Sula Lula / The Great Silkie of Sule Skerry / Boatman / Flint's Maggot

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Sula Lula
Traditional Norwegian Lullaby

The Great Silkie of Sule Skerry
From Orkney, Child Ballad no. 113. From the magical tradition of shapeshifting, the Silkie is a man upon the land, and a silkie (seal) in the sea. The stoay is part of an epic ballad, The Lady Odivere. Child didn’t include music in his publications, the Bronson edition with the tunes wasn't published until the 1960s, And the traditional Silkie tune wasn’t recorded until the 1930s. Despite its convincing feel, this tune was written by an American folkie, James Waters, in 1954, and passed into the tradition with help from Joan Baez. Legend has it, A Scottish student sang it unaccompanied in 1965, believing he had learned it from his grandfather.

Melody and Lyrics by Cathy Lesurf. There was space in ‘the sea suite’ for an unreservedly happy song and this is it. ‘Turn the glass and ring the bell’ refers to the hourglass and ship’s bell that marked the passing of time and the changing of the watch on board a navy vessel.

Flint's Maggot
Melody and lyrics Cathy Lesurf:. The Character of Ephraim Flint, veteran of the fighting Temeraire, has given rise to a series of stories as well as music. A maggot is the old word for what is sometimes referred to, after the german, as an ear worm. In other words, a tune that gets into your brain and wriggles around, refusing to go away.


Sula Lula
Sula Lula
Sula Lula Laya


An earthly nurse sits and sings
And as she sings by lily waves
Little ken I my bairn’s father
Nor yet the land that he lives in

For he came one night to my bedchamber
And a grumly guest I’m sure was he
Saying here am I, thy bairn’s father
Although I be not comely

For I am a man upon the land
I am a Silkie in the sea
And when I am far from any land
My home is on Sule Skerry

And it shall come to pass on a bright summer’s day
When the sun shines hot on every stone
I’ll come and I’ll fetch my little young son
And I’ll teach him how to swim the foam

Then he has taken a purse of gold,
And he has laid it on her knee,
Saying, "give to me, my little young son,
And take thee up the nurse’s fee.

And you will marry a gunner good
And a right fine gunner I’m sure he’ll be
And the very first shot that e’er he shoots
Will kill both my young son and me


Boatman, boatman, boatman
Won’t you row me o’er
Boatman, boatman, boatman,
To the far shore
Where my love waits for me
Her song I can hear
By the wide, rolling sea,
She’s my love, she’s my dear

The whole of life before us
The dawn is in her eye
And love will be our compass
Between the sea and sky
Turn the glass and ring the bell
For the long watch is done
And my heart belongs to her
Till the sands of time are run

Boatman, gentle boatman
Row me to the shore
The tide is rolling onwards
And I can wait no more
My ring she will wear
By the wide, circling sea
And I’ll hold her in my arms
The lass who waits for me.


Set the sail for the turning tide
Set the sail, we're homeward bound
There's an isle beyond the sun
Where my heart will find it's mooring
I've seen mountains of ice
Off Greenland's shore
And I have seen the Northern Lights
Here's an end to my sailing

See the sun rise beaten gold
See the sail glint silver
Hear the blue waves call me home
Where my heart will find it's mooring
I've seen the desert shore
of North Africa
And I have heard the mermaid's call
Here's an end to my sailing

Hear the wind in the rigging moan
Lamenting for her lover
There's a voice that calls to me
Where my heart will find safe mooring
I've heard the siren's call
Promising great fortune
But I will hear love's quiet song
Here's an end to my sailing

One last sounding in the deep
Where the lost lie sleeping
This is where my fears will rest
When my heart has found safe mooring
I've sailed the boundless sea
Empty horizons
But I won't be the ocean's slave
Here's adieu to my sailing


from Turn The Glass, released April 18, 2015
Cathy Lesurf: vocals. Isobel Kimberly backing vocals, harp. Gary Southwell: nylon 9 string guitar. Jim: Kimberly: steel string guitar, high strung guitar, backing vocals, singing bowl. David Wilson: piano. Neil Segrott: Bass Guitar



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Wolfscote Nottingham, UK

Tasting notes: An elegant distillation of traditional songs with complexity and depth: Notes of smoke and honey melting into top notes of breathtaking clarity.

Great voices, rich harmonies, powerful acoustic arrangements that find the heart of every song, from artists at the peak of their powers.

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