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> June Tabor > Songs > Our Captain Cried All Hands / Fountains Flowing

Our Captain Cried All Hands / Fountains Flowing

[ Roud 602 ; Ballad Index Pea416 ; trad.]

George ‘Pop’ Maynard was recorded singing Our Captain Calls All Hands by Marvyn Plunkett in The Cherry Tree, Copthorne, Sussex, in September 1956. This track was included in 1998 on the Topic anthology Come Let Us Buy the Licence (The Voice of the People Volume 1).

Martin Carthy sang this song as Our Captain Cried All Hands on his and Dave Swarbrick's 1967 album Byker Hill, this track was included in the 4LP folk anthology Electric Muse: The Story of Folk into Rock and its 3CD successor, New Electric Muse: The Story of Folk into Rock, and in 2003 on the Dave Swarbrick anthology Swarb! Martin Carthy commented in the original album's sleeve notes:

The tune of Our Captain Cried All Hands was noted down by Vaughan Williams and slightly adapted to John Bunyan's famous hymn He Who Would Valiant Be. James Reeves, in his notes on the song in the Everlasting Circle, suggests that the song may at one time have been converted for religious use (in much the same way that the Salvation Army converted Oh, No John to Oh, Yes Lord) which would possibly explain the rather confusing last verse which suggests a voyage into Eternity rather than a simple naval expedition. Lucy Broadwood has cited a broadside entitled The Welcome Sailor as a possible literary origin of the song.

The Electric Muse sleeve notes added:

This tune is also known as The Blacksmith (a song recorded by both the first two versions of Steeleye Span and Planxty) and to hymn-singers as Monksgate, from the fact that Vaughan Williams collected it with these words from a Mrs Verrall in Monksgate, near Horsham in Sussex, and set John Bunyan's words from Pilgrims Progress to an adaption of the same melody. This early example of Carthy/Swarbrick, using a rather start fiddle as sole accompanying instrument, is a brilliant tour de force.

Shirley Collins' sang Our Captain Cried All Hands as part of her and her sister Dolly's Song Story which was one half of both their albums Anthems in Eden (1969) and Amaranth (1976).

John Wright (uncle of Lucy Wright of Pilgrims' Way) sang Our Captain Cried All Hands in 1978 on his Topic LP Unaccompanied. He noted:

A bit of a concoction: the tune is from the Folk Song Journal (no 3, p 131) collected by W.P. Merrick from Mr Henry Mills at Lodsworth, Sussex in October 1900 and the seemingly irregular rhythm works out at 13/8. The words are mostly from a version collected from Mrs Overd, Langport. The text is sometimes joined on to that of The Blacksmith. Whether it is really a separate song I do not know.

June Tabor sang Our Captain Cried All Hands unaccompanied and with somewhat different verses in 1988 on Andrew Cronshaw's LP Till the Beasts' Returning. She returned to this song in 2011 when she sang it with the Oysterband under the title Fountains Flowing on their CD Ragged Kingdom. They performed it live on February 8, 2012 at the BBC Folk Awards 2012 celebration:

Steeleye Span used the second half of the first verse as chorus for their song Fighting for Strangers.

Chris Wood sang Our Captain Calls in 2005 on his CD The Lark Descending. He added in his liner notes:

Thanks to Topic Records for putting out The Voice of the People and thanks to Norma Waterson for pointing me towards track 5 Volume 1. The field recording is of Pop Maynard singing at the Cherry Tree, Copthorne, Sussex in 1956. I have included this song because I think it is a masterpiece and because so much of England's story is tied up in the single line “…how can you go abroad fighting for strangers?”

The Witches of Elswick sang Our Captain Calls in 2005 on their second and last album, Hell's Belles. They commented in their liner notes:

This is a bit of a weepy song that highlights the sadness of men being forced to fight for their country. Gillian learnt it from Chris Wood who heard it on The Voice of the People Volume 1 sung by George (Pop) Maynard in Sussex in 1956. Not only was Pop a champion singer, he was a champion marbles player too!

Emily Portman of The Furrow Collective sang Our Captain Calls on their 2014 album At Our Next Meeting, with her first verse sung in parallel to Lucy Farrell's first two verses of Handsome Molly. Emily Portman commented in their sleeve notes:

Martin Carthy introduced me to George ‘Pop’ Maynard's singing when I was 17. It was the first time I'd heard anything quite like it: an old man with a crackling voice, banging his stick to keep time and gripping me with his storytelling. It was the first song I performed unaccompanied and it brought about a sea-change in my whole approach to singing.

