MacEdward Leach and the Songs of Atlantic Canada
Rolling Home
Performed by Morris Houlihan Accession # 78-054 NFLD 1 Tape 3A Track 6
Community: Flatrock Audio:
Genre: Newfoundland shanty  


Lay aloft, you hearty sailors,
See your braces are all clear,
Get your bunts and clew lines ready,
For Newfoundland we will steer.


Rolling Home to dear Newfoundland,
Sailing Home across the sea,
Sailing home to dear old Newfie,
Coming back, fair land to thee.

To Malacca's fair haired daughters
Unto ye we'll bid adieu;
But we won't forget the good times
That we had along with you.

Lay aloft you hearty sailors,
Now our topsails for to store;
We are now out in mid ocean
In a heavy storm and snow.

Around Cape Race on a winter's morning,
And her decks all ice and snow,
You can hear the sailors swearing
On the hardships they go through.

Now we're off the Narrows
The … got us in tow
Towing in to St. John's harbour
Where we'll meet our friend …

[tape cuts out]


Sources: Recorded by Morris Houlihan, Flatrock, Newfoundland, in 1950 for Folkways (FE 4075); Taft 18. Roud 4766

This song (without the last verse) appeared on MacEdward Leach's album Songs From the Out-Ports of Newfoundland (1966, Folkways FE 4075), as track A2. His notes are as follows:

This is a sea shanty. Traditionally, it was used as a forecastle song, but occasionally as a capstan song. Mr. Houlihan said it was the custom always to sing this song as a capstan song when the anchor was weighed preparatory to heading for home after a long voyage. All the nostalgia for home is certainly in the song. The version sung by Mr. Houlihan is very short; other versions work the vessel point by point from its distant port to the home port by naming all the important land-falls en route. "Rolling Home" was sung in English, American, German, and Dutch ships, the home port being changed to fit the situation…

Most versions name Australian girls being left behind: [F.P.] Harlow's text (Chanteying, Barre, 1962: p. 133) calls them Java maidens; here Mr. Houlihan insisted on Malacca's fair haired daughters.

History: While this seems to be a Newfoundland composition, similar songs recount the pleasures of returning home to other locales.

Text notes: The singer describes pleasures of returning home from Malacca.

Tune notes: A very slow, and sometimes rhythmically flexible, 3/2 metre of this performance is hard to relate to Leach's description of this song as a sea shanty. The phrase form is abcd.

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