Group Songs

On this page you will find lyrics for songs I use when I facilitate group singing. They all have choruses or are short enough to learn easily by ear.

Amazing Grace
Barrett’s Privateers
The Black Fly Song
Bold Riley
Bright Morning Stars
Citadel Hill
Cotton Mill Girls
Country Life
Drive Dull Care Away
Far From Home
Farewell to Nova Scotia
Feller From Fortune
Four Strong Winds
The Fox
Free and Easy, Jogging Along
Gypsy Davy
Herring and Potatoes
Hey Arise
Hurry Up, Harry
I’ll Fly Away
I’s the B’y
John Kanaka
A Kangaroo Sat On an Oak
Keep On the Sunny Side
Kettle Valley Line
Klondike
Leave Her, Johnny
Life In a Prairie Shack
Loch Lomond
The Log Driver’s Waltz
Nut Brown Maiden
Oh How Lovely Is the Evening
On Ilkla Moor Baht’at
A Place In the Choir
Red River Valley
Road Full of Green
Roll the Old Chariot Along
Skye Boat Song
Song for the Mira
Star of the County Down
Stormy
This Little Light of Mine
Thyme, ‘Tis a Pretty Flower
Tom’s Gone to Hilo
Up In the Morning Early
We Are Here
Wild Mountain Thyme
Wild Rover
Will the Circle Be Unbroken
The Work of the Weavers


The Songs


Amazing Grace
words: John Newton, tune: Traditional

Amazing grace! how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch; like me!
I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.

’Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears relieved;
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed!

Through many dangers, toils and snares
I have already come
‘Twas grace that led me safe thus far
And grace will lead me home.

The Lord hath promised good to me,
His word my hope secures;
He will my shield and portion be
As long as life endures.

When we’ve been there ten thousand years,
Bright shining as the sun,
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
Than when we first begun.

Hundreds of versions of this popular hymn online, but for learning the tune, here is a simple version by Judy Collins: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u5e6IN_YbwM
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Barrett’s Privateeers
Stan Rogers

O the year was Seventeen Seventy-Eight
How I wish I was in Sherbrooke now
A letter of marque came from the king
To the scummiest vessel I’ve ever seen

God damn them all
I was told we’d cruise the seas for American gold
We’d fire no guns, shed no tears
Now I’m a broken man on a Halifax pier
The last of Barrett’s Privateers

O Elcid Barrett cried the town, How I …
For twenty brave men all fishermen who
Would make for him the Antelope’s crew, God damn …

The Antelope sloop was a sickening site, How I …
She’d list to the port and her sails in rags
And the cook in the scuppers with the staggers and jags, God damn …

On the King’s birthday we put to sea, How I …
Ninety-one days to Montego Bay
Pumping like madmen all the way, God damn …

On the ninety-sixth day we sailed again, How I …
When a great big Yankee hove in sight
With our cracked four-pounders we made to fight, God damn …

The Yankee lay low down with gold, How I …
She was broad and fat and loose in stays
But to catch her took the Antelope two whole days, God damn …

Then at length she stood two cables away, How I …
Our cracked four-pounders made awful din
But with one fat ball the Yank stove us in, God damn …

The Antelope shook and pitched on her side, How I …
Barrett was smashed like a bowl of eggs
And the main truck carried off both me legs, God damn …

Now here I lay in my twenty-third year, How I …
It’s been six years since we sailed away
And I just made Halifax yesterday, God damn …

Stan Rogers recorded several versions of this one. Here is the studio version, from the Fogarty’s Cove album: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C7Ufe0jF-AE

Here is one that is part of a documentary, in which he sings it around a kitchen table with Ryan’s Fancy. It is missing the first couple of verses, but it is great for the live feel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_CTTsHRwWKQ


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The Black Fly Song
Wade Hemsworth

‘Twas early in the spring when I decide to go
For to work up in the woods in north Ontario
The unemployment office said they’d send me through
To the little Abitibi with the survey crew

And the blackflies, the little black flies
Always the black fly, no matter where you go
I’ll die with the black fly picking my bones
In north Ontarioio, in north Ontario

Now the man, Black Toby was the captain of the crew
And he said, “I’m gonna tell you boys what we’re gonna do
They want to build a power dam and we must find a way
For to make the little Ab flow around the other way.”
And the black flies, the little black flies …

So we surveyed to the east and we surveyed to the west
And we couldn’t make our minds up how to do it best
Little Ab, little Ab, what shall I do
For I’m all but goin’ crazy on the survey crew
And the black flies, the little black flies …

It was black fly, black fly everywhere
A-crawlin’ in your whiskers, a-crawlin’ in your hair
A-swimmin’ in the soup, and a-swimmin’ in the tea
Oh the devil take the black fly and let me be
And the black flies, the little black flies …

Black Toby fell to swearin’ ‘cause the work was goin’ slow
And the state of our morale was gettin’ pretty low
The flies swarmed heavy, it was hard to catch your breath
As you staggered up and down the trail talkin’ to yourself
And the black flies, the little black flies …

Now the bull cook’s name was Blind River Joe
If it hadn’t been for him we’d have never pulled through
For he bound up our bruises, and he kidded us for fun
And he lathered us with bacon grease and balsam gum
For the black flies, the little black flies …

At last the job was over, Black Toby said, we’re through
With the little Abitibi and the survey crew
‘Twas a wonderful experience and this I know
I’ll never go again to north Ontario
And the black flies, the little black flies …

Although not an ancient song (1949), this song has passed into oral tradition. It was made into a film by the National Film Board, with singing by its author, Wade Hemsworth. It is available on the NFB website: https://www.nfb.ca/film/blackfly/
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Bold Riley
Traditional Shanty

Goodbye, my darling, goodbye, my dear O,
Bold Riley O, boom-a-lay
Goodbye, my darling, goodbye, my dear O, Bold Riley …
Bold Riley O, gone away

The anchor is weighed and the rags we’ve all set, Bold Riley …
Them Liverpool judies we’ll never forget, Bold Riley …
Goodbye, my darling

The rain it is raining all the day long, Bold Riley …
The northerly winds they blow so strong, Bold Riley …
Goodbye, my darling

Cheer up, Mary Ellen, and don’t look so glum, Bold Riley …
On white-stocking day you’ll be drinking hot rum, Bold Riley …
Goodbye, my darling

We’re outward bound for the Bengal Bay, Bold Riley …
Get bending, my lads, it’s a hell of a way, Bold Riley …
Goodbye, my darling

There are several variants of this song, but this recording is the version I sing, sung by Louis Killen: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ONvXiAmPphg


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Bright Morning Stars
Traditional, Appalachia

Bright morning stars are rising,
Bright morning stars are rising,
Bright morning stars are rising,
Day is a-breaking in my soul.

