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Joe Offer Origins: I Saw Three Ships. (48) ADD Version: I Saw Three Ships. (Humber version) 03 Dec 20


Steve Woodbury sang this version today, and I really liked it.

https://www.cdss.org/song-of-month-category-blog/1756-march-2020

I SAW THREE SHIPS COME SAILING BY

I saw three ships come sailing by,?
I saw three ships come sailing by,?
By, by, by,
I saw three ships come sailing by.

I asked them what they'd got on board,
I asked them what they'd got on board,
Board, board, board,
I asked them what they'd got on board.

They said that they had got three crawns,
They said that they had got three crawns,
Crawns, crawns, crawns,
They said that they had got three crawns.

I asked them where they was taking them to,
I asked them where they was taking them to,
To, to, to,
I asked them where they was taking them to.

They said they was going to Koln upon Rhine,
They said they was going to Koln upon Rhine,
Koln, Koln upon Rhine,
They said they was going to Koln upon Rhine.

I asked them where they was bringing them from,
I asked them where they was bringing them from,
From, from, from,
I asked them where they was bringing them from.

They said they was coming from Bethlehem.
They said they was coming from Bethlehem.
Beth, Beth-e-le-hem.
They said they was coming from Bethlehem.

I saw three ships come sailing by,
I saw three ships come sailing by,
By, by, by,
I saw three ships come sailing by.
I saw three ships come sailing by.




I Saw Three Ships
introduced by Dave Para

Like John Roberts & Tony Barrand, Dave Para loves this "Crawn" version of the widespread carol I Saw Three Ships. It was collected in 1895 from a Humber estuary boatman on the east coast of England, and ultimately published by Baring-Gould in his Garland of Country Songs in the same year.

It finally makes sense out of the puzzle of why three ships appear in the Christmas narrative at all. Legend has it that the skulls ("crawns" = "craniums" = "crowns"?) of the "Kings" or "Wise Men" were taken and lodged in the cathedral at Cologne.

Dave thinks of this more as a pilgrim carol than a Christmas song, so here it is in March.


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