Original poem
by C. Fox Smith

Printable version

MP3 Sample

Christmas Night

By Cicely Fox Smith from Rhymes of the Red Ensign,
edited by Cicely Fox Smith, published by Hodder and Stoughton, London, 1919, pp. 71-72.
Adapted for singing by Charlie Ipcar, 12/26/08
Tune inspired by Christmas Day in the Morning

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We shipped a sea on Christmas night,
On Christmas night, on Christmas night!
From stem to stern the decks flowed white
On Christmas night till the morning!
"One more like that," our mate did say,
"And she'll not last till the break of day,"
So deep she rolled, so ill she lay
All the night long till the morning!

So black the night, the gale it screamed,
On Christmas night, on Christmas night!
Like gushing wounds her swing-ports streamed;
On Christmas night till the morning!
All ice the yard was where we clung,
The frozen shrouds shrill carols sung,
Like harps the twanging backstays rung
All the night long till the morning!

We called "All hands!" We hove her to,
On Christmas night, on Christmas night!
And nothing then was left to do
On Christmas night till the morning!
But hang on all, and wait, and pray
For nothing else to carry away,
So she might last till the break of day
All the night long till the morning!

And one big roaring sailorman
A sort of rambling yarn began,
About a place nigh Wexford town,
With the river Slaney flowing down
By the farm where he was born an' rared;
"An' my old mother, well, she's not heard
A word o' me this many a year . . .
But I've got stuff and I've got gear
Stowed in my sea-chest all for her
I can just see them old eyes stare:
A lump o' coral like a tree
Them Blacks dive after in Fee-jee,
A Spanish shawl and a carved fan,
A little tea-set from far Japan,
That's blue and white, and wee and small,
If this black gale don't break 'em all!"

The long night passed and that great gale,
On Christmas night, on Christmas night!
Went down at dawn, so we made sail,
On Christmas Day in the morning!
We sent the yards to the masthead,
The watch sung out to wake the dead!
"Them tea-things is all right," Dan said
On Christmas Day in the morning!

Here's a fine painting titled "Rounding Cape Horn" by Montague Dawson to go along with the poem by Cicely Fox Smith

Christmas at Sea: Here's a fine painting titled
"Rounding Cape Horn" by Montague Dawson
to go along with the poem by Cicely Fox Smith.

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CHRISTMAS NIGHT

Original poem by Cicely Fox Smith,
RHYMES OF THE RED ENSIGN, edited by Cicely Fox Smith, published by Hodder and Stoughton, London, 1919, pp. 71-72

We shipped a sea on Christmas night-
On Christmas night, on Christmas night!-
From stem to stern the decks were white. . . .
'One more like that,' the mate did say,
And she'll not last till the break of day,'
So deep she rolled, so ill she lay,
All the night long till the morning.

It was black dark, and the gale screamed,
On Christmas night, on Christmas night. . .
Like gushing wounds her swing-ports streamed;
All ice the yard was where we clung,
The frozen shrouds shrill carols sung,
Like harps the twangling backstays rung
All the night long till the morning!

We called all hands, we hove her to,
On Christmas night, on Christmas night;
And nothing then was left to do
But hang on all, and wait, and pray
For nothing else to carry away,
So she might last till the break of day,
All the night long till the morning.

And one big roaring sailorman
A sort of rambling yarn began
About a place nigh Wexford town,
And the river Slaney flowing down
By the farm where he was born an' rared;
'And my old mother-she's not heard
A word o' me this many a year. ...
But I've got stuff and I've got gear
Stowed in my sea-chest all for her-
I think I see them old eyes stare-
A lump o' coral like a tree
Them nigs dive after in Feejee,
A Spanish shawl and a carved fan,
And a little tea-set from Japan
That's blue and white, and wee and small,
If this black gale don't break it all. . .'

But the night passed, and the great gale
Went down at dawn . . . and we made sail,
And sent the yards to the masthead,
The watch sung out to wake the dead. . . .
'Them tea-things is all right,' Dan said.

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