Oh, where are our dear mothers …
Day is a-breaking in my soul.

They are down in the valley praying …
Day is a-breaking in my soul.

Oh where are our dear fathers …
Day is a-breaking in my soul.

They have gone to heaven shouting …
Day is a-breaking in my soul.

Bright morning stars are rising …
Day is a-breaking in my soul.

Here is a nice version on Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xsKxjEQk6xo


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Citadel Hill
Traditional, Nova Scotia

One day in December I’ll never forget,
A charming young creature I happily met;
Her eyes shone like diamonds,
She was dressed up to kill,
She was tripping and slipping down Citadel Hill.

Sing fall-de-dol doodle-dum,
Fall-de-dol doodle-dum,
Fall-de-dol doodle-dum,
Lidy-I-die.

I says, “My fair creature, you will me excuse!”
I offered my arm and she did not refuse;
Her arm locked in mine
made me feel love’s sweet thrill,
As we walked off together down Citadel Hill, Sing fall-de-dol …

The very next day to the church we did go,
The people all whispered, as well you must know;
Said the priest, “Will you wed?”
Says I, “That we will!”
So we kissed and were hitched upon Citadel Hill, Sing fall-de-dol …

So now we are married and of children have three,
But me and the missus can never agree;
The first she called Bridget, the second one Bill,
Says I, “The runt’s name shall be Citadel Hill,” Sing fall-de-dol …

Come all you young fellows, take warning by me,
If ever in need of a wife you may be;
I’ll tell you the place where you’ll get your fill,
Go tripping and slipping down Citadel Hill, Sing fall-de-dol …

I learned this from the Helen Creighton book, and this recording by Alan Mills is slightly different, but it is the same song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nKA-ZoQrJ_E


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Cotton Mill Girls
Hedy West

I worked in the cotton mill all my life
I ain’t got nothing but a barlow knife
It’s a hard times, cotton mill girls
Hard times everywhere

It’s a hard times, cotton mill girls
A hard times, cotton mill girls
Hard times, cotton mill girls
Hard times everywhere

In 1915 we heard it said
“Move to cotton country and get ahead.”
It’s a hard times, cotton mill girls
Hard times everywhere, It’s a hard times …

From Gilmer to Bartow is a long, long way
Down Cartecay from Ellijay
It’s a hard times, cotton mill girls
Hard times everywhere, It’s a hard times …

When I die don’t bury me at all
Just hang me up on the spinning room wall
And pickle my bones in al-ki-hol
It’s a hard times everywhere, It’s a hard times …

Here is a version by the author: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=osxAimOCP8Q


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Country Life
Traditional, England

I like to rise when the sun she rises,
Early in the morning
And I like to hear them small birds singing,
Merrily upon their layland
And hurrah for the life of a country boy,
And to ramble in the new mown hay.

In spring we sow at the harvest mow
And that is how the seasons round they go
But of all the times choose I may
I’d be rambling in the new mown hay, For I like to rise …

In summer when the summer is hot
We sing, and we dance, and we drink a lot
We spend all night in sport and play
And go rambling in the new mown hay, For I like to rise …

In autumn when the oak trees turn
We gather all the wood that’s fit to burn
We cut and stash and stow away
And go rambling in the new mown hay, For I like to rise …

In winter when the skies are gray
We hedge and ditch our times away,
But in summer when the sun shines gay,
We go rambling in the new mown hay, For I like to rise …

The Watersons recorded the definitive version of this one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OV9M6x8PIJc


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Drive Dull Care Away
Traditional, Prince Edward Island

Oh, why should we our lot complain
Or grieve at our distress?
Some think if they could riches gain
T’would be true happiness
But alas how vain is all their strife
Life’s cares it will not allay
So while we’re here with our friends so dear
We’ll drive dull care away.
Away, away, away, away
We will drive dull care away
So while we’re here with our friends so dear
We’ll drive dull care away.

Why should the rich despise the poor?
Why should the poor repine?
When we will all in a few short years
In equal friendship join
They’re both to blame, they’re all the same
We are all made of one clay,
So while we’re here with our friends so dear
We’ll drive dull care away
Away, away, away, away…

The only circumstance in life
Which I could ever find
To conquer care or temper strife
Was a contented mind
With this in store we have much more
Than all things else can convey
So while we’re here with our friends so dear
We’ll drive dull care away
Away, away, away, away…

So let us make the best of life
Not rendering it a curse
But take it as you would a wife
For better or for worse
Life at its best is but a jest
Like a dreary winter’s day
So while we’re here with our friends so dear
We’ll drive dull care away
Away, away, away, away…

Drive Dull Care Away has only been found once in oral tradition: Sandy Ives noted it from Charles Gorman, on Prince Edward Island. Joe Hickerson sang and recorded it, and gave it a much wider circulation in the US. It is found in a few British broadside collections.
Here is a link to the Joe Hickerson version: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DC-VY3gw7lg

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Far from Home
Traditional, British Columbia

Where mighty waters foam and boil
And rushing torrents roar
In Fraser River’s northern soil
Lies hid the golden ore

Far from home, far from home
On Fraser River’s shore
We labour hard, so does our bard
To dig the golden ore

Far, far from home we miners roam
We feel its joys no more
These we have sold for yellow gold
On Fraser River’s shore
Far from home, far from home, …

In cabins rude, our daily food
Is quickly counted o’er
Beans, bread, salt meat is all we eat
And the cold earth is our floor
Far from home, far from home
, …

Lonely our lives, no mothers’, wives’
Or sisters’ love runs o’er
When home we come at set of sun
To greet us at the door
Far from home, far from home, …

At night we smoke, then crack a joke
Try cards ‘til found a bore
Our goodnight said, we go to bed
To dream of home once more
Far from home, far from home, …

With luck at last, our hardships past
We’ll head for home once more
And greet the sight with wild delight
Of California’s shore
Far from home, far from home, …

And once on shore, we never more
Will roam through all our lives
A home we’ll find, just to our mind
And call our sweethearts wives
Far from home, far from home, …

Traditional folk song from British Columbia. Lyrics from a mining magazine, tune Phillip J. Thomas. Recorded by Jon Bartlett and Rika Ruebsaat on Green Fields of Canada. Here is a link to that recording on Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bCb3OPVTFgw

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Farewell to Nova Scotia
Traditional, Nova Scotia

The sun was setting in the west
The birds were singing on ev’ry tree
All nature seemed inclined to rest
But still there was no rest for me

Farewell to Nova Scotia, the sea-bound coast
Let your mountains dark and dreary be
And when I am far away on the briny oceans tossed
Will you ever heave a sigh and a wish for me?

