Melody - Michael Watson

Samuel K. Cowan

Flying, with flowing sail,
Over the summer sea!
Sheer thro' the seething gale,
Homeward bound was she!
Flying with feath'ry prow,
Bounding with slanting keel
And glad was the sailor lad,
As he steer'd and sang at his wheel.

'Only another day to stray,
Only another night to roam,
Then safe at last, the harbour past,
Safe in my Father's home!"
  Bright on the flashing brine,
Glitter'd the summer sun!
Sweetly the starry shine
Smil'd when the day was done!
Blithe was the breeze of heav'n,
Filling the flying sail,
And glad was the sailor lad
As he steer'd and sang thro' the gale.

Sudden the lightnings flash'd,
Like falchions in the dark!
Sudden the thunders crash'd!
Alas! for the gallant bark!
There when the storm had pass'd,
A dreary wreck lay she!
But bright was the starry light,
That shone on the summer sea!

And a soft smile came from the stars,
And a voice from the whisp'ring foam.
Safe, safe at last, the danger past,
Safe in his Father's Home!

When the temperance movement was at its height, it was often seafaring themes that were used as parables in song. The particular brand of muscular Christianity that characterised the Victorian ethic found its most natural expression in the nautical ballad in which the sea was taken as an image of life. Heaven was the safe harbour and between birth and death the young sailor on the sea of life was buffeted by storms and often almost wrecked. Michael Watson was a ballad composer with a particularly fine line in sea songs. 'Anchored', though, was his most successful. 'The Times' reported in amazement that it had realised 1212.15.00 - 'the largest price, we believe, that has ever been given for a song'. It certainly repays a bravura performance with its stirring chorus and final safe arrival in the straits of Paradise.

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