1746–1767

March 27, 1746, Kin­ness­wood, Kinross­shire, Scot­land.

July 5, 1767, Kin­ness­wood, Kin­ross­shire, Scot­land.

Port­moak Churchyard, Kin­ross­shire, Scot­land.

Son of a weaver, Bruce received his education at the village school, Ed­in­burgh Un­i­ver­si­ty, and the Theological Hall of the Associate Synod at Kin­ross, under John Swan­ston. To support himself during this period, he conducted a school during recess at Gair­field Bridge and later at For­est­mill, near Til­li­coul­try.

He also provided the singing class at Kin­ness­wood a number of pieces which his father referred to as Gospel Sonnets. Bruce died before completing his studies.

Shortly after Bruce’s death, John Lo­gan, two years younger than Bruce, whom he had met in Ed­in­burgh, procured from Bruce’s father the manuscript volume of Mi­chael’s poems, which he promised to publish.

In 1770, Poems on Several Occasions, by Mi­chael Bruce appeared, containing seventeen of Bruce’s secular poems, including the famous Ode to the Cuckoo. The volume was ed­it­ed by John Lo­gan, who had become the Minister of South Leith.

Bruce’s father complained that the “Gos­pel Sonnets” were not included, and asked for the manuscript back, but received no reply. The father went to visit Lo­gan, who replied he feared that the servants had singed fowls with it. Only a few scraps of the manuscript were returned.

In 1781, Logan published Poems. By the Rev. Mr. Logan, One of the Ministers of Leith under his own name. This volume included several of Bruce’s poems from in the earlier volume, including Ode to the Cuckoo and a number of sacred poems.

Many of Bruce’s classmates, as well as his brother James, recognized the poems as those they had sung under Bruce before his death. In addition, Lo­gan had recast a number of these poems to be included in Scott­ish Translations and Paraphrases in the same year. This resulted in a lawsuit which compelled Lo­gan to resign his post at Leith and move to Lon­don, where he had to support himself solely by his own pen.

Research by Mack­el­vie (Life of Bruce, 1837) and Gross­art (Works of Bruce, 1865) shows that the poems of Bruce recast by James Logan in Scottish Translations and Paraphrases are:

  1. Almighty Father of Mankind
  2. Behold! th’Ambassador Divine
  3. Behold! The Mountain of the Lord
  4. Few Are Thy Days and Full of Woe
  5. Messiah! At Thy Glad Approach
  6. O Happy Is the Man Who Hears
  7. When Jesus by the Virgin Brought
  8. Where High the Heavenly Temple Stands

Grossart attributes an additional poem to Bruce:

  1. The Hour of Our Departure’s Come

where to get Bruce’s picture