The Song of a Sailor Lad

There are more Union flags than you can shake a stick at just now, Mr Blackadder. And they reminded me of a jolly patriotic Greenwich song that we should all be singing today, of all days, stirring our blood and saving our souls.

I don’t know whether The Song of a Sailor Lad was the official school song of Greenwich’s Royal Naval School but the first verse shows it had aspirations to be. When the sheet was given to me, I was told it was from around World War 1 era, but it refers to the little sailor boy’s ‘queen’ which makes me think it’s more likely to be pre-1901 (no gags, now, okay…)

The lyrics, which are remarkable in their piety, patriotism and, frankly, optimism (“I have promised to abstain from strong drink, and will remain now a sober British sailor all my life”) were written by Henry Fuller Morriss, ‘of St Winifreds, London,’ who, according to a rather cryptic geocahching site, was a scrap merchant turned Mayor of Bermondsey (he’s mentioned in the geocache as having founded Woldingham Garden Village which was variously home to the Public Schools Battalion of the Middlesex Regiment and a convalescent home, which had entertainment, doubtless of the solid variety we have here.) He was quite a prolific writer, mostly about the Great War.

The tune is older, a Music Hall song, that he’s borrowed. There’s a sheet copy of it here if anyone fancies dressing up as a sailor boy and recording it for me (go on – you know you want to…) but for now, here’s Harry Champion singing Work, Boys, Work…for you.

All together now…


the attachments to this post:

Song of a Sailor Lad low
Song of a Sailor Lad low

3 Comments to “The Song of a Sailor Lad”

  1. cerletone says:

    Not exactly Lennon and McCartney is it?

    The verse with: I should like to get my name…painted on the old school wall…I should like to add to it another line. is really awkward.

  2. No, but then this was an ex-totter turned good. TBH I posted it because it’s (probably unintentionally) funny, but in its own way it IS patriotic and I couldn’t think of anything better for St George’s Day…

  3. Joe R says:

    This is better known as the tune to
    “Jesus loves the little children
    All the little children of the world”