This blog is for everyone who uses words.

The ordinary-sized words are for everyone, but the big ones are especially for children.

Saturday, 29 December 2012

Saturday Rave: I saw three ships

This is a song, but it's a story, too.

I saw three ships come sailing in
On Christmas Day, on Christmas day
I saw three ships come sailing in
On Christmas Day in the morning.

And what was in those ships all three?

Well,  what was in those ships all three? Oh, the usual sort of stuff: angels etc (though you'd have thought angels would have flown, wouldn't you? I suppose they must have been too fat after all the mince pies).

In some version of the song the ships don't contain angels of any size, but three pretty girls. 

And it isn't Christmas, either:

And one could whistle and one could sing
And one could play on the violin
Such joy there was at my wedding
On New Year's Day in the morning.

Considering that the Christmas story is really a rather happy and in parts a hilarious one (and when the angel turned up we were, like, OMG!!!) it's much too often told with a long face. One of the lovely things about this story is that it's set to a nice cheerful jig (which some say is a version of Greensleeves,'s just not, is it?).

Oh, and by the way, those ships, said in the song to be sailing into Bethlehem. Can I just point out that this would have been much easier if the place weren't twenty miles from the sea?

Still, as long as it's cheerful...

I Saw Three Ships was first sung in the 1600s, perhaps in Derbyshire, England. The three ships may be a reference to the ships which brought the remains of the Three Wise Men to Köln, or perhaps to the coat of arms of Good King Wencelas, which had three ships on it.

Word To Use Today: ship. This word comes from the Old English scip, and before that from the Old High German scipfī, which means cup.

I think that's lovely.

1 comment:

  1. One of my favourite carols and lovely to read about it here. Agree about the word SHIP...that's good.