The Bay of Biscay
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Lesley Nelson-Burns


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There are two different tunes named The Bay of Biscay, though interestingly, both concern shipwrecks. This, the better known version, was written by Irishman Andrew Cherry (1762-1812).

The other "Bay of Biscay" tune is also known as Ye Gentlemen of England and concerns a ship caught in a storm in the Bay of Biscay. Though the ship was heavily damaged, it made its way to Gibraltar.

The Bay of Biscay is an inlet of the Atlantic Ocean in southeastern Europe, bounded by France and Spain. The coastline varies from rocky cliffs to sandy beaches. Winds and currents make navigation difficult.

Loud roars the dreadful thunder,
The rain a deluge show'rs;
The clouds are rent asunder
By lightning's vivid pow'rs;
The night was drear and dark;
Our poor devoted bark
Till next day, there she lay,
In the Bay of Biscay, O!

Now dash'd upon the billow
Her op'ning timbers creak;
Each fears a wat'ry pillow,
None stop the dreadful leak:
To cling to slipp'ry shrouds
Each breathless seaman crowds,
As she lay, till next day,
In the Bay of Biscay, O!

At length the wished for tomorrow
Breaks thro' the hazy sky;
Absorb'd in silent sorrow,
Each heaves a bitter sigh:
The dismal wreck to view
Strikes horror to the crew,
As she lay, on that day,
In the Bay of Biscay, O!

Her yielding timbers sever,
Her pitchy seams are rent;
When heav'n, all bounteous ever,
Its boundless mercy sent:
A sail in sight appears,
We hail her with three cheer!
Now we sail, with the gale,
From the Bay of Biscay, O!
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