While Tom Lewis is credited with the lyrics to this fine song, the chorus is based on older Irish verses. James Joyce jotted the following note while writing Ulysees:
May the God above
Send down a dove
With teeth as sharp as razors
To slit the throats
Of the English dogs
That hanged our Irish leaders.
This in turn is based on an anti-politician Irish toast that first appeared in a letter to The Bristol Mercury, December 7, 1830:
May God above,
send down his love,
With swords as sharp as sickles,
To cut the throats of gentlefolks,
Who grudge poor men their victuals!!!
According to the annotated notes of Joyce, there are variants with dove replacing love as early as 1852.
Various other songs have used the same title, including Gordon Bok's tune on All Shall Be Well Again.
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This dirty town has been my home since last time I was sailing
But I'll not stay another day, I'd sooner be out whaling
Oh Lord above, send down a dove,
With beak as sharp as razors
To cut the throat of them there blokes
Who sells bad beer to sailors
Paid off me score and them ashore, me money soon was flying
With Judy Lee upon my knee in my ear a lying
With my newfound friends, my money spent just as fast as winking
But when I make to clean the slate, the landlord says, "Keep Drinking"
With me money gone and clothes in pawn and Judy set for leaving
Six months of pay gone in three days, but Judy isn't grieving
When the crimp comes round, I'll take his pound and his hand I'll be shaking
Tomorrow morn sail for the Horn just as dawn is breaking
So for one last trip from port I'll ship but next time back I'm swearing
I'll settle down in my hometown and go no more seafaring