This ballad begins: 'Cheer up, cheer up, my mother dear, / O why do you sit and weep? / Do you think that He who guards me here / Forsakes me on the deep?' The name of the publisher is not included and the sheet is not dated.
This ballad is written from the viewpoint of a conscientious Scottish sailor far from home, who wants to reassure his angst-ridden mother not to worry about him. Indeed, the ballad mentions that it is unlikely that God, who looks after him so successfully on land, should forsake her son when he is aboard a ship. Accompanying the text, is a woodcut of a deer reposing in a wooded setting. Many broadside ballads such as this one are held in the National Library of Scotland's collection.
Early ballads were dramatic or humorous narrative songs derived from folk culture that predated printing. Originally perpetuated by word of mouth, many ballads survive because they were recorded on broadsides. Musical notation was rarely printed, as tunes were usually established favourites. The term 'ballad' eventually applied more broadly to any kind of topical or popular verse.
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