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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204             Music of the Waters.
people is still left, and in the far North it is as great as ever. Among the Kvans, one curious old woman, Anna by name, always spat and turned to the sea, mumbling some words as a charm against mermen whenever a boat came in. In her charms the word " Jumala" was often used; it is the name of the old god of the Bjarmers, whose worship in the far North is not so abolished as might be supposed. Dedicated to his cultus, high up in the mountains in Finmark, are two altars, from which it would appear even in civilized Europe, among the more ignorant, Christianityis made to shake handswith Paganism. The mermen of the north of Norway were not of the same species as the traditionary mermaids of our nursery rhymes, " Human above and fishy below/' but had legs and feet like ordinary mortals ; they were, in fact, a sort of ocean giant, always injuring in some way the poor Norse sailors.
The Swedes are eminently a musical people. One of their old sea laws, according to Chorley, was that the man on the watch should sing a hymn every night. Surely there is something very picturesque as well as devout in such an ordinance.
Mr. Ballantyne, in his " Norsemen in the West," puts the following song into Karlesefin's mouth. Karlesefin was the skipper of the ship that set out for Vinland about 986 ; he was himself a skald or poet, although he had no pre­tension to great attainments in that way. Seated beside the helm guiding the ship, he would interest the group of friends who stood, sat, or reclined on the deck and against the bulwarks of the high poop, with Sagas descriptive of the battles and adventures of their Viking forefathers. One can imagine the little party thus occupied on a fine moon­light night, a soft wind carrying them pleasantly over the rippling sea, and the skipper's voice singing probably in some weird monotonous tone the following :—
" Where western waves were all unknown And western fields were all unsown,

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