MacEdward Leach and the Songs of Atlantic Canada
John O’Neil
Mrs. Ambrose Coombs NFLD 2 Tape 4A Track 4
Biscay Bay Audio:
Ballad

Ye tender hearted Christians l pray ye lend an ear
To this most awful tragedy l mean to let you hear
If it’s any offence pray stop my pen before l do write more
For l mean to state what did take place in the year of nineteen and four

On the fifteenth day of April as many well do know
Those youths they left their own homes a-shooting for to go
The day being gone night coming on and they not yet returned
Which caused their tender parents in anguish for to mourn

They searched the cliffs all that long night they searched them round and round
And in the morning at daylight their dogs and guns were found
Amazed they stood in wonder and gazing all around
But still the dreadful truth was known they're in the ocean drowned

Oh the cries of their aged parents would grieve your heart full sore
All for their loving children they will never see them more
Their brothers and their sisters oh how bitter they did cry
All for their loving brother now in the ocean wide

Those youths they left their homes their friends will never forget
Their parents never dreaming of their children’s violent death
God’s ways they are mysterious there’s no man can devise
In their youth and bloom he called on them and that is why they died

Now to conclude and finish their names I’ll tell to you
There's John O'Neil both tall and fair his age scarce twenty-two
His comrade John Butler his age scarce twenty-three
Smart, active and courageous as any there could be

Two smart young youths all in their bloom
Their lives were snatched away
May the Lord have mercy on their soul
Good Christians for them pray


Notes


History: Broadside ballad.
 
Text: April 15, 1904, John O’Neil and John Butler set out to sea with their dogs and guns never to return again.
 
Tune: A beautiful Ionian mode melody in ABBA form. The ‘a’ and ‘b’ phrases both pause on the flattened seventh degree of the scale.  The performance is rhythmically free.

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