The drums they do beat and the wars do alarm
The captain calls, I must obey
So farewell, farewell to Nova Scotia’s charms
For it’s early in the morning and I’m far, far away
Farewell to Nova Scotia …

I grieve to leave my native land
I grieve to leave my comrades all
And my aged parents whom I always held so dear
And the bonnie, bonnie lass that I do adore
Farewell to Nova Scotia …

I have three brothers and they are at rest
Their arms are folded on their breast
But a poor simple sailor just like me
Must be tossed and driven on the dark blue sea
Farewell to Nova Scotia …

The Atlantic provinces are rich sources of traditional songs, and one that many people know outside that region is Farewell to Nova Scotia, popularized in the 1960s by Catherine McKinnon. This song was collected by Helen Creighton, Nova Scotia’s pre-eminant folk song collector, and can be found in many songbooks and on Youtube in many versions.


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Feller From Fortune
Traditional, Newfoundland

Oh, there’s lots of fish in Bonavist’ harbour,
Lots of fish right in around here’
Boys and girls are fishin’ together’
Forty-five from Carbonear.

Oh, catch-a-hold dis one, catch-a-hold dat one
Swing around dis one, swing around she
Dance around dis one, dance around dat one
Diddle-um dis one, diddle-um dee.

Oh, Sally is the pride of Cat Harbour,
Ain’t been swung since last year
Drinkin’ rum and wine and cassis
What the boys brought home from St Pierre.
Oh, catch-a-hold this one, catch-a-hold that one … 

Oh, Sally goes to church every Sunday
Not for to sing nor for to hear
But to see the feller from Fortune
What was down here fishin’ the year .  Oh, catch-a-hold this one … 

Oh, Sally’s got a bouncin’ new baby,
Father said that he didn’t care
‘Cause she got that from the feller from Fortune
What was down here fishin’ the year.  Oh, catch-a-hold this one, … 

Oh, Uncle George got up in the mornin’,
He got up in a hell of a tear
Tore the arse right out of his trousers
Now he’s got ne’er pair to wear.  Oh, catch-a-hold this one, … 

Oh, there’s lots of fish in Bonavist’ Harbour,
Lots of fishermen in around here;
Swing your partner, Jimmy Joe Jacobs,
I’II be home in the spring of the year.  Oh, catch-a-hold this one, … 

Here is a link to me singing this with Daphne Volante, from Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KL42OZirlKY


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Four Strong Winds
Ian Tyson

Four strong winds that blow lonely
Seven seas that run high
All these things that don’t change, come what may
But our good times are all gone
And I’m bound for moving on
I’ll look for you if I’m ever back this way

I think I’ll go out to Alberta
Weather’s good there in the fall
Got some friends that I can go to working for
Still I wish you’d change your mind
If I asked you one more time
But we’ve been through that
a hundred times or more
Four strong winds that blow lonely . . .

If I get there before the snow flies
And if things are going good
You could meet me if I sent you down the fare
But by then it would be winter
Not too much for you to do
And those winds sure can blow coldway out there
Four strong winds that blow lonely . . .

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The Fox
Traditional, Britain, U.S.

The fox went out on a chilly night,
He prayed to the Moon to give him light,
For he’d many a mile to go that night
Before he reached the town-o, town-o, town-o,
Many a mile to go that night
Before he reached the town-o.

He ran till he came to the farmer’s pen
Where the ducks and the geese were put therein.
“A couple of you will grease my chin
before I leave this town-o, town-o, town-o,” …

He grabbed the grey goose by the neck,
Threw a duck behind his back;
He didn’t mind the quack, quack, quack,
And the legs all a-dangling down-o, down-o, down-o …

Old Mother Flipper Flopper jumped out of bed;
Out of the window she stuck her head,
Crying, “John, John! The grey goose is gone
and the fox is on the town-o, town-o, town-o!”

Then John he ran to the top of the hill,
Blew his horn both loud and shrill,
The fox, he said, “I’d better flee with my kill
Or they’ll soon be on my trail-o, trail-o, trail-o.”

He ran till he came to his cozy den;
There were the little ones eight, nine, ten.
They said, “Daddy, better go back again,
‘Cause it must be a mighty fine town-o, town-o, town-o!”

Then the fox and his wife without any strife
Cut up the goose with a fork and knife.
They never had such a supper in their life
And the little ones chewed on the bones-o, bones-o, bones-o,

Here is the version, by Burl Ives, that I first heard as a child: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r_dQFVSbyrY


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Free and Easy Jogging Along
Traditional, Ontario

Oh it’s of my rambles I’m going to sing
Like a rambling blackbird all in the spring
The summer sunbeams shone all day long
I was free and easy jogging along
The summer sunbeams shone all day long
I was free and easy jogging along.

It’s when we all came to Belleville green
The boys and the girls were there to be seen
The happiest lad amongst the throng
I was free and easy jogging along
The happiest lad amongst the throng …

It’s then we all went to Belleville quay
It was just twelve miles from Belleville green
They sat me down to sing a song
‘Twas called free and easy… They sat me down …

Oh we had not sailed ‘bout two or three days
When a pretty fair maid stared me in the face
“Oh,” she said, “Are you a married man?”
“No, I’m free… “Oh,” she said …

I took her over to yonder inn
I ordered liquor, both ale and gin
She wanted to join both heart and hand
Forget free … She wanted …

“No,” I said, “Fair maiden, that ne’er can be
For I’m resolved to cross the sea
When a man gets married his race is run
I’ll go free … When a man …”

Originally Irish, this song has been localized to Belleville, Ontario. I can’t find the reference but I believe it is from the Edith Fowke collection.


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Gypsy Davy
Traditional, Ontario

A Gypsy Davy came to town
A-riding on a pony
He whistled while he sang and the green woods rang
And he won the heart of a lady.

Fal the dal da, fal the dee die doh
Fal the dal da doh day dee
He whistled while he sang and the green woods rang
And he won the heart of a lady.

The lady to her window came
With the servant maids behind her
She listened while he sang and the green woods rang
And he won the heart of a lady.

Fal the dal da, fal the dee die doh
Fal the dal da doh day dee
She listened while he sang and the green woods rang
And he won the heart of a lady.

