MacEdward Leach and the Songs of Atlantic Canada
The Spirit Song On George’s
Pat Critch NFLD 2 Tape 11 Track 7
Flatrock Audio:
Ballad

(Recited, then verse sung)

LEACH: All right
CRITCH:

I will sing now if you mind to and l pray you will draw near
You men and b'ys together I’m up to fifty years
I sailed upon the ocean in pleasant summer days
But in the depths of winter when storms wild do rage

I was tossed about on George's banks l fished all in the bay
I was out in early seasons most anywhere twould pay
I been out on veteran v'yages to the Western banks and grand
I was in a herring vessel made a v'age to Newfoundland

I have seen storms I’d tell you but t'ings looked rather blue
I bein' a kind of lucky l always safe got through
But l cannot brag however l can't say much but then
I’m not as easy frightened as plenty other men

‘Twas in my dark and dim watch at night l felt a chilly dread
Came over me like if a one l hear calling from the dead
‘Twas over the rail they tumbled they tumbled one by one
A dozen drippin' seamen bold jus' wait until I’m done

Their face looked white and sea washed it loomed ghastly through the night
Each man took to his station if he had his life
Each man took to his station if he had his life
He worked the best
He worked the best without a lantern till the _______ showed light

Early the next morning they took to the rail again
They vanished like the fog mists before the rising sun
I know they're the same poor fellows l t'ink God rest their souls
That this old vessel run under one night on George's shores

The trip before this one we were out on George's then
We ran down another vessel we sank her and all her men
I know they're the same poor fellows l t'ink God rest their souls
That this old vessel ran under that night on George's shoals

I do not know the reason why that these poor fellows come
To navigate our vessel ‘til just in sight of home
You got my lamentation an' l got no more to say
l do believe in spirits since that time anyway

Did you ever hear that one? That's a good song too.
LEACH: Yeah, how does the air go to that?
CRITCH: [Sings verse over]
I will sing now _______ rage.


Notes


Sources: Mercer 180; Greenleaf, 1968:227 (The Ghostly Seamen); Leach, 1965:244 (The Ghostly Fishermen); Peacock, 1965: 873, 874
From the Memorial University Folklore and Language Archive (MUNFLA) Song Index and Song Annotation Collection: Adeg, Eric MUNFLA 73-104 (Wreck of the Georgie’s Banks); Cormier, Gerald MUNFLA 72-153 (Ghostly Sailors); Dupree V. MUNFLA 69-3 (The Ghostly Crew); Halpert, Herbert MUNFLA 71-50 (Twelve Ghostly Seamen); Healey, Marigol MUNFLA 73-124 (The Ghostly Crew); Swed, John F. MUNFLA 64-16 (The Ghostly Crew); West, Eric MUNFLA 78-236 (The Ghostly Seaman, Georges Banks).

Text: A sailor on night watch describes how ghostly seaman board and charter his ship safely home one night from the Georges’ Banks. He believes them to be the same men his vessel had rammed and sunk on a previous voyage.

Tune: Full text recited and then the first verse sung.

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