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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Music of the Waters.              269
one would not expect to find in a monarch of the waters.
The water-sprite's wives are popularly supposed to be women who have been drowned, or whom a parent's curse has placed within the power of the evil one. They have great influence over the weal or woe of fishermen and sailors, ofttimes luring them to death and destruction.
The Russian peasants sign a cross on the water with a knife or scythe before bathing, and they never go into the water without a cross round their neck, or after sunset. It is considered especially dangerous to bathe during the week in which falls the feast of the prophet Ilya (Elijah, formerly Perun, the Thunderer), for then the Vodyany is on the look-out for victims. The bodies of his victims he allows to float ashore, but their souls he keeps in his watery kingdom, making them his servants. Bohemian fishermen are afraid of assisting a drowning man, as they think the Vodyany will drive away the fish from their nets. In the Ukraine they have a tradition that, when the sea is rough, such half-fishy " marine people " appear on the surface of the water and sing songs. The Chumaki (local carriers) go down at such times to the sea-side, and there hear those wonderful songs, which they afterwards sing in the towns and villages. In other places these "sea-people" are called " Pharaohs," being supposed, like the seals of Iceland, to be the remains of that host of Pharaoh which perished in the Red Sea. The water-nymphs of Russia are known as Rusalkas.

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