Her lord came home in the middle of the night
Returning to his lady
But she had gone with the cold, cold dawn
Had gone with the Gypsy Davy
Fal the dal da, …

“Oh, harness up my milk white steed
The brown is not so speedy
I’ll ride all day and I’ll ride all night
Til I overtake my lady.”
Fal the dal da, …

So he rode east and he rode west
And he swore that he would find her
And by his side then she would ride
And a thousand cords would bind her.
Fal the dal da, …

So he rode east and he rode west
And he rode til he found his lady
His sword he drew, his wife he slew
Before the Gypsy Davy.
Fal the dal da, …

Last night I slept on a feather bed
With servants all around me
Tonight I die on the cold cold ground
Beside the Gypsy Davy.
Fal the dal da, …

From the singing of Larena Clark, published in A Family Heritage, Edith Fowke, p 33. There are lots of versions online but none is exactly the same as this one.
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Herring and Potatoes
Winnifred Proutherou, Cape Breton Island, NS

When I went down to Boston
They served me fish with frosting
The money it was costing
Was not for the likes of me, give me
Herring and potatoes
Herring and potatoes
Herring and potatoes
That’s good enough for me.

In old Cape Breton, Nova
We’re livin’ in the clover
With herring and potatoes
And a good, strong cup of tea, it’s those
Herring and potatoes  …

When I went up the Mira
That’s where I met Elvira
And now she’s Mrs. Ira
And we’re happy as can be, eating
Herring and potatoes  …

A girl came up from Brooklyn
Just as we were cookin’
You should have seen her lookin’
At what we had for tea, it was
Herring and potatoes  …

She called my wife a joker
And hauled off for to poke her
When the bones began to choke her
And southward she did flee, from those
Herring and potatoes  …

Now we’re happy in Cape Breton
‘Cause the rising costs we’re beatin’
And you should see what we’re eatin’
‘Cause it’s good enough for me, it’s those
Herring and potatoes  …

This was the winning entry of a songwriting contest on Cape Breton Island. It has gone into oral tradition over the years.
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Hey Arise and Come Along
Traditional, Ontario

Hey arise and come along!
Oh, arise and come along!
Rise, arise and come along
And bid adieu to Canada.

Here I lie all alone
On the California shore,
And the lass that I adore
She mourns alone in Canada.
Hey arise …

The day is fine, the wind is fair,
And it’s swiftly flows the tide.
The boat is sailing o’er the main
To bring me far from Canada.
Hey arise …

Tell that handsome girl of mine
If I return before I die
That I will drive her in great style
Along the roads of Canada.
Hey arise …

In Quebec, this noble town
We arrived here safe and sound
And in the tavern we’ll sit down
And drink a health to Canada.
Hey arise …

Collected by Edith Fowke from the singing of Mrs. A. Fraser, Glengarry, Ontario
in Traditional Singers and Songs from Ontario, 1965
I haven’t found this in a recording so if you can’t find the book contact me and I will sing it for you.


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Hurry Up, Harry
Traditional, Ontario

Come all you true born shantyboys and listen unto me
And whene’er a woodsman that you may chance to see
We are a merry set of boys, so handsome, young and fine
And spend a jolly winter a-cutting down the pine.

So it’s hurry up, Harry, and Tom or Dick or Joe
And you may take the pail, boys, and for the water go
In the middle of the splashing, the cook will “Dinner!” cry
And you’d ought to see them hurry up for fear they’d lose their pie.

There’s blackstrap molasses, buns as hard as rock
Tea that’s boiled in an old tin pail and smells just like your socks
The beans they are sour, and the porridge thick as dough
When we have stashed this in our craw, it’s to the woods we’ll go
So it’s hurry up, Harry, …

A-hitching up our braces and a-binding up our feet
A-grinding up our axes, for our kind is hard to beat!
A-shouldering up our crosscuts and through the woods we go
We make a jolly set of boys a-trudging through the snow.
So it’s hurry up, Harry, …

So deeply in that tree of pine we notch to guide its fall
And not a man among us but will hear the timber call
And when it crashes to the ground, we’ll fall to with a will
A-trimmin’ up the branches and a-swearin’ fit to kill.
So it’s hurry up, Harry, …

Arriving at the shanty, wet, tired and with wet feet
We all toake off our socks and boots, our supper for to eat
At nine o’clock or thereabouts into the bunks we crawl
To sleep away the few  short hours until the morning’s call
So it’s hurry up, Harry, …

From the singing of Larena Clark, published in A Family Heritage, Edith Fowke, p 234.

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I’ll Fly Away
Albert E. Brumley

Some bright morning when this life is over
I’ll fly away
To that home on God’s celestial shore
I’ll fly away

I’ll fly away, oh glory
I’ll fly away, in the morning
When I die, Hallelujah by and by
I’ll fly away

When the shadows of this life have gone
I’ll fly away
Like a bird from these prison walls I’ll fly
I’ll fly away, I’ll fly away …

Oh, how glad and happy when we meet
I’ll fly away
No more cold iron shackles on my feet
I’ll fly away, I’ll fly away …

Just a few more weary days and then
I’ll fly away
To a land where joys will never end
I’ll fly away, I’ll fly away …

There are many versions of this song. Here is one by Alison Kraus: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1BPoMIQHwpo


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I’s the B’y
Traditional, Newfoundand

I’s the b’y that builds the boat,
And I’s the b’y that sails her,
I’s the b’y that catches the fish,
And brings them home to Liza

Hip your partner, Sally Tibbo,
Hip your partner, Sally Brown,
Fogo, Twillingate, Morton’s Harbour,
All around the circle

Sods and rinds to cover your flake,
Cake and tea for supper,
Codfish in the spring of the year,
Fried in maggoty butter!
Hip your partner, …

I don’t want your maggoty fish,
That’s no good for winter.
I could buy as good as that,
Hip your partner, …

I took Liza to a dance,
Faith, but she could travel!
Every step that she did take
Was up to her knees in gravel!
Hip your partner, …

Susan White, she’s out of sight,
Her petticoat needs a border,
Old Sam Oliver in the dark
He kissed her in the corner!
Hip your partner, …

Sally’s got a brand new dress
Sally’s got a fine one
Sally’s got a brand new dress
Her mother made out of the old one.
Hip your partner, …

There are lots of versions of this on recordings and Youtube. And here is the notation:

I’s the B’y

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John Kanaka
Traditional Shanty

I thought I heard the old man say
John Kanakanaka tooriyay
Today, today is a holiday
John Kanakanaka tooriyay

Tooriyay, oh, tooriyay
John Kanakanaka tooriyay

We’re outward bound to ‘Frisco Bay,
John …
We’re outward bound at the break of day,
John … Tooriyay …

And when you wallop around Cape Horn, John …
You’ll wish to Christ you’d never been born, John … Tooriyay …

Just one more pull and that’ll do, John …
For we’re the bullies to see her through, John …
Tooriyay …

I thought I heard the old man say, John …
Today, today is a holiday, John …
Tooriyay …

Here is a fun rendition of this song, and there are many more out there: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cscqAdLuCnY


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A Kangaroo Sat On an Oak
Traditional, Nova Scotia

A kangaroo sat on an oak,
To my inkum kiddy kum kimo,
Watching a tailor mend his coat,
To my inkum kiddy kum kimo.

