She got up the steam the twelfth of March and shortly did embark,
To try her fortune in the Gulf, in charge of Captain Clark;
She carried a hundred and seventy men, a strong and vigorous race,
Some from St. John's and Brigus, and more from Harbour Grace.
She reached the Gulf in early March, the white-coats for to slew,
When 17 thousand prime young harps killed by her hardy crew;
All panned and safely stowed below, with colours waving gay,
The Southern Cross she leaved the ice, bound up for home that day.
She passed near Channel homeward bound, as news came out next day,
To say a steamer from the Gulf she now is on her way;
"No doubt it is the Southern Cross," the operator said,
"And looking to have a bumper trip, and well down by the head."
The last of March the storm came on with blinding snow and sleet,
The Portia, bound for western ports, the Southern Cross did meet;
When Captain Connors from the bridge he saw the ship that day,
And thinking she would shelter up in St. Mary's Bay.
St. Mary's Bay she never reached, as news came out next morn,
She must have been all night at sea, out in that dreadful storm;
No word came from the Southern Cross now twenty days or more,
To say she reached a harbour around the western shore.
The S.S. Kyle was soon dispatched to search the ocean round,
But no sign of the missing ship could anywhere be found;
She searched Cape Race and every place until she reached Cape Pine,
But of the ship or wrecking the captain saw no sign.
The Southern Cross out twenty days, she now is overdue,
We hope, please God, she'll soon arrive and all her hearty crew;
But put your trust in Providence and trust to Him on high,
To send the Southern Cross safe home and fill sad hearts with joy.
All things do happen for the best, but if they're called away,
The brave lads on the Southern Cross out in the storm that day;
We trust they reach that heavenly land with Him on high,
Where cares and sorrows are no more, but all is peace and joy.
####.... Author unknown. Original Newfoundland ballad written out in 1927 by the singer, Lizzie C. Rose of Fox Harbour, Labrador ....####
The original sheet music above was reproduced in Haulin' Rope & Gaff: Songs And Poetry In The History Of The Newfoundland Seal Fishery by Shannon Ryan and Larry Small, pp.99-100 (Breakwater Books Limited, St. John's, NL, 1978).
The YouTube video above features a recording of this variant by Alan Mills (Folk Songs Of Newfoundland, trk#5, 1958, Folkway Records and Service Corp., New York, New York).
A very similar variant was collected in 1960 from Jack Dalton of Codroy, NL, by Kenneth Peacock and published in Songs Of The Newfoundland Outports, Volume 3, pp.973-974, by The National Museum Of Canada (1965) Crown Copyrights Reserved.
Kenneth Peacock noted that this famous native sea ballad achieved wide circulation in Newfoundland through the Gerald S. Doyle booklets, where it was reprinted from Ballads And Sea Songs Of Newfoundland by Elisabeth Bristol Greenleaf and Grace Yarrow Mansfield. The original singer was Lizzie Rose of Fox Harbour, Labrador.
Also recorded by Omar Blondahl (The Saga Of Newfoundland In Song, trk#5, 1955, Rodeo Record Company, St. John's, NL); and (The Great Seal Hunt Of Newfoundland - Songs Of The Sealers, trk#4, 1959, Banff-Rodeo, Halifax, Nova Scotia, distributed by London Records of Canada, Montreal, Quebec).
Note: The Southern Cross was lost in the spring of 1914, returning from the ice. Between 170 and 173 lives were lost with no trace ever found of the ship or crew. The crew of the Newfoundland was lost on the ice in the same storm, leaving about 252 dead in one month.