Blow The Wind Southerly

Blow the Wind Southerly card, design from Natalie Reid

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An old melody of the Border (Northumbrian Folk Song) “Blow The Wind Southerly” with a text printed in 1834 in the collection “The Bishoprick Garland” compiled by Sir Cuthbert Sharpe, made famous by Kathleen Ferrier (who recorded it in 1949); Robert Cummings writes  “The text to Blow the Wind Southerly was first published in England in an 1834 collection of songs, ballads, and various other writings called The Bishoprick Garland and was edited by J. Ritson. Actually, only a small part of that poem was used for this traditional song. The melody probably predates the early nineteenth century origins of the text. The authors of both the words and music are anonymous, but the song can be traced to Northumbrian County in northern England. The leisurely paced melody is lovely in its sentimental charm and carefree, folk-ish manner. It has a U-shaped contour, and, oddly, its closing phrase bears a striking resemblance to the last notes in the famous melody to “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.” The two themes are otherwise of a different emotional cast, Blow the Wind Southerly is hardly jovial in its sense of longing, but it is gentle and light in its melancholy. The text speaks of a young woman beseeching the wind to blow southerly to bring her lover’s ship to shore. This delightful song will appeal to most listeners with an interest in traditional song.” (from here)

A romantic but sad melody that is often performed in lyric singing with orchestral or chamber ensembles: although the fragmented version is not explicit, we know that it is a lament, the man died at sea and the singing woman returns obsessively to scrutinize the sea in the vain hope of his return.

Andreas Scholl & Orpheus Chamber Orchestra from Wayfaring Stranger – Folksongs 2001

Lisa Hannigan live, 

Blow the wind southerly,
southerly, southerly,
Blow the wind south
o’er the bonny blue sea;
Blow the wind southerly,
southerly, southerly,
Blow bonnie breeze, my lover to me.
They told me last night
there were ships in the offing,
And I hurried down
to the deep rolling sea;
But my eye could not see
it wherever might be it,
The barque (1) that is bearing
my lover to me.
I stood by the lighthouse
the last time we parted,
Till darkness came down
o’er the deep rolling sea,
And no longer I saw
the bright bark of my lover.
Blow, bonny breeze
and bring him to me.
Oh, is it not sweet to hear
the breeze singing,
As lightly it comes
o’er the deep rolling sea?
But sweeter and dearer by far
when ‘tis bringing,
The barque of my true love
in safety to me.

1) barque generally means boat (bark) and specifically indicates a brig 



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