I Saw Three Ships

BBC carol programme

Regular Intheboatshed.net correspondent Chris Brady has written in to point out that a BBC programme charting the history of carol singing included the story of popular Christmas song ‘I Saw Three Ships’. Thanks for the tip Chris!

I didn’t know that a version of the song was collected from boatmen on the Humber in 1895, and sent to the scholar Reverend Sabine Baring-Gould, who was a noted folklorist, as well as an antiquarian, a writer of hymns, and a prolific author on any number if topics.

Baring-Gould’s notes of the Humber boatman’s version can be seen at the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library website – it mentions that the ships are carrying the skulls of the three wise men who visited the baby Jesus shortly after his birth.

As a boy who grew up close to the banks of the Humber, I should set about learning the version in Baring-Gould’s notes. In the meantime, the more usual and innocent sounding setting Julie and I recorded a few Christmases back will have to do:

Merry Christmas and happy holidays to all our readers and contributors!

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I saw three ships, from Walter Crane’s beautifully illustrated book of 1900, Baby’s Opera

Merry Christmas and happy holidays everyone. Thanks to all of you – those who follow this weblog, and particularly to the kind souls who have contributed so generously to its content.

We hope you all enjoy the carefree end of year celebration you would wish for. And now, for your diversion, we have prepared a song for you, and a little squeezebox entertainment: