Kellyburn Braes

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KELLYBURN BRAES. AKA and see "There lived a carl in Kellyburn braes." Scottish, English; Air (6/8 time). G Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AABB. Kelly burn (i.e. brook) forms the northern boundary of Ayrshire. Poet Robert Burns (1759-1796) wrote a fourteen-stanza song called "Kellyburn Braes", published in 1792 in Johnson's Scots Musical Museum (No. 379). As with the similar English classic "Devil and the Farmer's Wife," it is based on a joke that must have been old in Burns' time, about the Devil refusing a woman he deems unsuitable, even for hell. It begins:

There lived a carl in Kellyburn Braes,
Hey, and the rue grows bonie wi' thyme;
And he had a wife was the plague of his days,
And the thyme it is wither'd, and rue is in prime.

Ae day as the carl gaed up the lang glen,
Hey, and the rue grows bonie wi' thyme;
He met with the Devil, says, "How do you fen?"
And the thyme it is wither'd, and rue is in prime.

The song was of the Scotch songs set by Joseph Haydn (Hob XXXIa:148bis). The melody appears in the 1840 music manuscript collection of multi-intrumentalist John Rook (Waverton, Cumbria).

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