Sir Patrick Spens

I learned Nic Jones' version of Sir Patrick Spens quite a few years ago when I was asked to sing some ballad examples in an English class at Union College. It lay dormant for a while, but I gradually started wondering if I could work out a concertina arrangement for it.

Now the king sits in Dunfermline town
A-drinking the blood red wine
And where can I get me a good mariner
To sail seven ships of mine
Up then spoke an old, old man
A-sitting at the king's right knee
He says Sir Patrick Spens is the best mariner
That ever sailed on the sea.

So the king he has written a broad letter
And signed it with his hand
And he's sent it to Sir Patrick Spens
A walking all on the strand
And the very first line that Patrick he read
A little laugh then gave he
But the very next line that Patrick he read
The salt tears blinded his eye.

Oh who is him that's done this deed
And told the king on me
For never was I a good mariner
And never do intend to be
Late yestreen I saw the new moon
The old moon in her arms
And I fear, I fear a deadly storm
Our little ship'll come to harm.

But rise up rise up my merry men all
Our little ship she sails with the dawn
Whether it's windy or whether it's wet
Or whether there's a deadly storm
And they had not sailed a league, a league
A league but barely nine
When the wind and the wet and the sleet and snow
Come a blowing up behind.

Oh where can I get me a little cabin boy
To take the helm in hand
While I climb up to the top of the mast
To see if I can't spy land
Come down, come down Sir Patrick Spens
We fear that we all must die
For in and out of the good ship's hull
The wind and the ocean fly.

And the very first step that Patrick he took
The water came up to his knee
And the very next step that Patrick he took
They drownded they were in the sea
Many was the fine feather bed
A-floating on the foam
And many was the little lords sons
That never, never more came home.

Oh long, long may the ladies sit
With their fans all in their hands
Before they see Sir Patrick Spens
A-walking on the strand
It's fifty miles from Aberdeen shore
It's fifty fathoms deep
And there does lie Sir Patrick Spens
With the little lords at his feet.

© Golden Hind Music