A Shanty for Singing

Words and music: Tom Lewis

On a ship under sail, in a breeze or a gale,
There was hard work for sailors to do.
(So) They shouted and bawled as they heaved and they hauled,
Sometimes only six hands in the crew.
(For) The sailors had songs, just to help work along,
At capstan and windlass and line,
Whether hoisting the main-yard or hauling a halyard.
The shanty-man kept them in time.
Chorus:
(but) This is a shanty for singing,
Add your voice, get the rafters a-ringing.
You all know what to do, harmonise with your crew,
This is a shanty for singing.

There are hymns in the kirk, there are shanties for work,
There are songs for each rhyme and each reason,
There are love songs entrancing and pop songs for dancing
And carols when they are in season.
With the sun on your neck, or green water on deck
There was always a job to be done
But here in the pub, with fine ale and good grub
The singing is part of the fun.
Chorus:
(so) This is a shanty for singing,
Add your voice, get the rafters a-ringing.
You all know what to do, harmonise with your crew,
This is a shanty for singing.

Sing a shanty for pumps when you’re down in the dumps,
‘Short-drag’ when you’ve not got much time.
A ‘stamp-and-go’ serves if you’re just a bit nervous
A ‘forebitter’ doesn’t need to rhyme … (or scan.)
When the room starts to sway, or you’re drifting away,
You surely have too much drink taken.
If the girl of your fancy says her name is Nancy
She’ll probably leave you forsaken.
Chorus:
(now) This is a shanty for singing,
Add your voice, get the rafters a-ringing.
You all know what to do, harmonise with your crew,
This is a shanty for singing.

There’s no man and no maid who should ‘ere be afraid,
Of singing at toil or at leisure
For at work or at play, every sailor will say
That singing is always a pleasure.
At the bar of a capstan or bar of a pub
Raise your voice let the melody fly.
Every girl every boy, don’t be shy, don’t be coy
Whenever the chorus comes by …
Chorus:
(for) This is a shanty for singing,
Add your voice, get the rafters a-ringing.
You all know what to do, harmonise with your crew,
This is a shanty for singing.

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