Roger McGuinn·The Folk Den

July 2015 • The Eclipse


Launched from Hall’s yard, Aberdeen, on 3rd January 1867 the ‘Eclipse’ cost almost £12,000, carried eight whale boats and a crew of 55 men. “The Eclipse” was one of the first seafaring songs to grab my attention. It was on the album “Thar She Blows” By Ewan MacColl and A. L. Lloyd. It tells the true story of three ships whaling in Queen Victoria’s year of Jubilee 1887. The trip was a miserable failure.

A.L. Lloyd commented in the album’s liner notes:

In the year of Queen Victoria’s jubilee, 1887, the steamer Eclipse of Stonehaven went fishing in the Arctic with her sister ships the Eric and the Hope. Her captain, David Gray, was on one of the greatest of nineteenth century whaling skippers. By now the northern waters were nearly fished clean of right whales, and the Scottish fleet was taking whatever it could – white whales, narwhales, bottlenooses (David Gray was the first hunter of bottlenoose whale).

The 1887 season was disastrous. The Erik caught one small whale, the Hope none at all. On June 21st, David Gray took a good fat 57-foot cow whose jawbones are still on show in London’s Natural History Museum, but even the Eclipse, that luckiest of whalers, came home light, and with a bonus of only one-and-threepence a ton for oil. Her crew felt the trip had hardly been worth the hardship, and they marched through the streets of Peterhead to tell the owners so.

The Eclipse made her first voyage in 1867. When she finished whaling, she was sold to the Russians and, renamed the Lomonosov, she was still being used as a survey ship along the Siberian coast as late as 1939.


[G] It was the twenty-first of [D] June, me boys it [G] being a glorious [D] day,
[G] The Eclipse she saw a [D] whale-fish and she [Em] lowered all hands away,
Chorus (after each verse):
[G] So blow ye winds of morning, blow ye winds [C] hi-ho,
[G] Clear away your [C] running gear and [G] blow, [C] boys, [G] blow.

The boats they pulled to leeward, went skipping over the sea,
And we killed this noble whale-fish for another jubilee.

Our Captain Davie Gray was kind and he gave his crew a treat,
And that was why we caught this whale that measured fifty feet.

The Eclipse she lies to windward, her colours she does flee,
And the Erik and the Hope also, and this is the jubilee.

The Erik caught a sperm-whale that measured forty-three,
But the Hope has none and shall get none this year of jubilee.

But when this trip is over we’ll not ship for one and three,
Because we didn’t get fair play in the year of jubilee.

We’ll march up to the Custom House where we do all sign clear,
And when we face old Bless-My-Soul we’ll tell him without fear.

We’ll tell him that we’ll never sign again for one and three,
And we’ll march through Commercial Street and sing the jubilee.

And so blew ye winds of morning, blow ye winds hi-ho,
Clear away your running gear and blow, boys, blow.

