Sailor's Farewell Hymn - Padstow Farewell - Cornish Farewell Shanty

This song may be appropriate for a sailor's funeral.  It is usually unattributed, or regarded as "English - traditional".  It was discovered and revived by English folk-musician Mervyn Vincent during the 1970s and so is sometimes attributed to him.

This thread on provides what is likely reliable information about it.   Some of the key points:
My Husband has just told me that Farewell shanty was discovered by the late Mervyn Vincent of St Issey, Padstow, Cornwall, in Plymouth Library ... It was either written in a book or a manuscript within the cover of the book.  ....
[Mervyn was recorded at a concert saying] "It's my song in as much as I found it in a book. And I couldn't read the music, so I got some bugger to tell me the tune. And I was hoping that one day they'd put it on a record ' cause it's 'ansome!   ....
"Alan Molyneux gave it to Mervyn, from where it became part of the North Cornwall traditional repertoire, got taken up by Collins & Mageean and passed around the world, the rest, as they say, is history. I know, cause I was there."
It is attributed as traditional, and was recorded by Johnny Collins on his album The Travellers Rest. According to the sleeve notes on that record, Johnny Collins learned it from Alan Molyneaux of Plymouth (Breakwater Folk Club?)

It seems likely that Alan Molyneux interpreted / played the tune to Vincent, based on the sheet music manuscript that the latter had found.

The speed and style of the song mean that it is a "forebiter", ie a song that may have been sung by sailors in the foc'sl during breaks or before sleep, rather than a working sea-shanty.  

However there is not a lot of evidence (so far) of it actually being an older song, some people have suggested that it may have been written in the mid-late 20th century, rather than being a 19th century nautical song - or that perhaps it was a hymn used by the Seamen's Mission. 

There is a reference on this website to the song being included on a 1993 cassette tape recording - likely Maiden Voyage by Shanty Jack and Stormalong John (ref).

In the 21st century, it was used in a computer game, Assassins Creed IV: Black Flag, which was released in 2013.  Since then it has been recorded by a number of male acapella groups.   Comments left on these videos suggest that the gaming community generally believe it is "old, as in pirates".

It is unclear if the song has actually been used as a hymn rather than a performance piece:   if you know of it being used in this way, please leave a message in the Comments section near the bottom of this page.



Men's chorus with accordion:

Song-leader and large group at a community event:

Lead singer and chorus, unaccompanied:

Close-harmony group - professional recording:

Singer with concertina:


It's our time to go now,
Haul away your anchor,
Haul away your anchor,
It's our sailing time.

Get some sail upon her,
Haul away your halyards,
Haul away your halyards,
It's our sailing time.

Get her on her course now,
Haul away your fore sheet,
Haul away your fore sheet,
It's our sailing time.

Waves are rolling under,
Haul away down Channel,
Haul away down Channel,
On the evening tide.

When my days are over,
Haul away for heaven,
Haul away for heaven,
Lord be by my side.

It's our time to go now,
Haul away your anchor,
Haul away your anchor,
It's our sailing time.

ABC Notation

About ABC notation

T:Sailor's Farewell Hymn / Padstow Farewell
C:English traditional
CC "C" E3 C | D C4 z| CE "G"G3 F | F "C"E4 z|
w:It is time to go now, haul a-way your an-chor,
GG "F"c3 G | A "C"G3 CD | "Am" E4 D2 | "C"C6]
w:Haul a-way your an-chor, 'Tis our sail-ing time.

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