Mingulay Boat Song

Despite persistent rumours that this is a Caribbean “chantey”, this song was a song in fact written by Sir Hugh S. Roberton (1874–1952) in the 1930s, referring to an island off the coast of Scotland.  The man was the founder of the Glasgow Orpheus Choir.  The song is set to the tune from an old Scottish  Gaelic song named “Òran na Comhachaig”.  The first set of lyrics are Roberton’s original and the following are an example of how they are commonly sung in various folk music circles…

Hill you ho, boys / Let her go, boys;
Bring her head round / now all together.
Hill you ho, boys / Let her go, boys;
Sailing home / home to Mingulay.

What care we though / white the Minch is?
What care we / for wind or weather?
Let her go boys! / ev’ry inch is
Wearing home / home to Mingulay.

Wives are waiting / on the bank, or
Looking seaward / from the heather;
Pull her round boys! / and we’ll anchor,
Ere the sun sets / at Mingulay.

 

Chorus:
Heel ya ho boys / let her go boys
Bring her head round / into the weather
Heel ya ho boys / let her go boys
Sailing homeward / to Mingulay!

What care we, boys / how white the Minch is?
What care we, boys / of wind or weather
when we know that / every inch is
sailing homeward / to Mingulay?

Chorus

Wives are waiting / on the pier heads,
Looking seaward / from the heather.
Pull her head ’round / and we’ll anchor
Ere the sun sets / on Mingulay!

Chorus