“Saturday Night at Sea”

Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1843 (Journal from the Florida)
Keywords: sailor ship nonballad


"A sailor loves a gallant ship And messmates bold and free And ever welcomes with delight Saturday night at sea." The sailor recalls the time when, if the weather is good, the crew is able to relax and enjoy themselves


According to John Malcolm Brinnin, _The Sway of the Grand Saloon: A Social History of the North Atlantic_, pp. 73-75, a poem called "Saturday Night at Sea" was written in 1838 by Judge Joseph Howe aboard the brig _Tyrian_ as she made a transatlantic voyage.

Brinnin quotes four verses. Apart from the words "Saturday Night at Sea," they have nothing in common with the poem in Huntington. Yet the theme is so similar that I have to think they are related. Given that the _Florida_ version dates from 1843. my guess is that Howe heard the piece aboard ship, thought it unacceptable for some reason (perhaps it had bawdy lyrics?), and rewrote it. - RBW


  1. Huntington-Whalemen, pp. 65-66, "Saturday Night at Sea" (1 text plus a supplementary stanza, 1 tune)
  3. Roud #2020
  4. BI, SWMS065