Kimi neero kiddy kum keero
Kimi neero kimo
Ba ba ba ba billy illy inkum
Inkum kiddy kum kimo.

Bring me my arrow and my bow, To my inkum …
Till I go shoot that kangaroo, To my inkum …
Kimi neero …

The old man fired; he missed his mark; To my inkum …
He shot the old sow through the heart, To my inkum …
Kimi neero …

Bring me some ‘lasses in a spoon, To my inkum …
Till I go heal that old sow’s wound, To my inkum …
Kimi neero …

Oh, now the old sow’s dead and gone, To my inkum …
Her little ones go waddling on, To my inkum …
Kimi neero …

This song was collected by Helen Creighton in Nova Scotia. It is a version of a British song about a carrion crow, which someone changed to a kangaroo, either because they didn’t hear it right or for fun. You won’t find kangaroos in the oak trees of Nova Scotia. Recorded by Jon Bartlett and Rika Ruebsaat on Come to Me in Canada.
Youtube:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fSustaJS6W8
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Keep On the Sunny Side
A.P. Carter

There’s a dark and a troubled side of life
There’s a bright and a sunny side, too
Though we meet with the darkness and strife
The sunny side we also may view

Keep on the sunny side, always on the sunny side
Keep on the sunny side of life
It will help us every day, it will brighten all the way
If we’ll keep on the sunny side of life

The storm and its fury broke today
Crushing hopes that we cherished so dear
Clouds and storm will in time pass away
The sun again will shine bright and clear, Keep on …

Let us greet with a song of hope each day
Though the moment be cloudy or fair
Let us trust in our Savior always
To keep us everyone in his care, Keep on …

Here is the Carter Family version: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZbmQQ4RfzVE


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The Kettle Valley Line
Ean Hay & Stan Triggs

I always ride upon the roof,
On the Kettle Valley line,
I always ride upon the roof,
On the Kettle Valley line,
I always ride upon the roof,
I could ride inside, but what’s the use?
So I always ride upon the roof
On the Kettle Valley Line.

I order my meals through the ventilator,
On the Kettle Valley Line, …
Tastes no worse, saves tippin’ the waiter,
So I order …

I get my sandwich from the cook,
On the Kettle Valley Line, …
And he pockets my money, the dirty crook, …

Those railway bulls are gentlemen
On the Kettle Valley Line …
We’ll never see their like again …

They tip their hats and they call you “Sir”
On the Kettle Valley Line …
Then throw you in the local stir, …

I always ride upon the roof …

BC folk group, Fraser Union, does a good version of this song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VGflurGyfL0


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Klondike
Traditional, British Columbia

Oh, come to the place where they struck it rich
Come where the treasure lies hid
Where your hat full of mud is a five-pound note
And a clod on your heel is a quid.

Klondike, Klondike
Label your luggage for Klondike
Oh, there ain’t no luck in the town today
There ain’t no work down Moodyville way
So pack up your traps and be off, I say
Off and away to the Klondike.

Oh, they scratches the earth and it tumbles out
More than your hands can hold
For the hills above and the plains beneath
A crackin’ and bustin’ with gold.
Klondike, Klondike  …

Songs of the Pacific Northwest, PT Thomas. From the singing of Captain Charles Cates. Recorded by Jon Bartlett & Rika Ruebsaat on Young Man From Canada.Youtube:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wjRyLk2OOig
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Leave Her, Johnny, Leave Her
Traditional Shanty

I thought I heard the old man say
Leave her, Johnny, leave her
Just pump her out and draw your pay
An’ it’s time for us to leave her.

Leave her, Johnny, leave her
Oh, leave her, Johnny, leave her
For the voyage is done and the winds don’t blow
An’ it’s time for us to leave her.

The work wuz hard an’ the voyage wuz long
The sea was high an’ the gales wuz strong.

The grub wuz bad an’ the wages low
But now once more ashore we’ll go.

The winds wuz foul, all work no play
To Liverpool Docks from Frisco Bay.

The Old Man swears an’ the mate swears too
The crew all swear an’ so would you.

The sails is furled an’ our work is  done
An’ now ashore we’ll have a  bit o’ fun

The times is tough and the ship is old
Six feet of water in her hold

Our arms are sore and our backs are humped
And half the lake’s gone through our pumps

We’ll make her fast and stow our gear
The gals are a-waitin’ on the pier.

Now I thought I heard the Old Man say
One more good heave an’ then belay.

Verses compiled from Stan Hugill and Ian Bell.
Many people have recorded this one, but this is the most “ordinary blokes” version I have found:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XQccktHkCv4


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Life in a Prairie Shack
Traditional, Prairies

Oh, a life in a prairie shack, when the rain begins to pour
Drip, drip, it comes through the roof
And some comes through the door
The tenderfoot curses his fate and faintly mutters, “Ah!
This bloomin’ country’s a fraud
And I want to go home to my Maw!”

“Maw! Maw! I want to go home to my Maw!
This bloomin’ country’s a fraud
And I want to go home to my Maw!”

Oh, he saddled his fiery cayuse
Determined to flourish around
The critter began to buck and threw him off on the ground
And as he picked himself up he was heard to mutter, “Ah!
This bloomin’ country’s a fraud
And I want to go home to my Maw!”
“Maw! Maw! I want to go home to my Maw! …

Oh, he tried to light a fire at twenty degrees below
He made a lick at a stick and amputated his toe
And as he crawled to his shack
He was heard to mutter, “Ah!
This bloomin’ country’s a fraud
And I want to go home to my Maw!”
“Maw! Maw! I want to go home to my Maw! …

Now all you tenderfeet list’, before you go too far
If you haven’t a government sit
You’d better stay where you are
And if you take my advice then you’ll not mutter, “Ah!
This bloomin’ country’s a fraud
And I want to go home to my Maw!”
“Maw! Maw! I want to go home to my Maw! …

I can’t find anything on Youtube for this one.

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Loch Lomond
Traditional, Scotland

By yon bonnie banks and by yon bonnie braes
Where the sun shines bright on Loch Lomond
Where me and my true love were ever wont to gae
On the bonnie bonnie banks of Loch Lomond

Oh, ye’ll take the high road and I’ll take the low road
And I’ll be in Scotland afore ye
But me and my true love will never meet again
On the bonnie, bonnie banks of Loch Lomond

‘Twas there that we parted in yon shady glen
On the steep, steep side of Ben Lomond
Where, in deep purple hue the highland hills we viewed
And the moon coming out in the gloaming
Oh, ye’ll take the high road …

The wee birdies sing and the wild flowers spring
And in sunshine the waters are sleeping
But the broken heart will ken no second spring again
And the world does not know how we’re greeting
Oh, ye’ll take the high road …

This is a dirge about a dead soldier being shipped back to Scotland after battle, and I always sing it slowly and mournfully.
Here is a nice recording of it, though you will find many online: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7vJLRVmeJBk


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The Log Driver’s Waltz
Wade Hemsworth

If you ask any girl from the parish around
What pleases her most from her head to her toes
She’ll say, “I’m not sure that it’s business of yours
But I do like to waltz with a log driver.”

