The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #36776   Message #510414
Posted By: McGrath of Harlow
19-Jul-01 - 01:09 PM
Thread Name: Songs about lifeboat disaster, 1886?
That thread with the song is fascinating - I'd advise anyone interested in lifeboats and lifeboat disasters to get into it. Here is a link to the home page.

The style is the style of the period, but then that is what folk music is also about really. "Airbrushed death or glory?" - that would imply that they died easy deaths, and I can't see that. Brave men going out from their homes to try to rescue fellow seamen in trouble, in awful conditions, being swept to their death and missed by families and community, who are proud of them. Not that different really from this one, so far as those kind of criticisms are concerned anyway.

Anyway, here are the words in question, in which would make it easier to chase it up on the Mudcat:


Up goes the Lytham signal, St. Annes has summoned hands,
Knee-deep in surf the lifeboat is launched abreast of Southport Sands;
Half-deafened by the screaming wind, half-blinded by the rain,
Three crews await their Coxswains to face the hurricane.
The stakes are death or duty, no man has answered No!
Lives must be saved out yonder, on the good ship Mexico.
Did ever night look blacker, did sea so hiss before?
Did ever women's voices wail more piteous on the shore?
But from three ports of Lancashire that night went lifeboats three
To fight a splendid battle, manned by Warriors of the Sea.

When on dark nights of winter, fierce storms of wind and rain
Howl round the cosy homestead, and lash the window-pane;
When over hill and treetop we hear the tempest roar
And hurricanes go sweeping on from valley to the shore;
And those we love the best on earth are gathered in our homes,
Think of the sailors round our coasts who, braving sleet and snow,
Leave sweethearts, wives and little ones when duty bids them go.
Think of our sea-girt Island, a harbour where alone
No Englishman to save a life has failed to risk his own:
Then when the storm howls loudest, pray of your charity
That God will bless the lifeboat, and the Warriors of the Sea.

If I was singing I'd make that last linen of the first verse
To fight a dreadful battle, manned by Warriors of the Sea.


And the last verse ending I'd amend to something like this:

And round the coasts of England, in harbours all unknown
The lifeboatmen to save a life go out to risk their own:
Then when the storm howls loudest, pray of your charity
That God will bless the lifeboat, and the Warriors of the Sea.

And maybe sing it to the Wearing of the Green. Though maybe there's a different tune already associated with it?