Winnipeg Folk Festival Finale Study Guide

I have given myself and a couple of my friends (him and him) a task for the upcoming Winnipeg Folk Festival. There is a tradition on the final night that all of the performers at the festival come on stage and conduct the finale. The three songs that comprise the finale are The Mary Ellen Carter, Wild Mountain Thyme and Amazing Grace. The assignment is to learn the lyrics to these songs, especially the Mary Ellen Carter, so that everyone can sing along without looking at the lyrics in the songbook.

Now, when I say sing along I mean sing along with gusto. Think of an Irish bar 30 minutes before closing time and the whole place rocking and singing to a traditional reel. That’s the idea.

This post is the study guide for this assignment. I’ve compiled the lyrics for these songs and validated them against specific tracks from iTunes to make sure they are correct.

### The Mary Ellen Carter by Stan Rogers

The Mary Ellen Carter (iTunes) is a pretty amazing song. On the Wikipedia page for the song it is credited with savings someone’s life! The lyrics for it are substantial and have some areas where emphasis is needed (highlighted in yellow). This will take a while to get it right. I’d suggest focusing most attention on this song.

She went down last october in a pouring driving rain
The skipper he’d been drinkin' and the mate he felt no pain
Too close to three mile rock and she was dealt her mortal blow
And the Mary Ellen Carter settled low

There was just us five aboard her when she finally was awash
We’d worked like hell to save her, all heedless of the cost
And the groan she gave as she went down it caused us to proclaim
That the Mary Ellen Carter would rise again

Well the owners wrote her off, not a nickel would they spend “She gave twenty years of service boys then met her sorry end.
But insurance paid the loss to us, so let her rest below”
Then they laughed at us and said we had to go

But we talked of her all winter, some days around the clock
She’s worth a quarter million a-floating at the dock
And with every jar that hit the bar we swore we would remain
And make the Mary Ellen Carter rise again

CHORUS: Rise again, rise again
That her name not be lost to the knowledge of men
Oh those who loved her best, and were with her ‘til the end
Will make the Mary Ellen Carter rise again

All spring now we’ve been with her on a barge lent by a friend
Three dives a day in a hard hat suit and twice I’ve had the bends
Thank God it’s only sixty feet and the currents here are slow
Or I’d never have the strength to go below

But we patched her rents, stopped her vents, dogged hatch and portal down
Put cables to her fore and aft and girded her around
Tomorrow noon we hit the air and then take up the strain
And make the Mary Ellen Carter rise again


For we couldn’t leave her there you see to crumble into scale
She’d saved our lives so many times living through the gale
And the laughing, drunken rats who left her to a sorry grave
They won’t be laughing in another day

And you to whom adversity has dealt the final blow
With smiling bastards lying to you everywhere you go
Turn to and put out all your strength of arm and heart and brain
And like the Mary Ellen Carter rise again

2ND CHORUS: Rise again, rise again
Though your heart it be broken your life about to end
No matter what you’ve lost be it a home, a love, a friend
Like the Mary Ellen Carter rise again


### Wild Mountain Thyme

This is a traditional Irish song. As such, the lyrics are modified by various performers. This recording by Carl Peterson (iTunes) isn’t the best but it’s a good one to learn the lyrics with. It’s really slow, and you can go along at your own pace without any issue.

Oh, the summer time is come,
And the trees are sweetly blooming,
And the wild mountain thyme
Grows around the blooming heather.

Will you go, lassie, go?
And we’ll all go together
To pluck wild mountain thyme
All around the blooming heather,

Will you go, lassie, go?
I will build my love a bower
By yon clear and crystal fountain,
And on it I will pile,
All the flowers from the mountain.


If my true love, she were gone,
I will surely find another
Where the while wild mountain thyme
Grows around the blooming heather.


Oh, the summertime is coming
And thre trees are sweetly blooming
And the wild mountain thyme
Grows around the blooming heather.


### Amazing Grace

I’m sure you know most of the words to Amazing Grace. This recording by Anne Murray (iTunes) is a good one to hammer the lyrics in with. I know, Anne Murray? Yes, I know. It is what it is.

Amazing grace!
How sweet the sound,
That sav’d a wretch like me!

I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.
‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,

And grace my fears reliev’d;
How precious did that grace appear,
The hour I first believ’d!

When we’ve been there ten thousand years,
Bright shining as the sun,
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
Than when we’ve first begun.

Amazing grace! How sweet the sound,
That sav’d a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.

Jamie Thingelstad @jthingelstad

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