Mudcat Café message #3375578 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #145880   Message #3375578
Posted By: Gibb Sahib
13-Jul-12 - 01:59 AM
Thread Name: Origins: The Priest and the Nuns
Subject: Origins: The Priest and the Nuns
I'd like to know more about the supposed sea song (maybe chanty) called "The Priest and the Nuns." Are there any obvious antecedents or other sources besides Harlow?

By way of background, I'll just cut and paste this blurb from a YouTube rendition I recently posted:

This comes from Harlow's collection of chanteys and sea songs. I do not know where Harlow got iy from, however. Sure, he may have learned it orally, but the composition of the section of his book in which it appears suggests he imported it from elsewhere. And yet he does state that he doubts it had ever previously been in print. This could be an anomaly in the section -- a song Harlow really did learn in tradition and which really was used as a chanty, as he says, for pumping out ship.

The only other performance of this I have heard (realizing this only after I recorded it) is Salty Dick's. As I understand it, Salty Dick also revived it from Harlow's text, and had not heard any other renditions. He renders it as a forebitter, with a somewhat changed melody and in more of a fast boom-chick rhythm.

Despite my not having any other historical info, I'll note that the chorus reminds me of some of the Scandinavian chanties I've learned. Perhaps the song here is an English adaptation of something Germanic -- with the Austrian priest as a clue.