Prose & SongCorrespondence & Poetry

Johnie Cope

Title: Johnie Cope
First line: Sir John Cope trope the north right far,
Performer: Paul McKenna
Source: SMM 234

‘Johnie Cope’ is a well-known song from before Burns’s time. The bard himself notes ‘The air was the tune of an old song’ called ‘Will ye go the coals in the morning.’ For decades after Burns’s death the song would appear in broadsides and chapbooks, each one slightly different from the last. In the final verse Burns lends a voice to Lord Mark Kerr (1676-1752), a Scottish commander in the British army. While there is no real evidence that this song is by Burns, it remains very popular and is often associated with the bard.

Cf. Murray Pittock (ed.) The Oxford Edition of the Works of Robert Burns Volume 3: The Scots Musical Museum, part two: Notes and appendices (Oxford: OUP, 2018), p. 78

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