Verse 1: ''Twas in the season of the year, / When all things gay and light appear, / That Colin with his morning ray, / Arose and sung the rural lay, / Of Nanny's charms the Shepherd sung, / The hills and dales with Nanny rung / While Roslin Castle heard the swain, / And echo'd back the cheerful strain.' The broadside carries no publication details.
'Roslin Castle' is thought to have been written by Richard Hewitt of Cumberland (d.1764), secretary to the blind Scottish poet Thomas Blacklock (1721-91). It was a popular song, reproduced on many broadsides, and was commonly sung to an old Scottish pipe air known as 'The House of Glamis'. As a setting for a love song, Roslin Castle has an appropriate air of romance. Now a partial ruin, the fourteenth-century castle is sited spectacularly on a rocky promontory above the River Esk, in Midlothian.
Early ballads were dramatic or humorous narrative songs derived from folk culture that predated printing. Originally perpetuated by word of mouth, many ballads survive because they were recorded on broadsides. Musical notation was rarely printed, as tunes were usually established favourites. The term 'ballad' eventually applied more broadly to any kind of topical or popular verse.
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