackwood & Sons, 1853)

Verse 1: 'Tell me Jessy tell me why My fond suit you still deny Is your bosom cold as snow did you never feel for woe. Can you hear without a sigh Him complain who for you could die, If you ever shed a tear Hear me Jessy hear O hear.'
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.
The melody to this song, which goes by the same name, is thought to bear a close resemblance to the tune 'Corn Riggs'. It had not appeared in print before the 'Museum' and the author is unknown. The lyrics, however, were written by the Edinburgh music-seller and stationer, John Hamilton. Hamilton was not only a sound businessman, with premises on Princes Street, but he was also a prolific poet and songwriter. One of his most famous poems and most popular at the time was 'Up in the morning early'.

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