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Lyr Add: Wreckers Prayer, The

Charley Noble 07 Oct 10 - 02:32 PM
Charley Noble 08 Oct 10 - 07:54 AM
terrier 08 Oct 10 - 08:26 AM
Charley Noble 08 Oct 10 - 04:35 PM
GUEST,mg 08 Oct 10 - 07:01 PM
EBarnacle 08 Oct 10 - 10:41 PM
mg 08 Oct 10 - 11:05 PM
Charley Noble 09 Oct 10 - 01:41 PM
Little Robyn 09 Oct 10 - 03:25 PM
Charley Noble 09 Oct 10 - 04:46 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 09 Oct 10 - 05:16 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 09 Oct 10 - 06:16 PM
mg 09 Oct 10 - 06:28 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 09 Oct 10 - 07:48 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 24 Oct 10 - 04:59 PM
Charley Noble 24 Oct 10 - 09:20 PM
Artful Codger 25 Oct 10 - 04:37 AM
GUEST,Alan Whittle 26 Oct 10 - 04:30 AM
Charley Noble 26 Oct 10 - 07:55 AM
Artful Codger 26 Oct 10 - 07:56 PM
Charley Noble 26 Oct 10 - 08:10 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 26 Oct 10 - 09:21 PM
GUEST,X C man 27 Feb 18 - 11:55 AM
Joe_F 27 Feb 18 - 03:50 PM
Charley Noble 27 Feb 18 - 07:54 PM
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Subject: Lyr Add: Wreckers Prayer, The
From: Charley Noble
Date: 07 Oct 10 - 02:32 PM

I learned this song from my friend Mike Kennedy at one of the late night Mystic Sea Music Festival gatherings but had assumed it was by C. Fox Smith. It's not, as I found out from Gordon Bok after using it to introduce a Sunday morning workshop at this year's Getaway. It's actually a poem composed by the Canadian poet Theodore Goodridge Roberts (copy and paste into WORD/TIMES/12 to line up chords):

By Theodore Goodridge Roberts
Originally published in The Lost Shipmate: Poems of the Sea, © 1934
From The Sea, Ships and Sailors, edited by William Cole, Viking Press, 1967, p. 127
Chorus and tune by Mike Kennedy
Lyrics further adapted by Charles Ipcar, 10/7/10

The Wrecker's Prayer


Chorus:

Am--------------G----------Am
Give us a little wreck, oh Lord,
C-------------------G
Hal-a-loo, hal-a-loo,
Am--------------G----------Am
Give us a little wreck, oh Lord,
------G--------Am
Glor-y-hal-a-loo-ya!



Am-------------------G-------Am
Give us a wreck or two, oh Lord,
-----C------------------------------G
For winter in Tops'il Tickle be hard
-------Am-----------------------G-----Am
With gray-frost creepin' like mortal sin –
-----C-----------------G------------Am
An' pershin' lack of bread in the bin;
---------------------------------G-------Am
A grand rich wreck, we do humbly pray,
G-------------------------C
Bursting aboard at the break of day,
-----Am------------------G------Am
An' hoven clear 'crost Tops'il Reef,
G----Am---------------G----Am-G--Am
With victuals an' gear to al-lay our grief. (CHO)

God of reefs an' tide an' sky,
Heed to our needs an' hark to our cry!
Bread by the bag an' beef by the cask,
Ease for our bellies is all we ask;
One grand wreck or maybe two?
With victuals an' gear for to see us through
'Til spring starts up like the leap of day
An' the fish strike back into Top'il Bay. (CHO)

One rich wreck - now heed our plea -
A barque or a brig from over the sea,
Confused by thy twisting tides, oh Lord!
For winters in Tops'il Tickle be hard;
Loud an' long will we sing your praise,
Merciful Father, o' ancient days,
Master of fog an' tide and reef,
Give us a wreck to allay our grief. (CHO)

Here's the original poem with its author's notes:

