Gilbert Hutchison with Grace Anderson.         [The Sailor’s Alphabet]          SA1971.271.1

Gilbert Hutchison  (Gibbie a’ Creads) was best known as a really fine  fiddle player; but here at a ceilidh in the Old Manse (the home of his friend Andrew Poleson) he felt like singing.  Here he is joined by Grace Anderson in a couple of verses of the song known elsewhere as The Sailor’s Alphabet.  This recording was made in late in the night and Gibbie’s memory failed him when he reached letter ‘I‘ and in any case those present felt like dancing which they did – to the expert strong playing of their host Andrew Poleson – with his fiddle of course.  We’ve added the verses they did not sing.    Roud index no. 21100.

A for the Anchor that hangs in our bow
And B for the bowsprit  – and the jibs all lie low.   [??]
Oh C for the capstan so stately and strong   
And D for the davits our boats do hang in.
       So merry, so merry, so merry are we
       There’s nothing so brave as a sailor at sea
       Hey derry, hey derry, hey derry down
       Give a sailor his grog and no thing will go wrong

Oh ‘s E for the ensign at our mizzen-peak
F for the foc’sl …                  “Willie, come on
                           in which we all sleep
G for the gantlip [???] so stout and so strong   [gantline?]
H for the halyards so neatly coiled down
      So merry, so merry, so merry are we
      There’s nothing so brave as a sailor at sea
      With a hey derry, how derry, hey derry down
      Give a sailor his grog and no thing will go wrong…….
– – –
Other verses –

I’s for the eyebolts, good for the feet
J’s for the jibs that stand by the lee sheet
K’s for the knighthead where the petty officer stand
L’s for the leeside, hard found by new hands

M’s for the mainmast, it’s stout and it’s strong
N’s for the needle that never points wrong
O’s for the oars of our old jolly boats
And P’s for the pinnace that lively do float

Q’s for the quarterdeck where our officers stand
And R’s for the rudder that keeps the ship in command
S is for the stunsells that drive her along
T’s for the topsail, to get there takes long

U’s for the uniform, mostly worn aft
V’s for the vangs running from the main gap
W’s for water, we’re on a pint and a pound
And X marks the spot where old Stormy was drowned

Y’s for yardarm, needs a good sailor man
Z is for Zoe, I’m her fancy man
Z’s also for zero in the cold winter time
And now we have brought all the letters in rhyme