MacEdward Leach and the Songs of Atlantic Canada

Wreck of the Jane Hunter

Mr. Fitzgerald NFLD 2 Tape 15A Track 1
Renews Audio:

LEACH: I’ll hold it for you. I’ll hold it.
FEMALE VOICE: He'll hold it, you sing away.
FITZGERALD: Sit down there.
LEACH: No, no l have to watch this, you see.

Ye tender-hearted Christians, ye mothers and widows, too
Come listen to the tragedy of the Jane Hunter's crew
She sailed from _______ and was bound to Newfoundland
But little did her owners think at Sheep's Cove she would strand.

On the twenty-ninth of October, the ship being on her way
And many well remember the gale that blew that day
'Bout half-past seven on that same night the land they did espy
Which filled their hearts with terror and to get her round they tried.

But to their sad misfortune, they found it could not be done
So then they tried to air(?) her and on the rocks she run
The good ship the Jane Hunter, when she struck against the rock
The mainmast it went overboard all with the dreadful shock.

Our chief mate and bos'un had command at the time
The captain, he being unwell, for deck was not inclined
The mate not being experienced, if what we heard is true
But he tried his whole endeavours to save himself and crew.

The mate stood on the quarterdeck, these words to them did say,
"My lads cling to the rigging, my orders now obey."
Next he cried, "launch out a boat, your precious life to save
Or else the foaming billows this night will be our grave."

All on board, except one man, at the time was free from harm
And that was the cabin boy, the mainmast broke his arm
Whilst washing over her was with succeeding waves
'Twas every man's opinion not one soul would be saved.

Her timbers, they were cracking, her timbers, they did tear
She was half-filled with water, holes in her everywhere
They knew a boat on such a night, the sea she could not brave
So every man was for himself his precious life to save.

Three lab’ring youths from Scotland, to jump they did agree
One for’ard, one aft, one amidship, they jumped into the sea
But two of those brave fellows was all that reached the shore
The other poor seaman he went down all for to rise no more.

Angus Rose, the seaman bold, l b'lieve was the Scotchman
And one of those brave fellows and the first that reached the land
The other, Alexander Downey, a Scotchman too by birth,
'Twas really thought when he reached the shore, his hours were few on earth.

(Speaks) Now I’m out. Stop it now.

When Angus Rose he got on shore, he shouted once or twice
But to relieve his aching heart, received no answ'ring voice
Till full ten minutes had elapsed, whilst he was shouting there
Till he discovered Downey and he wounded severe.

The screeches of those drowning men I’m told 'twould pierce your heart
In amidst pieces of the wreak their bodies they did part
So then aloud for mercy to God _________ prayed
For he knew it was quite useless to hope for human aid.

What those poor seamen did endure, it's terrible to relate
After a long time suffering for their lives met with a wat'ry fate
In amidst pieces of the wreck, their bodies they were tossed
And eight of those brave fellows, they were completely lost.

It is for our good government, I’m sure it was to blame
If there was a lighthouse on the poles(?), it would prevent the same
Our members study on it while in their houses warm
Think on poor seamen on the deep that’s a prey to sea and storm.


Text: While bound for Newfoundland, the Jane Hunter runs aground on some rocks.   All the crew but two are lost.   The final stanza deplores the lack of a lighthouse and blames the government.   The first verse is an invitational opening.

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 a slow 4/4. The key is B major with a range of a minor 9th from A# to B.

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