The Lifeboat Crew

Melody - William Parkinson

John Hartley

Lost in the roar of the wild ocean's rage,
Are the cries of the timid and brave:
Fearless the crew of the lifeboat engage,
The tempest toss'd vessel to save.
Hark to the thunder that shakes heav'n's dome,
See how the fierce lightnings flash by;
With a cheer and a pray'r for the lov'd ones at home,
Go the heroes to do or to die.

Hail! to the lifeboat,
God bless the brave crew,
Who dare the tempestuous wave.
Strengthen and bless
The hearts daring and true,
Who risk all to succour and save.
  Dash'd like a leaf on the billows that roar,
Now lost in the wild dashing spray,
Trembling with fear stands the crowd on the shore,
Some weeping, some striving to pray.
Mothers and wives, mute with anguish stand by,
Yet proud of the dear ones so brave,
Straining their ears to catch sound of that cry,
Which at last faintly comes o'er the wave.

Loud ring the cheers as the lifeboat returns,
Forms dripping with foam and with rain;
Grateful and proud every bosom now burns,
They have conquer'd old ocean again.
Then who will forbear to lend helping hand,
To the life-saving boat and its crew,
Whose courage and pluck makes us proud of the land,
That boasts men so fearless and true.

Songs about lifeboats were popular parlour fare in the nineteenth century when singing about the terrors of the sea, behind cosy velvet curtains, helped to reinforce a feeling of security. John Hartley's words may not conjure up too vivid a picture, but they are very much in the spirit of jingoism frequently found in drawing-room sea songs. 'The Lifeboat Crew' is quite simply one of the best 'sings' in its class. A nip of rum improves the verse, but the chorus needs no bush!

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