I saw three ships – a contemporary re-working by Daniel Charles Damon

I am grateful to Daniel Damon, a well known hymn writer, jazz musician and composer from the USA who has offered a new perspective on this text, so fitting, sadly, for our contemporary world:
I saw three ships come sailing in
on Christmas day, on Christmas day;
I saw three ships come sailing in
on Christmas day in the morning.


And what was in those ships all three
on Christmas day, on Christmas day;
and what was in those ships all three
on Christmas day in the morning?


The hungry and the poor were there
on Christmas day, on Christmas day;
the hungry and the poor were there
on Christmas day in the morning.


Those yearning to be free were there
on Christmas day, on Christmas day;
those yearning to live free were there
on Christmas day in the morning.


If we will serve and welcome them
on Christmas day, on Christmas day;
if we will serve and welcome them
on Christmas day in the morning;


Then all the bells on earth shall ring
on Christmas day, on Christmas day;
then all the bells on earth shall ring
on Christmas day in the morning.

Words and Music: English traditional; Music arr. and vss. 3-6 Daniel Charles Damon © 2022 Hope Publishing Company, Carol Stream, IL 60188. All rights reserved. Used with permission. Please report any use of this through your copyright licence, or approach the copyright holder for permission.

Tune: I SAW THREE SHIPS
Metre: Irregular
Topical Index: Christmas, Hospitality, Refugee, Migration, Social Justice
Scripture: Luke 2:1-20, Leviticus 19:33-34; Matthew 2:1-12; 13-23; Hebrews 13:2

Daniel says: I have loved and played this English carol for years but struggled with the ancient text. I wrote some new stanzas that may give this carol new liturgical use. Carl Daw helped me finish this text.

Dan Damon’s recordings can be found here

His printed music is here

Three ships, watercolour copyright Andrew Pratt

Published by

Andrew Pratt

Andrew Pratt was born in Paignton, Devon, England in 1948.

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