For he goes birling down a-down the white waters
That’s how the log driver learns to step lightly
Birling down a-down the white waters
The log driver’s waltz pleases girls completely.

When the drive’s nearly over we like to go down
And watch all the lads as they work on the river
When evening comes round they’ll be in the town
We all love to waltz with a log driver
For he goes …

Now to please both my parents 
I’ve had to give way
And dance with the doctors
, the merchants and lawyers
Their manners are fine but their feet are of clay
There’s none with the style of my log driver
For he goes …

Now I’ve had my chances with all sorts of men
But there’s none so fine as my lad on the river
And when the drive’s over, if he asks me again
I think I will marry my log driver
For he goes …

One of the best available versions of this song is the cartoon produced by the National Film Board, with singing by Kate and Anna McGarrigle. Here is the link to the NFB site showing this video:  http://nfb.ca/film/log_drivers_waltz
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Nut Brown Maiden
Traditional, Scotland

Horo my nut brown maiden
Hee ree my nut brown maiden
Horo ro maiden
For she’s the maid for me.

Her eye so mildly beaming
Her look so frank and free
In waking or in dreaming
Is evermore with me. Horo  …

O Mary, mild-eyed Mary
By land or on the sea
Though time or tide may vary
My heart beats true for thee.  Horo …

And since from thee I parted
A long and weary while
I wander heavy hearted
With longing for thy smile.  Horo…

Mine eyes that never vary
from pointing to the glen
Where blooms my Highland Mary
Lik wild rose ‘neath the ben.  Horo…

And when the blossoms laden
Bright summer comes again
I’ll fetch my nut brown maiden
Down from the bonnie glen.  Horo…

“One of the most popular songs of the Highlands, this was translated from the Gaelic in the nineteenth century by the Scottish poet John Stuart Blackie.” From Songs of England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales, William Cole, Doubleday & Company, Inc.
Here is a version by the Corries: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RXILQsEQJ-M


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Oh How Lovely Is the Evening
Traditional, Germany

Oh, how lovely is the evening, is the evening
When the bells are sweetly ringing, sweetly ringing
Ding dong, ding dong, ding dong.

This song is a round, originally from Germany but quite popular here in Canada. Here is a children’s choir doing a nice, simpler version: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F6QwIVlwTVg


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On Ilkla Moor Baht’ at
Traditional, Yorkshire

Where ‘ast tha bin since I saw thee, I saw thee?
On Ilkla Moor baht ‘at
Where ‘ast tha bin since I saw thee, I saw thee?
Where ‘ast tha bin since I saw thee? (on Ilka Moor baht’at)
On Ilkla Moor baht ‘at
On Ilkla Moor baht ‘at
On Ilkla Moor baht ‘at

Tha’s been a courtin’ Mary Jane, Mary Jane
On Ilkla Moor baht’at …

Tha’s bound to catch thy death o’ cold …

Then us’ll have to bury thee …

Then t’worms’ll come an eat thee up …

Then t’ducks’ll come an’ eat up t’worms …

Then us’ll go an’ eat up t’ducks …

Then us’ll all have etten thee …

This is one of the few traditional songs I learned from my dad. He learned it in England during WWII. There are several versions online, but I like this one by a rugby group, for its raw feel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J5leMI95urQ


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A Place in the Choir
Bill Staines

All God’s critters got a place in the choir
Some sing low, some sing higher
Some sing out loud on the telephone wires
And some just clap their hands, or paws, or anything they got now

Listen to the bass, it’s the one on the bottom
Where the bullfrog croaks and the hippopotamus
Moans and groans with a big t’do
And the old cow just goes moo,  All God’s critters …

The dogs and the cats they take up the middle
While the honeybee hums and the cricket fiddles
The donkey brays and the pony neighs
And the old coyote howls,  All God’s critters …

Listen to the top where the little birds sing
On the melodies with the high notes ringing
The hoot owl hollers over everything
And the jaybird disagrees,  All God’s critters …

Singin’ in the night time, singing in the day
The little duck quacks, then he’s on his way
The ‘possum ain’t got much to say
And the porcupine talks to himself,  All God’s critters …

It’s a simple song of living sung everywhere
By the ox and the fox and the grizzly gear
The grumpy alligator the the hawk above
The sly raccoon and the turtle dove,  All God’s critters …

Many people do this song, but here is a version by the author himself. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l4CDPLHHY9s


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Red River Valley
Traditional, Manitoba

From this valley they say you are going
I shall miss your bright eyes and sweet smile
For alas you take with you the sunshine
That has brightened my pathway awhile.

Come and sit by my side if you love me
Do not hasten to bid me adieu
But remember the Red River Valley
And the girl who has loved you so true.

For this long, long time I have waited
For the words that you never would say
But now my last hope has vanished
When they tell me that you’re going away. Come and sit …

Oh, there never could be such a longing
In the heart of a white maiden’s breast
As there is in the heart that is breaking
With love for the boy who came west.   Come and sit …

When you go to your home by the ocean
May you never forget the sweet hours
That we spent in the Red River Valley
Or the vows we exchanged ‘mid the bowers.  Come and sit …

Will you think of the valley you’re leaving?
Oh, how lonely and dreary ‘twill be!
Will you think of the fond heart you’re breaking
And be true to your promise to me?  Come and sit …

The dark maiden’s prayer for her lover
To the spirit that rules o’er the world
His pathway with sunshine may cover
Leave his grief to the Red River girl.  Come and sit …

from the Penguin Book of Canadian Folk Songs, Edith Fowke. Although many think of this as an American song, it was first collected in Canada. Nevertheless, it is sung widely in the States as well as Canada, from the male point of view as well as the female. Here is one of many versions of this song available online, recorded by Boxcar Willie. I like the pace and feel of it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xv7ZWN99BLA


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Road Full of Green
Maura Volante, © 1988

Walking on a road full of green
Many different trees to be seen
Spruce and cedar, apple and plum
Pine and fir and maple and elm

Walking on a road full of green
Many different plants to be seen
Queen Anne’s lace and clover and fern
Blackberry and tansy and thorn

Walking on a road full of green
Many different animals to be seen
Cows and cats and horses and dogs
Deer and mice and snakes and groundhogs

Walking on a road full of green
Many different bugs to be seen
Butterflies, mosquitos and flies
Ants and spiders and dragonflies

Walking on a road full of green
Walking on a road full of green
Walking on a road full of green

I haven’t recorded this song, so you will have to ask me for the tune if you want to learn it.


