MacEdward Leach and the Songs of Atlantic Canada
Faithful Sailor Boy
Thomas Williams NFLD 2 Tape 12 Track 6
St. Vincent's Audio:

Bein' of one dark and stormy night the snow was on the ground
A sailor boy stood on the quay the ship was outward bound
His true love standing by his side shed many a bitter tear
And as he pressed her to his breast he whispered in her ear

Sayin' are you well my love he said this parting gives me pain
But you shall be my guiding star till l return again
My thoughts shall be on you my love when storms are raging high
So farewell love remember me your faithful sailor boy

‘Twas in the gale the ship sot sail his true love standing by
She watched the vessel out of sight till the tears they dimmed her eye
She prayed to God in heaven above to guide him on his way
The words of love this couple spoke re-echoed o'er the sea

‘Twas sad to see the ship return wit’ out the sailor boy
For he had died on the v’yage the flags were half mast high
And when the sailors came on shore and told that he was dead
A letter there they brought to her these very same words he said

Sayin’ fare you well my love he said you’ll never see me no more
Until you reach another land upon a brighter shore
And when you'll reach to that bright land that land above the sky
You never will be parted from your faithful sailor boy


Sources: Laws K13; Roud 376; Brownll 111; Chappell-FSAR 33 (Sailor Boy); Doerflinger, p.164 (The Sailor Boy); English, 1959: 5 (fragment); Fuson, p. 661-2 (The Soldier Boy); SHenry H543:103 (The Sailor Boy).
A broadside publication is found in NLScotland, L.C. Fol. 70(64a), (The Sailor Boy, Poet’s Box, ca. 1880-1900).
From the Memorial University Folklore and Language Archive (MUNFLA) Song Index and Song Annotation Collection: Broderick, Tina MUNFLA 72-238; Casey, Geogre MUNFLA 68-40; Dawe, Audrey MUNFLA 73-89; Dupree V. MUNFLA 67-34 (Your Faithful Sailor Boy); Fudge, J. MUNFLA 69-34 (Goodbye My own True Love); Power, Mary MUNFLA 71-26;

History: According to The Traditional Ballad Index ( the earliest known date is 1859 with authorship accredited to G.W. Persley.

Text: A young sailor says goodbye to his beloved before going to sea. They swear their love across the water. The ship returns and the young man has died but wrote a letter promising reunion in the afterlife.

Tune: The text is through composed and the melody repeats with each verse. The last word is spoken. Speaking, instead of singing a final word or phrase is generally thought to indicate Irish influence on the singer or song. The meter is 4/4. There is no clear melody as the singer uses a speaking like singing voice. A minor tune based on B-flat.

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