Roll Northumbria (Zee Zhanty parody)

An excerpt from “Neathy Songs”:

Roll Northumbria by The One-Legged Violinist

[color=#1155cc]Sheet music can be found on the following page.[/color]

The One-Legged Violinist was a sailor on The Surface. He served on The Northumbria, the first Neath sailing ship, which ferried the soldiers up the Stolen River in the Campaign of 1868. He was wounded due to Hellish Artillery and lost his leg in the. He went on to become a relatively successful violinist. His work is unprecedented in how he arranged sea shanties to a “sophisticated” instrument like the violin and played them in music halls. When he did write original songs, they were in a similar style to sea shanties. This continued loyalty to his original profession earned him the friendship of the newly emerging zailor profession. While he has never able to work as a zailor, they consider him one of their own and many of his songs, such as this one, have been adopted as their new “zee zhanties”

Historical Notes: The Northumbria was the first Neath sailing ship. It was practically destroyed in the Campaign of 1868 and barely pulled into Wolfstack Docks. Never to be outdone, and suffering from an acute shortage of wood, The Northumbria was comparable to the Iron-hulls of The Surface. The techniques developed to power the ship were refined to allow for open-zee zailing in the following years. The Carpathia, The Vengeance, and The Celestial Call are some of the names of the ships that would be commissioned by the Admiralty in future years.

While this song is often sung by zailors, it was not originally written as a zee zhanty. As such, I haven’t transcribed it with the zailor quirk.

Verse 1:
'Twas late '68 at the new Stainrod Yard
She was commissioned to haul us to war
Build the Northumbria there on the bar
Roll, Northumbria, Roll

Verse 2:
For when the Church saw who were our neighbours
Call came on high from the powers that be
To build a royal monster with all our labours
Roll, Northumbria, Roll, me boys
Roll, Northumbria, Roll

Verse 3:
Carpathia, Vengeance, Celestial Call
She was the tanker to start off 'em all
From the banks of our river as an arm of the law
Roll, Northumbria, Roll

Verse 4:
And the Lord Mayor threw a bottle of wine
And watched as the soldiers went off to die
What lay ahead could no mortal divine
Roll, Northumbria, Roll, me boys
Roll, Northumbria, Roll

And it’s one for the false stars above
Two for the empire we love
And it’s three for the fire that burns down below
Roll Northumbria
Roll, Northumbria, Roll


Verse 5:
So come all ye good soldiers, beware the command
That comes down on high from the desk of a man
Who’s never held steel or gun in his hand
Roll, Northumbria, Roll

Note: The 5th verse has never been officially performed, as the Ministry of Public Decency would never allow such subversive lyrics. But when zailors sing it, it is often included. While there is no evidence, it is often asserted that the 5th verse was written by The One-Legged Violinist and he taught it to zailors he could trust. Proponents of this theory typically point to the revolutionary tendencies, mainly regarding the treatment of veterans, The Violinist held.

Verse 6:
For that one wild battle made cracks in her frame
Spilled 'er black guts all across the wild main
She limped away through a river aflame
Roll, Northumbria, Roll, me boys
Roll, Northumbria, Roll

Note: While the 6th verse is sometimes officially performed, and is certainly included if the performer includes the 5th verse, it wasn’t included in its original run. With the failure of the Campaign still fresh, the Ministry wasn’t inclined to permit a reminder to be performed. It is still excluded in a high class venue like a music hall, but is often included in performances in pubs or similar locales. Unlike the 5th verse, it is verifiable that what I have chosen to label the 6th verse (as it is traditionally included at the end of a complete rendition of the song) was penned by The One-Legged Violinist.


Note: The verse I labeled the chorus is only performed once in the official version of the song. When either of the subversive verses are included, the chorus typically has two back to back renditions and then a final rendition at the end. Some people report that this is to “make sure no one official is still listening”, or the alike. Of course, I have been unable to verify this explanation.