was composed between August and 17 December 1910 and is based on a sea-chanty collected from the singing of John Perring of Dartmouth by H E Piggott and Grainger on 18 January 1908. In Grainger’s words: ‘[Perring] was a remarkably gifted deep-sea sailor songster and said that this song was supposed to be sung by a woman standing on the quay to Shallow Brown as his ship was weighing anchor. Perring did not know why Brown was called “Shallow”—“unless it was that he was shallow in his heart”, as he added. My setting aims to convey a suggestion of wafted, wind-borne, surging sounds heard at sea.’ Although a woman’s voice would make sense to the story, chanties are almost always the prerogative of men singing on board a ship. This is one of Grainger’s most powerful settings, evoking as it does the wildness of the sea and the intensity of human loss; one can almost feel the spray of the ocean and taste the salt water. Grainger is said to have swooned with intense excitement when he played the shimmering accompaniment on the piano and on one particular occasion it caused a female admirer to faint at his feet.
from notes by Barry Peter Ould © 1996