The Book of Scottish Song/John Anderson, my jo

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For other versions of this work, see John Anderson My Jo.
2262930The Book of Scottish Song — John Anderson, my jo1843

John Anderson, my jo.

[Written by Burns in 1789, for Johnson's Museum, to a very old tune, called John Anderson, my jo. The original John Anderson, according to tradition, is said to have been the town-piper of Kelso. In Bishop Percy's MS. book of ballads (a production of the middle of the 16th century) occur the following verses:—

John Anderson, my joe, cum in as ye gae by,
And ye sall get a sheip's heid weel baken in a pye;
Weel baken in a pye, and a haggis in a pat;
John Anderson, my joe, cum in and ye's get that.

And how doe ye, cummer? and how doe ye thrive?
And how many bairns hae ye? Cummer, I hae five.
Are they to your awin gudeman? Na, cummer, na—
For three o' them were gotten quhan Willie was awa'.

The latter four lines, it will be observed, form a principal portion of the modern "Nid, noddin'."]

John Anderson, my jo, John,
When we were first acquent,
Your locks were like the raven,
Your bonnie brow was brent;
But now your brow is beld, John,
Your locks are like the snaw,
But blessings on your frosty pow,
John Anderson, my jo.

John Anderson, my jo, John,
We clamb the hill thegither,
And mony a canty day, John,
We've had wi' ane anither;
Now we maun totter down, John,
But hand in hand we'll go,
And we'll sleep thegither at the foot,
John Anderson, my jo.

[In a collection of "Poetry, original and selected," published in penny Nos. between the years 1795 and 1798, by Messrs. Brash & Reid, Glasgow, and now very scarce, several additional stanzas to "John Anderson, my jo," are given, which were probably from the pen of one of the partners, Mr. William Reid, who, as we have already hinted at page 3, had a knack in eking out popular ditties. Mr. Reid was born at Glasgow in 1764, and for nearly thirty years carried on in his native city a most respectable bookselling business, in company with Mr. Brash. He died in 1831. Only the first four of the following stanzas can be fairly attributed to him.]

John Anderson, my jo, John,
I wonder what ye mean,
To rise sae early in the morn,
And sit sae late at e'en;
Ye'll blear out a' your een, John,
And why should you do so?
Gang sooner to your bed at e'en,
John Anderson, my jo.

John Anderson, my jo, John,
When nature first began
To try her canny hand, John,
Her master-piece was man;
And you amang them a', John,
Sae trig frae tap to toe,
She proved to be nae journeyman,
John Anderson, my jo.

John Anderson, my jo, John,
Ye were my first conceit,
And ye need na think it strange, John,
That I ca' ye trim and neat;
Though some folks say ye're auld, John,
I never think ye so,
But I think ye're aye the same to me,
John Anderson, my jo.

John Anderson, my jo, John,
We've seen our bairns' bairns,
And yet, my dear John Anderson,
I'm happy in your arms,
And sae are ye in mine, John,
I'm sure ye'll ne'er say no,
Tho' the days are gane that we have seen,
John Anderson, my jo,

John Anderson, my jo, John,
What pleasure does it gi'e,
To see sae many sprouts, John,
Spring up 'tween you an' me;
And ilka lad and lass, John,
In our footsteps to go,
Makes perfect heaven here on earth,
John Anderson, my jo.

John Anderson, my jo, John,
Our siller ne'er was rife,
And yet we ne'er saw poverty,
Sin' we were man and wife;
We've aye haen bit and brat, John,
Great blessings here below,
And that helps to keep peace at hame,
John Anderson, my jo.

John Anderson, my jo, John,
The world lo'es us baith
We ne'er spak' ill o' neibours, John,
Nor did them ony skaith;
To live in peace and quietness
Was a' our care, ye know,
And I'm sure they'll greet when we are dead,
John Anderson, my jo.

John Anderson, my jo, John,
Frae year to year we've past,
And soon that year maun come, John,
Will bring us to our last;
But let na that affright, John,
Our hearts were ne'er our foe,
While in innocent delight we've lived,
John Anderson, my jo.

John Anderson, my jo, John,
And when the time is come,
That we, like it er auld folk, John,
Maun sink into the tomb,
A motto we will ha'e, my John,
To let the world know,
We happy lived, contented died,
John Anderson, my jo.