The Wreckers' Prayer

In the old days before the building of the light houses, the poor "noddies" of many a Newfoundland outport prayed for wrecks—aye, and with easy consciences. Only a few hundreds of them who took to deep-sea voyaging ever learned anything of the world and its peoples. All the world, excepting their own desolate bays and "down Nort", was "up-along" to them. Montreal, Pernambuco, London, Oporto, Boston, Halifax—all were included in up-along to them; and up-along was a grand, rich place where all men were gentlemen wearing collars and coats, eating figgy-duff every day and smoking all they wanted to. The folk of up-along had the easy end of life; so why shouldn't they contribute something of their goods and gear to poor but honest noddies now and then, even if against their inclinations—aye, even if at the cost of their lives?


Give us a wrack or two, Good Lard,
For winter in Tops'il Tickle bes hard,
Wid grey frost creepin' like mortal sin
And perishin' lack of bread in the bin.

A grand, rich wrack, us do humbly pray,
Busted abroad at the break o' day
An' hove clear in 'crost Tops'il Reef,
Wid victuals an' gear to beguile our grief.

God of reefs an' tides an' sky,
Heed Ye our need an' hark to our cry!
Bread by the bag an' beef by the cask.
Ease for sore bellies bes all we ask.

One grand wrack—or maybe two?—
Wid gear an' victuals to see us through
'Til Spring starts up like the leap of day
An' the fish strike back into Tops'il Bay.

One rich wrack—for Thy hand bes strong!
A barque or a brig from up-along
Bemused by Thy twisty tides, O Lard!
For winter in Tops'il Tickle bes hard.

Loud an' long will us sing Yer praise,
Marciful Fadder, O ancient of Days,
Master of fog an' tide an' reef!
Heave us a wrack to beguile our grief. Amen!

This song would certainly fit right in with the pirate and wreckers set.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Wreckers Prayer, The
From: Charley Noble
Date: 08 Oct 10 - 07:54 AM

The line "A barque or a brig from up-along" didn't make sense to me except as a clumsy rhyme. From the poet's notes, it's clear that the phrase "up along" has local meaning in the small coastal villages of Newfoundland, i.e., anywhere else in the world. Here in Maine we use the phrase "from away." I'm still inclined to keep the simpler substitute lines as more readily understood. Any thoughts?

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Wreckers Prayer, The
From: terrier
Date: 08 Oct 10 - 08:26 AM

Charley, I was looking for a tune to you song on the internet and came acros various 'wrecking' songs. This one by Andy Roberts seems to echo the same sentiment albeit with the motive being less evident. Can you offer any help where I can find your tune?


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Wreckers Prayer, The
From: Charley Noble
Date: 08 Oct 10 - 04:35 PM

Terrier-

I got this hymn tune from Mike Kennedy and he kindly sent me the first verse and chorus on a draft recording. You should try contacting Mike via e-mail: framheim@earthlink.ne

Mike's the one to contact if anyone is seriously interested in this song. Some day we'll get Mike to settle down and record some of his excellent musical settings for poems, not to mention some of his totally original songs. We hope that process doesn't take too long!

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Wreckers Prayer, The
From: GUEST,mg
Date: 08 Oct 10 - 07:01 PM

oh no please no. It is wonderful as it was and why in the world would yhou change it? It is not for the better, and I will tell you this frankly. mg


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Wreckers Prayer, The
From: EBarnacle
Date: 08 Oct 10 - 10:41 PM

Dan Aguiar of the X Seamen used to do the Prayer on a regular basis.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Wreckers Prayer, The
From: mg
Date: 08 Oct 10 - 11:05 PM

And why would you say give us a wreck instead of heave us a wreck? Why take what sounds to me, who lived in Newfoundland, words from a Newfoundland-sounding song..not sure if he was from there or not..away and substitute generic words? That is stripping the song of history and meaning and locality..and there is a current thread on sense of place. And this had a sense of place. Not sure where TOpsail Tickle is exactly, but I worked right near Topsail itself in Logy Bay.

