Just as the Tide Was Flowing - Chords, Lyrics and Origins

Origins

Just as the Tide Was Flowing is a British folk song whose beautiful melody and equally alluring lyrics have enabled it to surreptitiously cross genres.  As well as the many folk versions of the song - the best-known of which is probably by Shirley Collins (who apparently learned it from her aunt) - it has also been recorded by the rock band 10000 Maniacs.  And it was adapted by classical composer Ralph Vaughan Williams, who included a choral arrangement of it as one of ‘Five English Folk Songs’.  So far as the words are concerned, there are longer and fuller versions than the fragment on this page, but - rather like looking at a classical statue with its arms missing - I rather like the fact that it isn’t all there.  To me, the fragment says enough.  I can imagine the rest.

Chords

Capo at 4th Fret

        C              F         C              G
One morning in the month of May,

           Em      Am              F  G C
When all the birds were singing,


   C                    F
I saw a lovely lady stray,

   Dm                         F
Across the fields at break of day,

        C        F                           G
And softly sang her roundelay:

         
C                F                            G
"The tide flows in, the tide flows out,

           C        Am      F G C
Twice every day returning."





     C                         F                  Dm
"A sailor's wife at home must bide."

        Dm                F
She halted heavily, she sighed,


        C          Am           F       G
"He parted from me, me a bride,

         C         Am             F  G  C
Just as the tide was a-flowing."

         
C                F                            G
"The tide flows in, the tide flows out,

           C        Am      F G C
Twice every day returning."

Lyrics

One morning in the month of May,
When all the birds were singing,
I saw a lovely lady stray,
Across the fields at break of day,
And softly sang her roundelay:

"The tide flows in, the tide flows out,
Twice every day returning."

"A sailor's wife at home must bide."
She halted heavily, she sighed,
"He parted from poor me, me a bride,
Just as the tide was a-flowing."

"The tide flows in, the tide flows out,
Twice every day returning."

Other English Folk Songs
Other Traditional Folk Songs