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The Shanty Book, Part I, Sailor Shanties   By: (1865-1938)

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The Shanty Book

Part I

Sailor Shanties

(Curwen Edition 6308)

Collected and Edited, with Pianoforte Accompaniment, by RICHARD RUNCIMAN TERRY, with a Foreword by SIR WALTER RUNCIMAN, Bart.


J. Curwen & Sons Ltd., 24 Berners Street, W. 1

Copyright, 1921, by J. Curwen & Sons Ltd.



It is sometimes difficult for old sailors like myself to realize that these fine shanty tunes so fascinating to the musician, and which no sailor can hear without emotion died out with the sailing vessel, and now belong to a chapter of maritime history that is definitely closed. They will never more be heard on the face of the waters, but it is well that they should be preserved with reverent care, as befits a legacy from the generation of seamen that came to an end with the stately vessels they manned with such skill and resource.

In speech, the old time 'shellback' was notoriously reticent almost inarticulate; but in song he found self expression, and all the romance and poetry of the sea are breathed into his shanties, where simple childlike sentimentality alternates with the Rabelaisian humour of the grown man. Whatever landsmen may think about shanty words with their cheerful inconsequence, or light hearted coarseness there can be no two opinions about the tunes, which, as folk music, are a national asset.

I know, of course, that several shanty collections are in the market, but as a sailor I am bound to say that only one Capt. W.B. Whall's 'Sea Songs, Ships, and Shanties' can be regarded as authoritative. Only a portion of Capt. Whall's delightful book is devoted to shanties, of which he prints the melodies only (without accompaniment); and of these he does not profess to give more than those he himself learnt at sea. I am glad, therefore, to welcome Messrs. Curwen's project of a wide and representative collection. Dr. Terry's qualifications as editor are exceptional, since he was reared in an environment of nineteenth century seamen, and is the only landsman I have met who is able to render shanties as the old seamen did. I am not musician enough to criticize his pianoforte accompaniments, but I can vouch for the authenticity of the melodies as he presents them, untampered with in any way.


Shoreston Hall , Chathill , 1921.



FOREWORD by Sir Walter Runciman iii




1 Billy Boy 2

2 Bound for the Rio Grande 4

3 Good bye, fare ye well 6

4 Johnny come down to Hilo 8

5 Clear the track, let the Bullgine run 10

6 Lowlands away 12

7 Sally Brown 16

8 Santy Anna 18

9 Shenandoah 20

10 Stormalong John 22

11 The Hog's eye Man 24

12 The Wild Goose Shanty 26

13 We're all bound to go 28

14 What shall we do with the drunken sailor? 30


15 Blow, my bully boys 32

16 Blow the man down 34

17 Cheer'ly, men 36

18 Good morning, ladies all 38

19 Hanging Johnny 40

20 Hilo Somebody 42

21 Oh run, let the Bullgine run 44

22 Reuben Ranzo 46

23 The Dead Horse 48

24 Tom's gone to... Continue reading book >>

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