I agree with Barry Goldwater. If it is not necessary to do something, it is necessary not to do it. It is necessary not to change the words of this song. They weren't hurting anyone. They were not gay-bashing or racist or anything. They scanned. They rhymed. Is the audience so dumbed down they can't figure out what a word like up-along is? No reason on God's green earth to change those words. Please to put them back. mg


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Wreckers Prayer, The
From: Charley Noble
Date: 09 Oct 10 - 01:41 PM

mg-

Well, initially I hadn't a clue what "up-along" meant and thought that it was simply an clumsy rhyme. I doubt if anyone except for elderly Newfoundlanders would understand the term today without some prefacing remarks. One has to make decisions about how many terms should be explained before singing such a song. Maybe someone from Newfoundland would like to comment?

I'm certainly not planning to sing the song in the dialect it was originally composed in. Would you? I'm not from Newfoundland.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Wreckers Prayer, The
From: Little Robyn
Date: 09 Oct 10 - 03:25 PM

Up-along and Down-along are still used in Clovelly, on the north coast of Devon. Maybe the early Newfoundlanders were Westcountry people?
Robyn


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Wreckers Prayer, The
From: Charley Noble
Date: 09 Oct 10 - 04:46 PM

Robyn and mg-

I'm getting more fond of the term "up-along." Here in Maine we refer to outsiders as "from away."

Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Wreckers Prayer, The
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 09 Oct 10 - 05:16 PM

Robert Louis Stevenson wrote a novel, The Wrecker, 1891 and reprints, about bidding on wrecks for salvage and contents. This seems to have been a good business for some in the 19th c. The wrecks were put on offer by Lloyds and other insurers.
An interesting book.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Wreckers Prayer, The
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 09 Oct 10 - 06:16 PM

Portions of "The Wrecker's Prayer" were included in Robert's novel, The Harbor Master
(Gutenberg and google)


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Wreckers Prayer, The
From: mg
Date: 09 Oct 10 - 06:28 PM

I don't think you have to explain every word of a song. A person of average intellience would get the gist of it. They can ask for the name of the song and google it later. I think tampering with perfectly good songs rarely rarely rarely and I want to say never but will refrain results in any sort of improvement over the original and it is not ours to tamper with. mg


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Wreckers Prayer, The
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 09 Oct 10 - 07:48 PM

That gets rid of those folkies!


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Wreckers Prayer, The
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 24 Oct 10 - 04:59 PM

The full poem published in The Leather Bottle, 1934, Ryerson Press.
Not in The Lost Shipmate, 1926, Ryerson Poetry Chap-Books.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Wreckers Prayer, The
From: Charley Noble
Date: 24 Oct 10 - 09:20 PM

Q-

Thanks for the correction.

You've been doing a great job of posting more poems by Roberts on your Theodore Goodridge Roberts thread. There's some interesting poems there that also might be adapted for singing.

Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Wreckers Prayer, The
From: Artful Codger
Date: 25 Oct 10 - 04:37 AM

Link to the T.G. Roberts thread:
http://www.mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=132625


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Wreckers Prayer, The
From: GUEST,Alan Whittle
Date: 26 Oct 10 - 04:30 AM

Interesting and sinister little song. i don't think I could sing it - its a bit like praying for a train crash.

I would imagine most singers do change songs - sometimes unwittingly - til they roll around in your mouth comfortably. I remember some wreckers songs in the raadio adation of Jamaica Inn. I don't know if they had been composed to fit in with the play.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Wreckers Prayer, The
From: Charley Noble
Date: 26 Oct 10 - 07:55 AM

Alan-

It is a sinister song but probably no more sinister than the "pirate" songs that poets such as John Masefield created:

Then the dead men fouled the scuppers and the wounded filled the chains,
And the paint-work all was spatter-dashed with other people's brains,
She was boarded, she was looted, she was scuttled till she sank,
And the pale survivors left us – by the medium of the plank.


