Familiar Songs - Their Authors & Histories

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

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The words of "The Stormy Petrel" were written by Bryan Waller Procter (Barry Cornwall). The air was composed by the Chevalier Neukomm. "The Chevalier," says Chorley, " was as cunning in his generation as his poet was the reverse. On the strength of this success and his partner's simplicity, the musician beguiled the poet to write some half hundred lyrics for music, the larger number of which are already among the classics of English song, in grace and melody, recalling the best of our old dramatists, and surpris­ingly little touched by conceit. Will it be believed that for such admirable service the noble-hearted poet was never even offered the slightest share in gains which would have had no existence, save for his suggesting genius, by the miserable Chevalier? It only dawned on him that his share of the songs must have some value, when the publishers, without hint or solicitation, in ' acknowledgment of the success,' sent a slight present of jewelry to a member of his family."
The Stormy Petrel is the bird known to sea superstition as " Mother Carey's Chicken." The name was first applied by Captain Carteret's sailors, and is supposed to refer to a mischievous old woman of that name; for the petrel is a bird of ill-omen.
The song was written for Henry Phillips, who in his pleasant " Recollections," gives this incident of his voyage to America: " It was a glorious, bright day, and we were skim­ming before a lovely breeze, watching the flocks of little petrels at the stern of the vessel, when the captain, having taken his observation at the meridian, announced in a loud voice that we were just a thousand miles from land. On the instant, Barry Cornwall's beautiful words occurred to me, and Neukomm's admirable music to the song he wrote for me, ' The Stormy Petrel.' ' Come,' said I, to my fellow passengers, ' come down into the saloon, and I'll tell you all about it, in music' Away we went. I sat down to the pianoforte, and sang—
* A thousand miles from land are we, Tossing about on the roaring sea.'"