MacEdward Leach and the Songs of Atlantic Canada
Forty Fishermen
Mike Molloy NFLD 2 Tape 18 Track 1
St. Shott's Audio:

__________ no more their homes would see
No more to see their children dear their kind and loving wife
For in that storm on Thursday morn those brave men lost their life

The wind with fury it did blow that fatal 'Thursday morn
They raised their mains'l and their jib for to ride out the storm
But all in vain their tiny craft the fury could not stand
And these brave heroes lost their lives while trying to make the land

The bone and sinew of the land around Placentia Bay
And on that wild and trech'rous coast gave up their lives that day
Like daring sons of Newfoundland all hardships they must stand
At duty's call in spring and fall their lives takes in their hand

Most every year the news we near of storms upon the deep
And wives and orphans left at home in sorrow for to weep
And anxious eyes are looking out around our rock bound shore
For husband brother or for son alas to see no more

Its seldom do we have to tell of such a heavy toll
All schooners lost upon that day wit' every precious soul
Whilst empty boats turned bottom up and not a soul did save
Some forty fishermen or more to meet a watery grave

It is a hard and a trying blow for those who's left to weep
The sole provider of the home now sleeps quiet 'neath the deep
The wives and orphans left to mourn; the widow's only son
Are also numbered with the dead; God's will it must be done

________ the poor in time of need their names we'd like to see
For all amounts if big or small to help the P.M.D.(?)
A happy mind a hundred fold you'll get it back for sure
That is God's promise to all those who helped the [needy poor?]

Once happy homes are now in grief the blow is hard to stand
Do bone and sinew of the coast the pride of Newfoundland
The fishermen in open boats the storms and seas must brave
All for the sake of those he loved must meet a watery grave

So let us pray for those away who on the sea must roam
To guide them in their tiny crafts and send them safe at home
And put your trust in providence who'll always heed your prayer
And give you strength and fortitude your heavy cross to bear

And now they're in that heavenly land and free from care and toil
To rest with God in heaven above in splendour for to share
They done their part to save their lives like heroes brave that day
Their work was done upon this earth [and God called them away]


History: Newfoundland ballad

Text: Describes how forty men of Placentia Bay died in a shipwreck. Very evocative but less precise detail than in many (earlier?) ballads.

Tune: A beautiful Dorian mode (minus the 3rd of the scale) melody in abba form. The ‘a’ and ‘b’ phrases each have the range of a sixth; the lower part of the tune (c-a) in the ‘a’ section balances the higher part (g-e) in the ‘b’ phrase. The performance is rhythmically free and more melismatic than most.

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