Music Of The Waters - online book

Sailors' Chanties, Songs Of The Sea, Boatmen's, Fishermen's,
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Music of the Waters.              341
Many of the fishing community are of a decidedly religious character, thus following the example of their patron saint, St. Peter. Oftentimes on a summer's evening, off the Cornish coast, one may hear the fishermen engaged in singing hymns of praise. Like the Dutch seafaring men, these Cornish men are most fervent in their devotions; the rugged, lonely, perilous lives they lead being responsible for the solemnity of their bearing. The Breton and Norman fishermen are also very God-fearing people.
The herring fishery in the Isle of Man is the staple industry of the place—the Manx sea-harvest it is called. Before the men set off for the fishing a service is held, and to the verse in the Church Litany, " That it may please Thee to give and preserve to our use the kindly fruits of the earth, so as in due time we may enjoy them," is added, "and restore and continue to us the blessings of the sea." Bishop Wilson had this supplemented in the Manx Book of Common Prayer, in 1779. Also, before shooting the nets, at a sign from the master of the boat, every man goes down upon his knees, and with his head uncovered asks that a blessing may be upon the fishing. They are a thoroughly devout people, these silent, earnest, shrewd Manx fishermen, and there is a great deal to interest one in their sayings and doings. For instance, a Manx fisherman counts 124 fish to the hundred, he adds three to every hundred (120) which he distinguishes by the name of " warp," and then he throws in a single herring which he calls " tally," thus making 124. They have some queer proverbs about herrings. They are delicate fish and very easily killed ; when they are taken out of the water they give a peculiar squeak, and die—thus, "As dead as a herring " is a favourite saying, and as they are caught by the gills in the meshes of the net, with all their heads hanging in the same direction, " Every herring must hang by his own gill." Like the Zetland fishermen, the Manx have a toast, " Life to man and death to fish "—(Manx) " Bioys da dooinne as baase da eeast."

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