Strike the Bell
Up on the poop deck and walking about,
There is the second mate so steady and so stout.
What he is a-thinkin’ of he doesn’t want to tell,
We wish that he would hurry up and strike, strike the bell.
Strike the bell second mate, let us go below;
Look ye well to windward you can see it’s going to blow.
Look at the glass you can see that it has fell,
We wish that you would hurry up and strike, strike the bell.
Down on the main deck and workin’ at the pumps,
There is the larboard watch just longing for their bunks;
Look out to windward, you can see a great swell,
We wish that he would hurry up and strike, strike the bell. (Chorus)
Forward on the forecastle head and keepin’ sharp lookout,
There is Johnny standin’, a longin’ fer to shout,
“Lights are burnin’ bright sir and everything is well.”
He’s wishing that the second mate would, strike the bell. (Chorus)
Aft on the wheelhouse old Anderson stands,
Graspin’ at the helm with his frostbitten hands,
Lookin’ at the compass though the course is clear as hell;
He’s wishin’ that the second mate would, strike the bell. (Chorus)
Aft on the quarter deck our gallant captain stands,
Lookin’ out to windward with a spyglass in his hand.
What he is a-thinkin’ of we know very well.
He’s thinking more of shortenin’ sail than striking the bell.
This song is an anonymous parody of Ring the Bell, Watchman by Henry Clay Work. That song was never a shanty, per se, but Strike the Bell went on to be used as a pump shanty, according to Hugill.
The crew in this song is awaiting the second mate to call time to allow them to change shifts so they don’t have to respond to the looming storm, having already put in a full watch. This song parodies, with the same melody, Ring the Bell, Watchman by Henry Clay Work, written in 1865. (The Songs of Henry Clay Work, compiled by Bertram G. Work, NY: J.J. Little & Ives (n.d.), pp. 115 -117.)
fo’c’sle (fox-ul) – abbreviation of “forecastle,” the forward, raised section of the ship.