The Lass That Loves a Sailor

Melody - Charles Dibdin

Charles Dibdin

The moon on the ocean was dimm'd by a ripple,
Affording a chequer'd delight;
The gay jolly tars pass'd the word for the tipple,
And the toast, for 'twas Saturday night.
Some sweetheart or wife, he lov'd as his life,
Each drank and wish'd he could hail her;
But the standing toast, that pleased the most,
Was "The wind that blows, the ship that goes,
And the lass that loves a sailor."

Some drank "The Queen" and some "Her brave ships",
And some "The Constitution";
Some "May our foes and all such rips
Yield to English resolution";
The fate that might bless some Poll or Bess,
And that they soon might hail her;
But the standing toast, that pleased the most,
Was "The wind that blows, the ship that goes,
And the lass that loves a sailor."

Some drank "The Prince" and some "Our Land",
This glorious land of freedom;
Some "That our tars may never want
Heroes brave to lead them";
"That she who's in distress may find
Such friends as ne'er may fail her";
But the standing toast, that pleased the most,
Was "The wind that blows, the ship that goes,
And the lass that loves a sailor."


Charles Dibdin's last theatrical venture was a piece put on at the Haymarket in 1811 called The Round Robin. It was, sadly, a disastrous failure despite the fact that it contained one of his best songs - 'The Lass that Loves a Sailor'. It is typical of the composer that he managed to compose such a melodious and lighthearted song when he himself was in bad health and ruinous financial difficulties.
Life was never easy for this giant ot the sea song. Charles Dibdin was born in 1745, the twelfth of fourteen children. His father was a silversmith and his mother, the daughter of a West Country parson. Educated at Winchester where he learned the rudiments of organ playing and harmony, he travelled to London when stiII in his teens and with the help of his elder brother Tom (see 'Tom Bowling'), became apprenticed to a music shop proprietor in Cheapside. Seeing no future in it, however, Dibdin soon devoted his life to itinerant music-making and the composition of songs. Many of these were first heard at his own 'Table Entertainments' evenings of songs and recitations he gave himself, which were characterised by his informal and unstagey approach. Dibdin was also very much involved in the theatre and wrote over 200 plays with music. It is, though, as a composer of sea songs that he will be best remembered. The British Government granted him a pension of 200 a year in recognition of his services, through song, to the navy. He died in 1814
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