Lyrics

Pop Maynard sings Our Captain Calls All Hands

Our captain calls all hands tomorrow
To leave my true-love behind in grief and sorrow.
“Dry up those briny tears and leave off weeping.
How happy we shall be, love, at our next meeting.”

“How can you go abroad fighting for strangers?
Why don't you stay at home free from all danger?
I will roll you in my arms, my own dearest jewel,
So stay at home with me, love, and don't be cruel.”

“When I had gold in store, you used to invite me,
But now I'm low and poor you seems to slight me.
You courted me a while just for to deceive me,
Now my poor heart you won you're a-going to leave me.”

“Here's adieu to all my friends, both father and mother,
Grieve not for me at all for you have no other.
Grieve not, grieve not for me for I am a-going
Into everlasting joy where fountains flowing.”

Martin Carthy sings Our Captain Cried All Hands

Our captain cried all hands and away tomorrow,
Leaving these girls behind in grief and sorrow.
What makes you go abroad, fighting for strangers
When you could stop at home, free from all dangers?

“You courted me a while just to deceive me,
Now my heart you have gained and you means to leave me.”
Saying, “There's no belief in men, not my own brother
So girls if you can love, love one another.”

“When I had gold in store oh you did invite me
And now I'm low and poor you seems to slight me.”
“Dry off your brandy tears and leave off weeping,
For happy we shall be at our next meeting.”

“Oh I'll roll you in my arms, me dearest jewel,
So stay at home with me and don't be cruel.”
She fell down on the ground like one was dying;
This house was full of grief, sighing and crying.

“Farewell me dearest friends, father and mother,
I am your only child, and I have no brother.
It's in vain to weep for me for I am going
To where the lasting joy's with fountains flowing.”

Shirley Collins sings Our Captain Cried All Hands

Our captain cried all hands, away tomorrow,
Leaving us girls behind in grief and sorrow.
“What makes you go abroad, fighting for strangers
When you could stay at home, and free from dangers?”

“I'd roll you in my arms, my dearest jewel,
So stay at home with me and don't be cruel.”
She fell up on the floor like one that was dying;
This house was filled with grief, sighing and crying.

“You courted me a while just to deceive me,
Now that you've gained my heart you mean to leave me.
For there's no trust in men, not my own brother,
So girls if you would love, love one each other.”

“The drums are beating loud, the pipes are playing,
I must be on my way, no longer staying.
Dry off those brandy tears and leave off weeping
And happy we shall be at our next meeting.”

June Tabor sings Our Captain Cried All Hands

Our captain cried all hands and away tomorrow,
Leaving us poor girls behind in grief and sorrow.
“What makes you go abroad, fighting for strangers
When you could stay at home, free from all dangers?”

“I'd roll you in my arms, my dearest jewel,
So stay at home with me and don't be cruel.”
She fell down on the floor like one that was dying;
This house was filled with grief, crying and sighing.

“You courted me a while just to deceive me,
But now my heart you've won, oh, you mean to leave me.”
“Dry off your briny tears and cease your weeping,
It's happy we shall be at our next meeting.”

“When I had gold in store you did invite me,
But now I'm low and poor, oh, you mean to slight me.
I'll put no trust in men, not in my own brother,
It's maids, if you would love, love one each other.”

The Witches of Elswick sing Our Captain Calls All Hands

Our captain calls all hands tomorrow
To leave my true-love behind in grief and sorrow.
“Dry up those briny tears and leave off weeping.
How happy we shall be, love, at our next meeting.”

“Why must you go away fighting for strangers?
Why can't you stay at home free from all dangers?
I'd roll you in my arms, my dearest jewel,
So stay at home with me, love, and don't be cruel.”

“When I had gold in store, you used to invite me,
But now I'm low and poor you seem to slight me.
You courted me a while all for to deceive me,
Now my poor heart you've won you're going to leave me.”

“Here's adieu to all my friends, both father and mother,
Grieve not for me at all for you have no other.
Grieve not, grieve not for me for I am now going
Into everlasting life, love, where fountains are flowing.”

Acknowledgements and Links

Martin Carthy's version was transcribed by Garry Gillard, Shirley Collins' and June Tabor's version by Reinhard Zierke.

See also the Digital Tradition study thread Captain Calls All Hands / Bold Privateer at the Mudcat Café.