The Sailor's Bride

from by Norah Rendell

  • Compact Disc (CD) + Digital Album

    Comes with 16-page booklet including lyrics, liner notes written by Brian Miller, photos by Natalie Champa-Jennings and images of yarn from Suzy Brown, woolwench. Designed by Colleen Cody.

    Includes unlimited streaming of Spinning Yarns via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more.
    ships out within 3 days

      $15 USD or more 



O.J. Abbott came to Canada from England as a 12-year-old orphan and was taken in by an Irish-Canadian family, the Whalens, in South March, Ontario (near Ottawa). He learned many songs from Mrs. Whalen and, later, from a Mrs. O’Malley whose family also took him in for a time. He went on to sing and swap songs in Ottawa Valley logging camps.

Abbott contributed 120 songs to Edith Fowke’s collection and achieved some notoriety as a link to past traditions. He sang “The Sailor’s Bride” during one of Fowke’s several visits to his home in April 1960. Two months later, at the age of 88, his performance onstage at the Newport Folk Festival with Pete Seeger was broadcast on CBC television.

We found another version of this song in a late 19th century songster published by Wehman of New York and added a verse from that to the version Abbott sang.


The sun was setting in the west,
All nature had retired to rest,
A sailor and his lovely bride,
Stood weeping by the waterside.

It’s scarce six months since we were wed,
Alas how swift those moments fled,
Now we must part by the dawn of day,
And the proud ship bears my love away.

The storm came on before its time,
The snow fell hissing in the brine,
The sailor lad, so brave and true,
Was carried away in the waters blue.

’Tis Autumn now and I’m alone,
Flowers have bloomed, the birds have flown,
All is sad, but none as I,
My sailor lad no more is nigh.

Willie, I wish I was with you,
Beneath the waves of the ocean blue,
My soul to God, my body in the sea,
And the dark blue waves rolling over me.

Oh, would that I were buried too,
Beneath the waves of the ocean blue,
My soul to God, my body in the sea,
And the mermaids weeping over me.


from Spinning Yarns, released March 17, 2015
Brian Miller on guitar, Randy Gosa on mandola, Ailie Robertson on harp, Norah Rendell on vocals and whistle



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Norah Rendell Saint Paul, Minnesota

Originally from Vancouver, British Columbia, Norah Rendell is a consummate musician that specializes in the traditional folk songs and dance music of Ireland and Canada. Norah was named "Best Vocalist of the Year" by the Live Ireland Awards in 2011 and 2012 and was nominated for "Best Traditional Singer of the Year" by the Canadian Folk Music Awards in 2009. ... more

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