25 - Flora and James

Words by Cat Kelly/Traditional
Tune by Cat Kelly

Folk Weekend Oxford legend Cat Kelly was commissioned by The Bodleian Libraries in 2018 to arrange and adapt this broadside ballad for community choirs. She playfully updated the gender roles too, switching Flora and James (and getting rid of the free wedding!)

Learn Cat's tune at the youtube link here and buy the sheet music for the full arrangement here. You can see the original words from the broadside here.

Come all you true lovers attend for a while to a tale I am going to unfold!
Young James was a lad who was virtuous and kind, and Flora a sailor so bold.
“Adieu! Lovely James!” One morning said she, “We are called, I am forced for to go,
Far from my native shore, when the loud cannons roar, up aloft when the stormy winds blow.”
Up aloft when the stormy winds blow!
Far from my native shore, when the loud cannons roar, up aloft when the stormy winds blow.

Oh James how he wept, sad tears from his blue eyes, when young Flora said she must depart
She broke her ring in two, said “Here’s one half for you” and the other she pressed to her heart.
James wept in despair, tore at his lovely hair, saying “Flora, with you I must go”
Crying in accents soft “I shall go up aloft with my love, when the stormy winds blow.”
With my love, when the stormy winds blow!
Crying in accents soft…

Said Flora, “Dear James, you surely can’t think for to risk your sweet life on the deep?
And for to go aloft, when on your pillow soft, contented at home you might sleep!”
He said “I’m not afraid, and none shall me persuade, as determined I am for to go
Unto some foreign shore where the loud cannons roar, to be with you when stormy winds blow.”
To be with you…
Unto some foreign shore…

Two sailors they shipped out, these lovers so true (for indeed there’s no gender in war),
And though James was afraid, with his Flora he stayed for true love, for their comrades, and more.
By day and by night these two lovers did fight, and with grit in to battle did go
Taking no joy in war, many hardships they bore up aloft when the stormy winds blow.
Up aloft…
Taking no joy…

Five years on the ocean these two they did sail, respected by all the ship’s crew.
And not one did care how young James wore his hair; they know men can be fine sailors too.
On the bow they did stand, side by side, hand in hand, before once more aloft they did go,
With no care for his life, James followed his wife up aloft when the stormy winds blow.
Up aloft…
With no care…

Just a year more had past when young Flora - at last - had the Captaincy gifted with gold
At the front of the crowd stood young James, and so proud of his Flora he loved to behold.
So on went the sailors, the lovers, to sea, for when the fight stops, who can know?
But until the war’s o’er there’s a young lovers bower up aloft when the stormy winds blow.
Up aloft…
But until…