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Roll the Old Chariot Along
Traditional Shanty

We’ll be alright if the wind is in our sails
We’ll be alright if the wind is in our sails
We’ll be alright if the wind is in our sails
And we’ll all hand on behind!

And we’ll roll the old chariot along!
We’ll roll the golden chariot along!
We’ll roll the old chariot along!
And we’ll all hang on behind!

We’ll be alright if we make it round the horn …And we’ll all hang on behind! And we’ll roll …

A drop of Nelson’s blood wouldn’t do us any harm, And we’ll roll …

A plate of Irish stew wouldn’t do us any harm, And we’ll roll …

A roll in the clover wouldn’t do us any harm … And we’ll roll …

A long spell in gaol wouldn’t do us any harm … And we’ll roll …

A nice watch below wouldn’t do us any harm … And we’ll roll …

A night with the gals wouldn’t do us any harm … And we’ll roll …

Here’s a good version of this well-known shanty: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=49FWp7WLYKw
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Skye Boat Song
Lyrics: Harold Boulton, Traditional tune, Scotland

Speed, bonnie boat, like a bird on the wing,
Onward! the sailors cry;
Carry the lad that’s born to be King
Over the sea to
Skye.

Loud the winds howl, loud the waves roar,
Thunderclaps rend the air;
Baffled, our foes stand on the shore,
Follow they will not dare. Speed, bonnie boat …

Though the waves leap, soft shall ye sleep,
Ocean’s a royal bed.
Rocked in the deep, Flora will keep
Watch by your weary head. Speed, bonnie boat …

Many’s the lad, fought in that day
Well the claymore did wield;
When the night came, silently lay
Dead on Culloden’s field. Speed, bonnie boat …

Burned are their homes, exile and death
Scatter the loyal men;
Yet ere the sword cool in the sheath
Charlie will come again. Speed, bonnie boat …

Although the author is documented, this has become a traditional song over the years, and is one of the few I have from my family. My grandmother Florence used to sing it to us: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cX9AYW7S09U


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Song for the Mira
Allister MacGillivray

Out on the Mira one warm afternoon,
Old men go fishing with black line and spoon
And if they catch nothing they never complain,
I wish I was with them again.

As boys in their boats call to girls on the shore,
Teasing the one that they really adore,
And into the evening the courting begins,
I wish I was with them again.

Can you imagine a piece of the universe
more fit for princes and kings?
I’ll give you ten of your cities
for Marion bridge and the pleasure it brings

Out on the Mira on soft summer nights
Bonfires blaze to the children’s delight
They dance round the flames singing songs with their friends;
I wish I was with them again.

And over the ashes the stories are told
Of witches and werewolves and Oak Island gold
The stars on the river they sparkle and spin;
I wish I was with them again.  Can you imagine …

Out on the Mira the people are kind,
They’ll treat you to home-brew and help you unwind.
And if you come broken they’ll see that you mend
I wish I was with them again.

And thus I conclude with a wish you go well,
Sweet be your dreams, may your happiness swell,
I’ll leave you here, for my journey begins,
I’m going to be with them, going to be with them,
I’m going to be with them again.

Many singers have performed and recorded this song. This version by McGinty, a Nova Scotia band, is light and lilting, with not too much fancy arrangement: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pT-Mhx3N1Xc


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Star of the County Down
Traditional, Ireland

Near Banbridge town, in the County Down
One morning last July
Down a boreen green came a sweet colleen
And she smiled as she passed me by.

She looked so sweet from her two white feet
To the sheen of her nut-brown hair
Such a winsome elf, I’d to shake myself
To be sure I was really there.

From Bantry Bay up to Derry Quay
And from Galway to Dublin town
No maid I’ve seen like the sweet colleen
That I met in the County Down.

As she onward sped I shook my head
And I gazed with a feeling rare
And I said, says I, to a passerby
“Who’s the maid with the nut-brown hair?”

He smiled at me, and with pride says he,
“That’s the gem of Ireland’s crown.
Young Rosie McCann from the banks of the Bann
She’s the star of the County Down.”
From Bantry Bay up to Derry Quay …

At the harvest fair I’ll be surely there
And I’ll dress in my Sunday clothes
With my hat cocked right and my shoes shone bright
For a smile from the nut brown rose.

No pipe I’ll smoke, no horse I’ll yoke
Til my plow is a rust coloured brown
‘Til a smiling bride by my own fireside
Sits the star of the County Down.
From Bantry Bay up to Derry Quay …

There are many versions of this online. Here is one that is kind of fun: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n8WBWxsUcqU
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Stormy
Traditional Shanty, British Columbia

Oh, Stormy’s gone, that good old man
Way, hay, Stormalong
Oh, Stormy’s gone, that good old man
Ai, ai, Mister Stormalong

An able seaman, through and through
Way, hay, …
A good old skipper to his crew
Ai, ai, …

We dug his grave with a silver spade,  Way, hay
His shroud of the finest silk was made,  Ai, ai,

We lowered him down with a silver chain,  Way, hay
Our eyes were dim but not from rain,  Ai, ai,

He’s moored his ship, he’s furled his sails,  Way, hay
No danger now from wreck or gale,  Ai, ai,

Oh Stormy’s gone, that good old man,  Way, hay
Oh Stormy’s gone, that good old man,  Ai, ai,

Sea shanty, sung internationally by English speaking sailors. Collected by Phil Thomas from the singing of Captain Cates, North Vancouver. On Tall Ships on the Fraser, Vancouver Folk Song Society, sung by Simon Trevelyan
(Youtube:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dlfjh-GlR9U&list=OLAK5uy_lwAKQF62NEsdu9LzKFZFeeR-rB9OCGivY&index=17)
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This Little Light of Mine
Henry Dixon Loes

This little light of mine
I’m gonna let it shine
This little light of mine
I’m gonna let it shine
This little light of mine
I’m gonna let it shine
Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.

Everywhere I go
I’m gonna let it shine …

All around the world …

Hide it under a bushel? – No! …

Won’t let anyone whhhh it out, …

This little light of mine …

You can always count on Raffi for a nice, simple version: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X41rUmPZhH4


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Thyme ‘Tis a Pretty Flower
Traditional, Ontario

Thyme ‘tis a pretty flower
That grows out under the sun
And it’s time you and I have come to an end

For it’s now our time rolls on.

