MacEdward Leach and the Songs of Atlantic Canada

My Daddy’s Ship

John James NFLD 2 Tape 10 Track 7
Trepassey Audio:

JAMES: (sings)

It bein' on one winter’s evening as l lay down to sleep
I saw a b'y 'bout twelve years old to 'is mother's breast did weep
Sayin' once l had a daddy dear that gave me fond embrace
If he was here he'd wipe the tear rolls down my mother's face

How well l do remember when he took me on his knee
And gave me some of the fruit he brought from a foreign counteree
He said you are the only child in this world the Lord gave me
Dear heaven my b'y above the sky makes a home for you and me

Where is that tall and gallant ship that took my dad away
With colours decked and all sails sot for to plow the deep blue sea
Sayin' all the other ships they are returned from crossing the white foam
Why don't my daddy's ship return oh why don't he come home

Why don't my daddy’s ship return oh mother come tell me why
Why don't my daddy s ship return why do you weep and cry
Your daddy' s ship my gentle son got a dash beneath the waves
And many's the tall and gallant ship sails o'er your Daddy's grave

When he was leaving home he said twelve months he would be gone
But now the winter winds do blow and the twelve month coming on
I dreamt last night l saw my dad waving his hat in hand
And the word he spoke God bless you both as he sailed from Newfoundland

Come all of you young widows who are offtimes left to mourn
For once they had a husband dear but alas from me he's gone
He was the joy of my first life when he pressed me to his side
For the mother and son they both lived on and mother and son to die


Text : This song laments the loss at sea of a father and husband.   It is told from the perspective of both son and wife.

Tune : The melody of the first three verses is AAAB.   Each line repeats the same melody until the final phrase of a verse.   The fourth verse has been extended to twelve lines repeating the same tune for eleven lines. The final few words are spoken. Speaking, instead of singing a final word or phrase is generally thought to indicate Irish influence on the singer or song.   In 4/4 and A major, the range is an octave with heavy emphasis on the dominant note of E.  

All material on this webpage is copyright © 2004, Memorial University of Newfoundland Folklore and Language Archive, Memorial University of Newfoundland. No unauthorized copying or use is permitted. For more information, follow this link.