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The Deadly Sands

[ Roud - ; probably Ruth Tongue]

Saul Rose sang The Deadly Sands on Faustus’ 2016 Westpark album Death and Other Animals. They noted:

Ruth Tongue’s manuscript has this song as the first in a section described as ‘Songs of the Severn’. According to Ruth, it is also known as The Wrecker’s Song and was collected in “fragments” from 1906 to 1920. She lists Taunton Market (1906), Porlock, Weston-Super-Mare and Burnham on Sea as locations of collection, and Kelve as the provenance of the chorus. Cryptically she says “Other verses followed if verse…1 were sung as a pass-word to knowledge of it.”

Very probably the song was actually written by Ruth Tongue, as were others like I’d Rather Be Tending My Sheep, Judas Was a Red-Headed Man, and The Three Danish Galleys.


Faustus sing The Deadly Sands

The tide goes up and the tide goes down,
It’s forty feet at Minehead town.
The tide it ebbs and the tide it flows,
And the deadly sand it lies below.
The deadly sand pulls all around,
And many a tall ship’s cast aground.
And many a craft in sight of land,
That’s swallowed up by the deadly sand.

Chorus (twice after each verse):
Down down, down down,
The deadly sand will drag them down.

We lit a fire on a cliff so high,
And a merchantman came a-sailing by.
She turned our way and before our eyes,
Oh the deadly sand it swallowed our prize.
There were no barrels nor packs of lace,
Of costly silk we saw no trace.
Kegs of spice and chests of tea,
She dragged them down in the Severn Sea.

A navy ship gave us a hail,
All for to bring us to Bristol jail.
She turned swift to cross our way,
And the deadly sand beneath her lay.
The pilot cried farewell dear wife,
There is no man can save his life.
And some did pray and some did roar,
But none of the crew did come ashore.

Oh we do row when the moon is low,
We follow the tides and the sand below.
We land our prizes at Watchet Bay,
And the packhorse train is away away.
We shall be hanged on the Severn shore,
And with our chains we will wreck no more.
Now every ship come a-sailing by,
Sails over our heads when the tide is high.


The lyrics are from Faustus’ Bandcamp page with corrections by Garry Gillard for the actual singing of Saul Rose.