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'Twas in the midst of night when darkness was all over,
The moon did give no light, no nor could discover.

Down by some riverside where ships were sailing
A lovely lass I spied weeping and wailing.

I boldly stepped up to her, asked her what grieved her,
The answer that she made, no one could relieve her.

"For they've pressed my love", cried she, "for to cross the wide ocean
And my heart like the sea alway in motion."

"Mark well, my lovely lass, mark well my story,
It was your true love and I fought for England's glory.

And by one heavy shot we both got parted,
Great was the would he got. O! he died valiant-hearted.

That right he had in you to me he gave it
Now since it is my due pray let me have it."

She wrung her hands and cried, flew up in anger,
"Begone young man", cried she, "for I'll wed no stranger."

Into her arms he flewed, he could stay no longer.
"I am your true love," cried he, "I'll deceive no further."

"God bless the ship," cried she, "that brought my lover."
"And God bless the wind," cried he, "that brought me over."

Then they both sat down and sang, but my love sang clearest,
Like a nightingale in spring:- "you're welcome home dearest."

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Source: A Dorset Book of Folk Songs, EFDSS, 1958

Noted from Mr Elliott in September 1905 by the Hammonds. His set was first printed in The Journal of the Folk Song Society III (11) 1907, 95-97. Verse 7 here is introduced from a broadside precursor of the later 17th century, The Valiant Seaman; Mr Elliott did not sing it. The second line of verse 9, which Mr Elliott omitted, has presumably been introduced from elsewhere.

The song appeared on broadsides as The Welcome Sailor; various editions can be seen at ? Bodleian Library Broadside Ballads:

The Welcome Sailor

There are also editions of the earlier broadside:

The valiant sea-mans happy return to his love, after a long seven years absence

The song has not been found very often, but has spread abroad; Roud currently list three versions from America, including one recorded from Warde Ford in 1938 by Stanley Robertson Cowell, Nightingales of Spring; this can be heard at the Library of Congress California Gold site:

Nightingales of spring

Ms. Brocklebank notes that Joseph Elliott had worked periodically in the Newfoundland Fishery, and all the songs he sang for the Hammonds related to the sea and sailors. He later emigrated to Nova Scotia.

Roud: 604 (Search Roud index at VWML) Take Six
Laws: N29

Related Songs:  Claudy Banks (thematic)

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