Familiar Songs - Their Authors & Histories

300 traditional songs, inc sheet music with full piano accompaniment & lyrics.

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"Twelve months are gone and over.
And nine long tedious days: Why didst thou, venturous lover,
Why didst thou trust the-seas? Cease, cease, thou cruel ocean,
And let my lover rest — Ah! what's thy troubled motion
To that within my breast!
" The merchant, robbed of pleasure,
Views tempests in despair; But what's the loss of treasure
To losing of my dear? Should you some coast be laid on,
Where gold and diamonds grow, You'll find a richer maiden,
But none that loves you so.
" How can they say that nature
Has nothing made in vain; Why, then, beneath the water,
Should hideous rocks remain? No eyes these rocks discover,
That lurk beneath the deep, To wreck the wandering lover,
And leave the maid to weep."
All melancholy lying,
Thus wailed she for her dear ; Repaid each blast with sighing,
Each billow with a tear : When o'er the white wave stooping,
His floating corpse she spied, Then like a lily drooping,
She bowed her head, and died.
Epes Sargent, author of " A Life on the Ocean Wave," was born in Gloucester, Mass., September 27, 1812. He is well known as the author of much graceful prose and verse, and the editor of several fine collections. He was a journalist and long resided in Boston, where he died in December, 1880. I am indebted to him for this history of the song:
" A Life on the Ocean Wave was written for Henry Russell. The subject of the song was suggested to me as I was walking, one breezy, sun-bright morning in spring, on the Battery, in New York, and looking out upon the ships and the small craft under full sail. Having completed my song and my walk together, I went to the office of the Mirror, wrote out the words, and showed them to my good friend, George P. Morris. After read­ing the piece, he said, 'My dear boy, this is not a song; it will never do for music; but it is a very nice little lyric; so let me take it and publish it in the Mirror.7 I consented, and concluded that Morris was right. Some days after the publication of the piece, I met Russell. 'Where is that song?' asked he. 'I tried my hand at one and failed/ said I. 'How do you know thatf 'Morris tells me it won't answer.' 'And is Morris infallible! Hand me the piece, young man, and let us go into Hewitt's back room here, at the corner of Park Place and Broadway, and see what we can make out of your lines.'
" We passed through the music store. Russell seated himself at the piano; read over the lines attentively; hummed an air or two to himself; then ran his fingers over the keys, then stopped as if nonplussed. Suddenly a bright idea seemed to dawn upon him; a melody had all at once floated into his brain, and he began to hum it, and to sway him­self to its movement. Then striking the keys tentatively a few times, he at last confidently launched into the air since known as 'A Life on the Ocean Wave.' 'I've got it!' he ex­claimed. It was all the work of a few minutes. I pronounced the melody a success, and it proved so. The copyright of the song became very valuable, though I never got any­thing from it myself. It at once became a favorite, and soon the bands were playing it in the streets. A year or two after its publication, I received from England copies of five or six different editions that had been Issued there by competing publishers."