Wrecker's Prayer

Poem: © Thedore Goodridge Roberts

Music: © 1973 Dan Aguiar


Stories of people enhancing their living by wreck-picking, or even assisting the wrecks to happen, are rampant round the coasts of many countries.  In this poem, it is coastal Newfoundlanders merely praying for a little divine assistance.  It comes from The Leather Bottle, a 1937 novel by Theodore Goodridge Roberts.  Dan Aguiar is an old musical friend of mine now living in Red Hook, New York. 


The January Men and Then Some



Give us a wreck – or two, Good Lord

For winter in Topsail Tickle* is hard

With grey frost creepin' like a Mortal Sin

And perishin' lack of bread in the bin


A grand, rich wreck, we do humbly pray

Busted abroad at the break-of-day

And hove clear in 'cross Topsail Reef

With vittles and hear to beguile our grief


One grand wreck, or maybe two

With gear and vittles to see us through

Til the spring starts up like the leap-of-day

And the fish strike back into Topsail Bay


Lord of reefs and tides and sky

Heed ye our need and hark to our cry:

Bread by the bag and beef by the cask

Ease for sore bellies is all we ask


One rich wreck, for Thy hand is strong

A barque or a brig from up-along

Bemused by the twisty tides, oh Lord

For winter in Topsail Tickle is hard


Loud and long will we sing thy praise

Merciful Father, O Ancient of Days

Master of fog and tide and reef

Heave us a wreck to beguile our grief




* a tickle is a small strait, or passage

† To the Westward – Nova Scotia or the U.S.

Wrecker's Prayer is recorded on the album In Concert