MacEdward Leach and the Songs of Atlantic Canada
Come All Ye Jolly Sailor Boys
Performed by Morris Houlihan Accession # 78-054 NFLD 1 Tape 3A Track 1
Community: Flatrock Audio:
Genre: Ballad / blind lover returns  

Transcription

Male voice: (speaks) Alright.

Male voice: (speaks) Real come-all-ye-

Well come all ye jolly sailor boys who to the sea belong
If you'll listen to me I'll sing for you a song
I've been as fine a seaman as ever furled a sail
Until by lightning lost my sights in that last November gale

There was a wealthy merchant in the town where I was born
I own I loved his daughter and she loved me I [swear]
The pressgang came after me and I was forced to go
He sent me away to plow the sea where the stormy winds do blow

On the fourteenth of November from Cook's Harbour we set sail
Bound down to Gibraltar with a soothing pleasant gale
The wind blew fair our course did steer and back before the wind
But still my thoughts kept thinking on the girl I left behind

(Something spoken here hard to understand)

We arrived at Gibraltar and we lay ashore while there
And then bound for England the wind they did still blow fair
The very day we put to sea … set every sail
When a gale came on eclipsed the sun it blew a hurricane

(Speaks) I can't remember [the rest of this is unintelligible]

… winds still kept increasing up to a hurricane
Our skipper cried, "Make haste my boys, close reef our main topsail!"
No sooner he gave orders when up aloft we lay
Like hardy tars through gales and storms his orders to obey

Just as we reached our mainmast head a heavier flash came on
Great God I will remember this eclipse of the sun
Our main top gallant mast was split up by a ball of light
And then four seamen more by the lightning lost our sight

Now early the next morning it was dismal for to view
Our mate he was washed overboard and four more of our crew
The thunder roared tremendously and lightning fierce did flash
And swelling seas broke over us and around our ship did dash

But now thank God we're home again and landed safe on shore
Back unto Cook's Harbour to the girl whom I adore
Where I found Mary waiting so loving kind and free
And now we live in unity but her I cannot see

NOTES

Sources:

History: Seems to be a Newfoundland song. Cooks Harbour, a settlement on the Strait of Belle Isle, is mentioned.

Text notes: A sailor loves a merchants daughter but he is pressed into service. When out to sea in a storm, he is hit by lightning and loses his sight. He returns to his girl but cannot see her.

Tune notes: A rhythmically free performance that is basically 4/4 metre, with the classic phrase pattern, abba.

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