Eight Bells
Download Midi File
Lesley Nelson-Burns


Information
Lyrics
On board ship eight bells signified the end of one watch and the beginning of another. Watches were four hours long. Time was kept with a half-hour glass. When the glass was turned, the bell was rung. At eight bells the watch changed.

This song appears in the third edition of a collection of songs by Davis and Tozer (circa 1870).

My husband's a saucy foretop man,
A chum of the cooks, don't you know?
He put his head down the cook's funnel,
And shouted, "come up from below."
Eight bells, Eight bells,
Rouse out there the watch from below;
Eight bells, eight bells,
Rouse out there the watch from below.


My husband once shipped in a whaler,
And sailed to the far Northern Seas;
But being a bold-hearted sailor,
He cared not for ice, sea, nor breeze.
Eight bells, Eight bells,
Rouse out there the watch from below;
Eight bells, eight bells,
Rouse out there the watch from below.


At the end of each watch though his fancy
Was to get to his bunk quickly, oh!
For he wanted to dream of his Nancy,
So called to the watch, "hi below!"
Eight bells, Eight bells,
Rouse out there the watch from below;
Eight bells, eight bells,
Rouse out there the watch from below.


But now he's no longer a sailor
He often wakes up in the night
And thinking he's still on the whaler
Calls out with the greatest delight-
Eight bells, Eight bells,
Rouse out there the watch from below;
Eight bells, eight bells,
Rouse out there the watch from below.


Related Links
From Fifty Sailor's Songs or Chanties
See Bibliography for full information.