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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96               Music of the Waters,
Sir Patrick Spens. I am told, on good authority, that it used to be a great favourite with Scotch seamen, and was often sung by the fishermen of some parts of Scotland. The number of verses contained in this ballad makes it impossible for me to quote it at length ; I merely give the first to show the style of the composition, which is doubtless familiar to many.
" The king sits in Dunfermline town, A-drinking at the wine ; Says, ' Where will I get a good skipper Will sail the saut seas fine ?' "
Reading in a Glasgow paper one day an account of a lecture delivered by Professor Blackie on Scottish songs, I was attracted by some remarks he made on the scarcity of sea-songs amongst them, a statement that scarcely coincides with one made some time before by a writer in The Illustrated London News. The writer, after speaking of sailor-songs in general, says : " In speaking of these songs of the sea have I ever, by any chance, used the word ' English' ? If so, I tremble and retract. The brawny Scot who stands out for ' British ' to be applied as the only allowable term, in cases when it is obviously impossible to say 'Scottish' (as in speaking, for example, of Shakespeare); this stern patriot would be even more in the right than usual in this particular case. Nearly all of the very best of British sea-songs have been written by Scotchmen. There was Campbell, without a rival in any age, whose chants no Tyrteus can ever equal, as no battle-field can have the poetry of the surging wave. There was Allan Cunning­ham, of The Wet Sheet and the Flowing Sea;' and there was Thomson, of the ' Seasons '—not that the ' Seasons ' can fairly be described as nautical, but that few people realize that he wrote anything besides that unforgotten and unread poem—while fewer associate him with ' Rule Britannia,' to which magnificent melody he wrote the

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