It’s very well drinking ale
But it’s still better drinking wine
And it’s far better sitting on a bonny boy’s knee
That gains this heart of mine.
Thyme ‘tis a pretty flower …

Oh, she walks in the garden
This lady oh so fine
And she weeds her gardens green
Lest no one steal her thyme.
Thyme ‘tis a pretty flower …

It’s very well drinking ale …
Thyme ‘tis a pretty flower …

From the singing of LaRena Clark, Ontario. On her Folkways album, A Canadian Garland. Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=djnccfT2KLM

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Tom’s Gone to Hilo
Traditional Shanty

My Tommy’s gone, what shall I do
Away to Hilo
My Tommy’s gone and I’ll go, too
Tom’s gone to Hilo

My Tommy’s gone to Mobile Bay, Away …
A-screwin’ cotton all the day, Tom’s gone …

My Tommy’s gone to Baltimore, Away …
That’s where they take the cotton ashore, Tom’s gone …

My Tommy’s gone to far Quebec, Away …
A-stowin’ timber on the deck, Tom’s gone …

My Tommy’s gone to Montreal, Away …
In a packet ship with skys’ls tall, Tom’s gone …

My Tommy’s gone to the Gatineau, Away …
A-cuttin’ timber in the snow, Tom’s gone …

Just one more pull and that will do, Away …
Just one more pull and that will do, Tom’s gone …

I learned this song from the VFSS shanty album, Tall Ships on the Fraser, then added verses from Stan Hugill and made up the Gatineau verse myself. Here is the VFSS version: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YmKldcL59UI


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Up In the Morning, Early
Robert Burns

Cauld blaws the wind frae east to west
The drift is driving sairly
Sae loud and shrill’s I hear the blast
I’m sure it’s winter, fairly!

Up in the morning’s no’ for me
Up in the morning, early
When a’ the hills are covered wi’ snaw
I’m sure it’s winter, fairly!

The birds sit chittering in the thorn
A day they fare but sparely
And lang’s the night frae e’en to morn
I’m sure it’s winter, fairly!
Up in the morning’s no’ for me 

Here is a version I found on Youtube: www.youtube.com/watch?v=jE7DofGSa60
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We Are Here
Maura Volante © 1989

We are here in this place
And our roots are growing deeper
We are here in this place
And our branches reach so high
We are here in this place
And we intertwine our branches
We are here in this place
Joined together earth and sky

We are here in this place
And we bloom in many colours
We are here in this place
As we grow beneath the sun
We are here in this place
And our branches weave together
We are here in this place
And together we are one

Thisis a song I wrote in 1989, when I had a two-year-old daughter and was living much in the world of children. It is good with kids but I have sung it more often with adults.

Here is the tune as a pdf:

We Are Here
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Wild Mountain Thyme
Traditional, Scotland

O the summer time is coming
And the leaves are sweetly blooming
And the wild mountain thyme
Grows around the blooming heather.

Will you go, lassie, go?
And we’ll all go together,
To pull wild mountain thyme,
All around the blooming heather.
Will you go, lassie, go?

I will build my love a bower,
By yon clear crystal fountain,
And on it I will shower,
All the flowers of the mountain. Will you go …

I will range the mountains wild
And the deep glen so dreary
And return with my spoils
To the bower o’ my dearie. Will you go …

If my true love she won’t go,
I will surely find another,
To pull wild mountain thyme,
All around the blooming heather. Will you go …

A good, straightforward version of this song by the Corries: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hKvB3g3HEPQ


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Wild Rover
Traditional, Ireland

I’ve been a wild rover for many’s the year
And I’ve spent all me money on whiskey and beer
But now I’m returning with gold in great store
And I never will play the wild rover no more

And it’s no, nay, never
No, nay, never no more
Will I play the wild rover
No, never no more

I went into an alehouse I used to frequent
And I told the landlady me money was spent
I asked her for credit, she answered me “Nay,
Such a custom as yours I can have any day” And it’s no, …

I took from me pocket ten sovereigns bright
And the landlady’s eyes opened wide with delight
She says “I have whiskeys and wines of the best
And the words that I told you were only in jest.” And it’s no, …

I’ll go home to my parents, confess what I’ve done
And ask them to pardon their prodigal son
And when they’ve caressed me as ofttimes before
I never will play the wild rover no more, And it’s no, …

This is one of the most popular Irish pub songs, and here it is done by one of the most popular groups of that kind, The Dubliners: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9iRRvjjHDkw


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Will the Circle Be Unbroken
Traditional, U.S.

I was standing by my window,
On a cold and cloudy day
When I saw the hearse come rolling
For to carry my mother away

Will the circle be unbroken
By and by, lord, by and by
There’s a better home a-waiting
In the sky, lord, in the sky

I told that undertaker
“Undertaker, please drive slow
For this lady you are hauling
Lord, I hate to see here go.” Will the circle …

Oh, I followed close behind her
Tried to hold up and be brave
But I could not hide my sorrow
When they laid her in the grave, Will the circle …

I went back home, my home was lonesome
Missed my mother, she was gone
All of my brothers, sisters crying
What a home so sad and lone, Will the circle …

One by one their seats were emptied.
One by one they went away.
Now the family, it is parted.
Will it be complete one day? Will the circle …

Everyone does this song, with several variations in the lyrics. These lyrics are compiled from a few versions, so they don’t totally match the recording, which is a lovely take by the Staple Singers: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lwa1MQsqHwM


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The Work of the Weavers
David Shaw

We’re all met together here to sit and to craic
With our glasses in our hands and our work upon our back.
But there’s nae trade among them all can mend or can mak
If it wasna for the work o’ the weavers.

If it wasna for the weavers, what would you do?
You wouldna hae cloth that’s made o’ wool.
Ye wouldna hae a coat o’ the black nor blue
If it wasna for the work o’ the weavers.

Now there’s folk that have nae need of other tradesmen’s work
The women need nae barber, the dykers need nae clerk.
But nane o’ them can do without a coat or a sark,
Nae, they canna lack the work o’ the weavers.
If it wasna for the weavers…

Now there’s sodgers and there’s sailors, and hiremen and a’.
There’s doctors and there’s ministers and them that live by law,
And our friends in South America, though them we never saw
But we ken they wear the work o’ the weavers.
If it wasna for the weavers…

Now the weaving is a trade that never can fail
Sae long as we need cloth for to keep a body hale.
So let us all be merry owre a bicker o’ good ale,
And we’ll drink tae the work o’ the weavers.
If it wasna for the weavers…

This version is the one I first heard as a child on a record owned by my parents. It is the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VwwWKIXVlGQ

And here is my version recorded at the Log Drive Café: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pF4d5M8Ko6g


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