John O'Neil (MacEdward Leach)

Ye tender hearted Christians,
I pray ye lend an ear,
To this most awful tragedy
I mean to let you hear;
If it's any offence, pray,
stop my pen before I do write more,
For I mean to state what did take place
in the year of 19 and four.

On the fifteenth day of April,
as many well do know,
Those youths they left their own homes
a-shooting for to go;
The day being gone, night coming on,
and they not yet returned,
Which caused their tender parents
in anguish for to mourn.

They searched the cliffs
all that long night,
They searched them 'round and 'round,
And in the morning at daylight
their dogs and guns were found;
Amazed, they stood in wonder
and gazing all around,
But still the dreadful truth was known,
they're in the ocean drowned.

Oh, the cries of their aged parents
would grieve your heart full sore,
All for their loving children
they will never see them more;
Their brothers and their sisters,
oh, how bitter they did cry,
All for their loving brother,
now in the ocean wide.

Those youths they left their homes,
their friends will never forget,
Their parents never dreaming of
their children's violent death;
God's ways they are mysterious,
there's no man can devise,
In their youth and bloom he called on them,
and that is why they died.

Now to conclude and finish,
their names I'll tell to you,
There's John O'Neil, both tall and fair,
his age scarce twenty-two;
His comrade, John Butler,
his age scarce twenty-three,
Smart, active, and courageous
as any there could be.

Two smart young youths all in their bloom,
Their lives were snatched away;
May the Lord have mercy on their souls,
Good Christians, for them pray.

####.... Author unknown. Variant of a broadside ballad ....####

Collected in 1951 from Mrs Ambrose James (Bride) Coombs [1922-2003] of Biscay Bay NL, and published in MacEdward Leach And The Songs Of Atlantic Canada © 2004 Memorial University of Newfoundland Folklore and Language Archive (MUNFLA).


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