If All the Sea Were Ink

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X:1 T:If the sea were ink M:C| L:1/8 R:Air Q:”Slow & with Expression” B:Smollet Holden - Collection of favourite Irish Airs (London, c. 1841; p. 10) Z:AK/Fiddler’s Companion K:Eb ec|BG FG E2 EG|B2 c>_d c2 BG|F2 FG BG F>G|E6:| GB|c2 BG B2 cd|e2 ef g2 fe|~c2 e>c cB GB|c3B B2GB| c2 BG B2 cd|e2 e>f g2 fe|c2 e>c cB GB|(c3B) !fermata!e2 (c/d/e/c/)| B>G F>G E2 EG|B2 c>_d c2 BG|F2 FG BG F>G|E6||



IF ALL THE SEA WERE INK. AKA - "If the sea were ink." AKA and see "Ah! Where Is the Vow?," "Lay His Sword By His Side." Irish, Air (4/4 time). C Major (Walker): G Major/E Minor (O'Neill): E Flat Major/Mixoldyian (Holden, Stanford/Petrie). Standard tuning (fiddle). One part (Stanford/Petrie, Walker): AAB (Holden, O'Neill). The title is a companion to Playford's "If All the World Were Paper." Together the rhyme constitutes the first verse of a comic poem appearing in John Mennes and James Smith's Facetiae, published in or after 1658:

If all the world were paper,
And all the sea were inke;
If all the trees were bread and cheese,
How should we do for drinke?

If all the world were sand’o,
Oh then what should we lack’o;
If as they say there were no clay,
How should we take tobacco?

If all our vessels ran’a,
If none but had a crack’a;
If Spanish apes ate all the grapes,
How should we do for sack’a?

If fryers had no bald pates,
Nor nuns had no dark cloysters;
If all the seas were beans and pease,
How should we do for oysters?

If there had been no projects,
Nor none that did great wrongs;
If fidlers shall turne players all,
How should we doe for songs?

If all things were eternall,
And nothing their end bringing;
If this should be then how should we
Here make an end of singing?

The authors may have been poking fun at some of the moralizing and over-philosophizing of the religious establishment of the time, but they would probably have been surprised that the first stanza of the rhyme survives to this day in Mother Goose literature. Walker (1924) calls this tune "a magnificently majestic and solemn march to which Moore's 'Lay his sword by his side' is exactly suited."

Additional notes

Source for notated version: -

Printed sources : - Smollet Holden (A Collection of Favorite Irish Airs), c. 1841; p. 10. O'Neill (Music of Ireland: 1850 Melodies), 1903; No. 552, p. 97. Stanford/Petrie (Complete Collection), 1905; No. 770, p. 192. Walker (History of Music in England), 1924; No. 128, p. 335.

Recorded sources: -



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