Music for Strings by Joseph John (Joop) Visser
on older Scottish Tunes with texts by
Robert Burns


Page 165 from: The Scots Musical Museum, Volume II



Following sheet music is the adaptation for bells by Joseph John Visser.
Written for Auke de Boer, the carillon player of Dokkum, Groningen and Assen in the Netherlands.

For the scores of the trio, please scroll to bottom

The Banks of the Devon

A song to the tune: Bhannerach dhonn na chri.

How pleasant the banks of the clear-winding Devon,
With green-spreading bushes and flow'rs blooming fair!
But the bonniest flow'r on the banks of the Devon
Was once a sweet bud on the braes of the Ayr.
Mild be the sun on this sweet-blushing Flower,
In the gay, rosy morn as it bathes in the dew;
And gentle the fall of the soft vernal shower,
That steals on the evening each leaf to renew!
O spare the dear blossom, ye orient breezes,
With chill hoary wing as ye usher the dawn;
And far be thou distant, thou reptile that seizest
The verdure and pride of the garden or lawn!
Let Bourbon exult in his gay gilded Lillies,
And England triumphant display her proud Rose:
A fairer than either adorns the green valleys,
Where Devon, sweet Devon, meandering flows.

from the 'Illustrations':

This song was written by Burns in August 1787, and adapted to a Gaelic melody, entitled "Banarach Donnach Ruidh," or "The Brown Dairy-maid."
Burns himself gives us the following account of his song:
"These verses were composed on a charming girl, Miss Charlotte Hamilton, who is now married to James M'Kitrick Adair, Esq. physician. She is sister to my worthy friend , Gavin Hamilton of Mauchline, and was born on the Banks of Ayr; but was, at the time I wrote these lines, residing at Harveyston in Clackmannanshire, on the romantic banks of the little river Devon. - I first heard the air from a lady in Inverness, and got the notes taken down for this work (the Museum)."
In a letter to dr Currie, printed in the life of Burns, Dr Adam, now of Harrowgate, says, "Burns and I left Edinburgh together in August 1787. We rode by Linlithgow and Falkirk to Stirling. From Stirling we went next morning through the romantic and fertile vale of Devon to Harvieston in Clackmannanshire, then inhabited by Mrs Hamilton, with the younger part of whose family Burns had been previously acquainted. He introduced me to the family, and there was formed my first acquaintance with mrs Hamilton's eldest daughter, to whom I have been married for nine years. Thus was I indebted to Burns for a connexion, from which I have derived, and expect to derive, much happiness."
The author of Albyn's Anthology, printed in 1816, and the editor of the late Collection of Highland Airs, have each obliged us with a set of this tune, as if it had never been before published. These airs differ considerably from one another; but the set in Johnson's Museum, which Burns obtained from the lady in Inverness, is by far the best of the three.

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