It's also true that some "wreckers" were essentially salvagers such as the one's that lines the Florida straits, and didn't indulge in planting false lights or slaughtering crew and passengers, but let the tides draw in what they may.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Wreckers Prayer, The
From: Artful Codger
Date: 26 Oct 10 - 07:56 PM

Of course, if business was slow, who was to know?


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Wreckers Prayer, The
From: Charley Noble
Date: 26 Oct 10 - 08:10 PM

Art-

What's intriguing to me is the Florida gangs based out of Key West in the early 19th century described themselves as "wreckers" but appeared to be "salvagers." While some of the gangs on the Cornish coast who lured ships in with false lights referred to themselves as "salvagers."

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Wreckers Prayer, The
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 26 Oct 10 - 09:21 PM

And some who bought rights to wrecks from Lloyds called themselves wreckers. 'Above I mentioned the Robert Louis Stevenson novel, The Wreckers, in which a salvor buys a wreck at the Lloyds auction for a surprisingly large sum of money. Haven't read it in years, but it is on my reading table and I will get to it soon.

To some extent the terms were interchangable among common folk and sailors; the Wreck and Salvage Acts define the terms.
Interesting are the definitions of wreck and salvage in an Act of 1887, applied in the Pacific, Fiji.

"This Act may be cited as the Wreck and Salvage Act."
[brief extracts]
"Comptroller" means the Comptroller of Customs and Excise"
"wreck" includes jetsam, flotsam, lagan and derelict found in or on the shores of the sea or any tidal water;
"salvage" includes all expenses properly incurred by the salvor in the performance of the salvage services.

4. When any ship or boat is wrecked, stranded or in distress at any place on or near the shore of the sea.... the receiver shall ...forthwith proceed to such place and upon his arrival there take command of all persons present and assign such duties...and issue directions ...with a view to the preservation opf such ship...lives...cargo and apparel thereof, and if any person wilfuly disobeys ...
6. All cargo and other articles belonging to the ship..that may be washed on shore,,,etc. shall be delivered to the receiver...
7. .....any person plunders, creates disorder and obstructs....the receiver shall cause such person to be apprehended...
8. [If, in caring for persons from the ship, cargo, etc., the receiver and his assigns may cross adjacent lands without being subject to interruption by the owner...
Etc., etc.

Interesting!
http://www.paclii.org/fj/legis/consol_act_OK/wasa152


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Wreckers Prayer, The
From: GUEST,X C man
Date: 27 Feb 18 - 11:55 AM

Mike K's chords above don't even vaguely resemble mine when I first put the poem to music in 1973 and recorded same on the album "Sea Songs" while with The X-Seamen's Institute in 1980 (still available from the Smithsonian Folk Legacy collection for any interested.) I've always assumed that one of the "January Men" brought it to Gordon Bok's attention and I was flattered when he called about wanting to record it on his album "Gordon Bok In Concert."

I originally found the poem in the book The Sea, Ships and Sailors, edited by William Cole, Viking Press, 1967, p. 127. It's a wonderful collection for anyone interested in nautical and/or maritime poetry.

Fair sailing,
Dan Aguiar


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Wreckers Prayer, The
From: Joe_F
Date: 27 Feb 18 - 03:50 PM

Another up-along: During W.W. II, a schoolgirl on Martha's Vineyard wrote a paper on Mussolini. It began: "Mussolini is an off-islander".


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Wreckers Prayer, The
From: Charley Noble
Date: 27 Feb 18 - 07:54 PM

Dan-

The first post explains the origin of this poem: By Theodore Goodridge Roberts
Originally published in The Lost Shipmate: Poems of the Sea, © 1934
From The Sea, Ships and Sailors, edited by William Cole, Viking Press, 1967, p. 127

I would love to hear your version. Is there a link you can provide to your recording?

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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