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Newfoundland Music

Newfoundland Music had its origins in England, Ireland and Scotland and was brought here by our first settlers. Music has played an important part in the life of Newfoundland and Labrador. It is from the experience of a race who made its living from the sea that much of the music is derived.

Newfoundland music includes songs about love affairs, humorous events, and even lullabys. Much history has been written in the form of a song, songs of hard times in the fisheries, political animosities, sea shanties, odes and ballads.

Newfoundland Music is also celebrated at many festivals featured throughout the province. Among the most popular are the Kiwanis Music Festival, and the St John's Folk Festival held every summer in Bannerman Park.

Folk songs are the most well known component of Newfoundland Music. One of the most popular books containing Newfoundland songs was published by Gerald S. Doyle. Among the most popular folk songs are Tickle Cove Pond, Ryans and the Pittmans, Let Me Fish Off Cape St. Mary's, Star of Logy Bay, Feller From Fortune, Squid-jiggin' Ground and I'se the B'y.

One of the most popular and well know songs in Newfoundland Music is the "Ode to Newfoundland" written by Sir Cavendish Boyle.
    When sun-rays crown thy pine-clad hills,
    And summer spreads her hand,
    When silvern voices tune thy rills,
    We love thee, smiling land,
    We love thee, we love thee,
    We love thee, smiling land.

    When spreads thy cloak of shimm'ring white,
    At winter's stern command,
    Thro' shortened day and star-lit night,
    We love thee, frozen land,
    We love thee, we love thee,
    We love thee, frozen land.

    When blinding storm gusts fret thy shore,
    And wild waves lash thy strand,
    Thro' sprindrift swirl and tempest roar,
    We love thee, wind-swept land,
    We love thee, we love thee
    We love thee, wind-swept land.

    As loved our fathers, so we love,
    Where once they stood we stand,
    Their prayer we raise to heaven above,
    God guard thee, Newfoundland,
    God guard thee, God guard thee,
    God guard thee, Newfoundland
The Kelligrew's Soiree
This song was written by John Burke, and is probably one of the most famous compostions in Newfoundland Music.
    You may talk of Clara Nolan's Ball or anything you choose,
    But it couldn't hold a snuffbox to the spree at Kelligrews.
    If you want your eyeballs straightened just come out next week with me,
    You'll have to wear your glasses at the Kelligrews Soiree.

    There was birch rind, tar twine, cherry wine and turpentine,
    Jowls and cavalances, ginger beer and tea.
    Pig's feet, cat's meat, dumplings boiled up in a sheet,
    Dandelion and crackie's teeth at the Kelligrews Soiree.

    Oh, I borrowed Cluney's beaver as I squared my yards to sail,
    And a swallow tail from Hogan that was foxy on the tail.
    Billy Cuddahie's old working pants and Patsy Nolan's shoes,
    And an old white vest from Fogarty to sport at Kelligrews.

    There was Dan Milley, Joe Lilly, Tantan and Mrs. Tilley,
    Dancing like a little filly, 'twould raise your heart to see.
    Jim Brine, Din Ryan, Flipper Smith and Caroline.
    I tell you, boys, we had a time at the Kelligrews Soiree.

    Oh, when I arrived at Betsy Snook's that night at half past eight,
    The place was blocked with carriages stood waiting at the gate.
    With Cluney's funnel upon my pate, the first words Betsy said,
    "Here comes the local Preacher with the pulpit on his head".

    There was Bill Mews, Dan Hughes, Wilson, Taft and Teddy Roose,
    While Bryant he sat in the blues and looking hard at me.
    Jim Fling, Tom King, Johnson, champion of the ring,
    And all the boxers I could bring to the Kelligrews Soiree.

    "The Saratoga Lancers first," Miss Betsy kindly said.
    I danced with Nancy Cronin and her Granny on the Head.
    And Hogan danced with Betsy well you should have seen his shoes,
    As he lashed the muskets from the rack that night at Kelligrews.

    There was boiled guineas, cold guineas, bullock's heads and piccaninnies.
    Everything to catch the pennies you'd break your sides to see.
    Boiled duff, cold duff, apple jam was in a cuff.
    I tell you boys we had enough at the Kelligrews Soiree.

    Crooked Flavin struck the fiddler and a hand I then took in.
    You should see George Cluney's beaver and it flattened to the rim,
    And Hogan's coat was like a vest, the tails were gone you see.
    Says I, "The Devil haul ye and your Kelligrews Soiree".

    There was birch rind, tar twine, cherry wine and turpentine,
    Jowls and cavalances, ginger beer and tea.
    Pig's feet, cat's meat, dumplings boiled up in a sheet,
    Dandelion and crackie's teeth at the Kelligrews Soiree.


Modern Newfoundland Music

Old-Time Songs and Poetry of Newfoundland
Published by Gerald S. Doyle Limited

Learn How to Play the Accordion the Easy Way

Back to Newfoundland
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