Banks of Newfoundland


h1 February 1st, 2013

Written in 1820 by Chief Justice Francis Forbes, “Banks of Newfoundland” is one of the first published songs about this northeast region of Canada. It was once used as a dance tune and later as a march by the Royal Newfoundland Regiment. I heard it sung by Ewan McColl and A.L. Lloyd on their 1960 L.P. “Blow Boys Blow.”

An explanation of the fourth verse: To “reef” a sail is to furl and lash it to the yard or the long beam that supports the sail. The crew did this while standing on a single line which they would “mount” and sometimes “pass” another shipmate in the process.

Lyrics:
[Em] Me bully boys of Liverpool
I’d have you to [D] beware,
[Em] When you sail on them packet ships,
no dungaree [D] jumpers [Em] wear;
[G] But have a big monkey [C] jacket
[G] all ready to your [D] hand,
[Em] For there blows some cold nor’westers
on the [D] Banks of [Em] Newfoundland.

[G] We’ll scrape her and we’ll [C] scrub her
[G] with holy stone and [D] sand,
[Em] For there blows some cold nor’westers
on the [D] Banks of [Em] Newfoundland.

We had Jack Lynch from Ballynahinch,
Mike Murphy and some more,
I tell you lad, they suffered like mad
on the way to Baltimore;
They pawned their gear in Liverpool
and sailed as they did stand,
But there blows some cold nor’westers
on the Banks of Newfoundland.

We’ll scrape her and we’ll scrub her
with holy stone and sand,
And we’ll think of them cold nor’westers
on the Banks of Newfoundland.

Now the mate he stood on the fo’c'sle head
and loudly he did roar,
Now rattle her in ye lucky lads,
you’re bound for America’s shore;
Come wipe the blood off that dead man’s face
and haul or you’ll be canned,
For there blows some cold nor’westers
on the Banks of Newfoundland.

We’ll scrape her and we’ll scrub her
with holy stone and sand,
For there blows some cold nor’westers
on the Banks of Newfoundland.

So now it’s reef and reef, me boys
With the Canvas frozen hard
And it’s mount and pass every mother’s son
on a ninety foot topsail yard
never mind about boots and oilskins
but sail just as you stand
For there blows some cold nor’westers
on the Banks of Newfoundland.

We’ll scrape her and we’ll scrub her
with holy stone and sand,
And we’ll think of them cold nor’westers
on the Banks of Newfoundland.

So now we’re off the Hook, me boys,
the land is white as snow,
And soon we’ll see the pay table
and we’ll spend the night below;
And on the docks, come down in flocks,
them pretty girls will stand,
It’s snugger with me than on the sea,
on the Banks of Newfoundland.

We’ll scrape her and we’ll scrub her
with holy stone and sand,
And we’ll think of them cold nor’westers
on the Banks of Newfoundland.

We’ll scrape her and we’ll scrub her
with holy stone and sand,
And we’ll think of them cold nor’westers
on the Banks of Newfoundland.

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