Music Of The Waters - online book

Sailors' Chanties, Songs Of The Sea, Boatmen's, Fishermen's,
Rowing Songs, & Water Legends with lyrics & sheet music

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6                Music of the Waters.
lighter, the chanty-man chanted his strange lays, while the tars with hearty good-will joined in the refrains and choruses. Lieutenant Bassett, in his ' Legends and Super­stitions of the Sea and of Sailors in all Lands and at all Times,' says : ' The old type of sailor, who believed in the mermaid, the sea-snake, and the phantom ship, is fast disappearing, and, with the gradual substitution of the steamship for the sailing-vessel, he is being replaced by the mechanical seaman, who sees no spectre in the fog, nor sign of disaster in the air or beneath the wave.' "
Lieutenant Bassett's work is such an inexhaustible collection of sea legends and sailors' superstitions, that I feel it would be indeed unnecessary for me here to supple­ment it with any additional remarks concerning these same legends. Any one interested in the subject cannot do better than read it. Old tars tell us that the chanties are not what they were before steam became so universal: one added, on telling me this, " I'll tell you what it is, Miss, steamboats have not only taken the wind out of our sails, but they have taken the puff out of us too, and them as remembers ship-life as it was, will scarcely recognize it now-a-days." This advocate of the old school was one of many " old salts" whose acquaintance I made, and who goodnaturedly sang for me several of their best-remembered chanties in a Sailors' Home in the North of England. I was very agreeably surprised at the effect of some of these chanty choruses ; some of the men present had really good voices, and they sang with a life and spirit, and with as much rhythmical accuracy as though they were miles away on the briny ocean " heaving the windlass round, or hoisting the ponderous anchor."
Whilst on the subject of Sailors' Homes, I should like to digress for just one moment to express my cordial thanks to all those connected with the institutions that have so greatly helped me in the matter of collecting these chanties. To the Secretaries, Missionaries, and sailor inmates of many of the English Homes, I am indebted for much of

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