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…
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