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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148              Music of the Waters.
Que votre main puissante, Au gre de vos desseins, Vers le bien oriente, Les coeurs de vos marins.
Dieu des misericordes Abaissez vos regards Sur nos mats et nos cordes, Quand, parmi les brouillards, A la cape, en derive, Affairs sous le vent, Nous sommes vers la rive Drosses par le courant.
Pour notre sauvetage, Patron des sauveteurs, Donnez-nous bon courage En nous rendant meilleurs. Preservez-nous du vice, Et qu'apres notre mort Notre barque atterrisse Pres de vous a bon port.
Let Thy powerful hand Guided by Thy desire, At the golden harbour land The hearts of Thy sailors.
God of all mercy, Bend we pray Thy looks On our ropes and sails, When we are in danger. At the cape, we drift Weighed down with the wind, And make towards the shore Driven by the tide.
For our salvation, Patron of Saviours, Give us help and courage By making us better. Keep us from all vice, And after our death Let our barque come safely To the haven of Thy love.
It is impossible to translate the full beauty of this exquisite poem. It was given, to me by an English lady who was for many years resident in Brittany, and whom I met accidentally whilst travelling one day. We had some conversation, in the course of which she asked me if I knew Brittany ? I told her I did not. She then spoke of the fishermen and seamen generally of that part, and told me some stories of the extraordinary superstition that exists among them. " They have some nice customs, too," she added, " for instance, a beautiful litany which they chant before going on a voyage ; I heard it several times and got one of the old fishermen to repeat it to me while I wrote it down, and I also procured the music. I have been thinking lately of sending it to a young lady in the North of England, whom I understand is collecting the sailors' songs of all nations ; I am sure she will like to have it for her book."
I told her how glad I should be to have it, and after a little more talking 1 reached my destination. A few days later the Litany and a very kind letter were sent me by my travelling-companion, and a request that I would translate the verses as literally as possible, so that the fervour of the Breton religion might not be destroyed for the sake of a rhymed version.

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