The Folk Den Archives

  • The Eclipse
  • Yellow Rose of Texas
  • Acres of Clams
  • The Rainbow
  • The Crawdad Song
  • Paddy and the Whale
  • The Ash Grove
  • The Cherry Tree Carol
  • Little Moses
  • Henry Lee
  • Risselty Rosselty Now Now Now
  • Tell Ole Gil
  • Hard Times of Old England
  • Peg & Awl
  • Take A Drink On Me
  • The Lazy Farmer Boy
  • Engine 143
  • Winter’s Almost Gone
  • The Month of January
  • It Came Upon A Midnight Clear
  • She’ll Be Coming Round The Mountain
  • Swannanoa Tunnel
  • Jimmy Brown
  • I Heard The Voice Of Jesus
  • I’ve Been Working On The Railroad
  • We Are Crossing The Jordan River
  • Early One Morning
  • Swing Low Sweet Chariot
  • The Moonshiner
  • Banks of Newfoundland
  • John Hardy
  • We Three Kings
  • Away With Rum
  • Darling Clementine
  • Give Me Oil In My Lamp
  • Isn’t It Grand?
  • Jacob’s Dream
  • When Jones’s Ale Was New
  • Down In The Valley
  • Let My People Go!
  • Paddy West
  • Titanic
  • Eddystone Light
  • God Rest Ye Merry Gentlmen
  • The Cobbler
  • Black Is The Color Of My True Love’s Hair
  • Bury Me Not On The Lone Prairie
  • The Coast of Peru
  • Paul & Silas
  • Leave Her Johnny Leave Her
  • To Welcome Poor Paddy Home
  • The Squirrel
  • Polly Vaughn
  • Henry Martin
  • Barbara Allen
  • Back To Sea
  • The Bears Went Over The Mountain
  • Pay Me My Money Down
  • Rolling Down To Old Maui
  • Whoa Back Buck
  • I’m On My Way
  • All The Pretty Little Horses
  • Big Rock Candy Mountain
  • Black Mt. Rag / Soldier’s Joy
  • She Never Will Marry
  • Randy Dandy Oh
  • Take This Hammer
  • Christmas Is Coming
  • Frozen Logger
  • I’ll Fly Away
  • Drill Ye Tarriers
  • When I First Came To This Land
  • Old Chisholm Trail
  • A Roving
  • Dry Bones
  • Old Plank Road
  • My Home’s Across The Smokey Mountains
  • Nobody Knows You When You’re Down And Out
  • No Payday In Detroit
  • Go Tell It On The Mountain
  • 500 Miles
  • Joshua Fit The Battle of Jericho
  • Darlin’ Corey
  • Skip To My Lou
  • Going Down The Road Feeling Bad
  • I Know Where I’m Going
  • Come And Go With Me To That Land
  • Cripple Creek
  • Blow The Man Down
  • Old Joe Clark
  • Away Rio
  • O Come All Ye Faithful
  • Old Blue
  • The Ballad of the Boll Weevil
  • Fair and Tender Ladies
  • Sugar Baby
  • The Coo Coo
  • King Kong Kitchie Kitchie Ki Me O
  • The Butcher’s Boy
  • Glory Glory
  • The Great Silkie of Sule Skerry
  • The House Carpenter
  • This Little Light Of Mine
  • Joy To The World
  • Housewife’s Lament
  • Whup Jamboree
  • Perry’s Victory
  • Every Time I Feel The Spirit
  • Katie Morey
  • Pretty Polly
  • Molly Malone
  • Greensleeves
  • Wade in the Water
  • Mary Had A Little Lamb
  • St. Clair's Defeat
  • Children Go Where I Send Thee
  • Oh Mary Don't You Weep
  • Ruben Ranzo
  • There's A Hole In The Bucket
  • Red River Valley
  • Erie Canal
  • On Top Of Old Smokey
  • Old Riley
  • So Early In The Spring
  • Wanderin'
  • Follow The Drinking Gourd
  • Let The Bullgine Run
  • Cindy
  • The First Noel
  • The John B's Sails
  • Spanish Ladies
  • Oh Freedom
  • Haul Away Joe
  • Down by the Riverside
  • Salty Dog Blues
  • Gypsey Rover
  • Ezekiel Saw A Wheel
  • Drunken Sailor
  • Silver Dagger
  • The Gallows Pole
  • We Wish You a Merry Christmas
  • Heave Away
  • Banks of Ohio
  • Shenandoah
  • Go Tell Aunt Rhodie
  • He's Got The Whole World In His Hands
  • Squid-Jigging Ground
  • 12 Gates To The City
  • Wild Mountain Thyme
  • Pretty Saro
  • St. James Infirmary
  • When the Saints Go Marching In
  • Away In A Manger
  • I Am A Pilgram
  • Wildwood Flower
  • Railroad Bill
  • Delia's Gone
  • All My Trials
  • Tarrytown
  • Michael Row the Boat Ashore
  • Rock Island Line
  • Roddy McCorley
  • Spanish is the Loving Tongue
  • Waltzing Matilda
  • I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day
  • Battle Hymn of the Republic
  • America For Me
  • Streets of Laredo
  • Bring Me a Little Water, Sylvie
  • Nancy Whiskey
  • Water is Wide, The
  • House of the Rising Sun, The
  • Colorado Trail, The
  • Catch The Greenland Whale
  • The Riddle Song
  • Stewball
  • Twelve Days of Christmas, The
  • Makes A Long Time Man Feel Bad
  • Coffee Grows On White Oak Trees
  • Cumberland Mountain Bear Chase
  • Cruel War, The
  • Star Spangled Banner
  • Willie Moore
  • Kilgary Mountain
  • Lilly of the West
  • Dink's Song
  • Greenland Whale Fisheries
  • Auld Lang Syne
  • I Saw Three Ships
  • Ain' No Mo' Cane On De Brasis
  • Fair Nottamun Town
  • Sail Away Lady
  • Trouble In Mind
  • Get Along Little Dogies
  • Liverpool Gals
  • Alabama Bound
  • Blood Red Roses
  • Old Texas
  • 900 Miles
  • Brazos River, The
  • Bonny Ship the Diamond, The
  • John The Revelator
  • Mighty Day
  • Home On The Range
  • John Henry
  • Pushboat
  • James Alley Blues, The
  • Handsome Cabin Boy, The
  • Bound To Australia
  • Finnegan's Wake
  • Brandy Leave Me Alone
  • Cold Cold Coast of Greenland, The
  • Mary Had A Baby
  • Wagoner’s Lad
  • Wild Goose
  • Go To Sea Once More
  • South Australia
  • This Train
  • East Virginia
  • Wayfaring Stranger
  • Brisbane Ladies
  • Sailor Lad
  • Alberta
  • In The Evenin’
  • What Child Is This
  • Golden Vanity
  • Lost Jimmy Whelan
  • Boatman
  • Tribute to Bob Gibson
  • Cold Coast of Greenland
  • New York Girls
  • Buffalo Skinners
  • Springfield Mountain
  • Easter
  • To Morrow
  • John Riley
  • Argonaut, The
  • Virgin Mary
  • Old Paint