Ah well, this is one of those “one source” songs.
Stan Hugill said, in Shanties from the Seven Seas, that he learned this chanty from his friend Harding of Barbados, and that he’d not found it elsewhere in print. That’s all we know!
Here’s my rendition of Hugill’s text.
Because of the single source, it’s clear that all revival versions would go back to this…unless of course they come from the mouth of Stan Hugill. So one finds, in one example, that The Shanty Crew (1996) recorded a version very similar to mine, i.e. a faithful rendition of the straightforward notation in text.
On the other hand, we have Hugill’s own recorded version on a 1989 album, where the backing chorus (Stormalong John) is singing something a bit different. To be honest, what they are singing sounds “wrong”; the rhythm just does not make sense—or at least it’s not consistent with other chanties’ rhythmic style. Just my opinion? And why would Hugill not “correct” them; is it tacit approval?
One thing is clear: If Hugill did not make a mistake in this recording, then he made a mistake in his book... It’s recognizing inconsistencies like this that formed a part of my project of critically using “The Bible.”
Don’t just imitate—ruminate!