Song On The Baie Ste. Anne Disaster by Jerry Hébert

(Composed and sung by Jerry Hébert, of Lagacéville, in 1959)

We have just heard the news
Of a terrible tragedy
That happened on the sea,
Bringing disaster and death
To the village of Baie Ste-Anne
And the village of Escuminac.
All over, one could see
Loops of black ribbon.
Along the shore could be seen
A panic-stricken people in tears,
Looking far off out to sea,
Waiting for those who did not come.

“Oh, Sea! Oh, Sea! You are deceptive,”
Said many while sobbing.
“Sometimes you look so beautiful,
But now you make us cry.
On sunny days you charm us,
You make us feel like singing,
But when your anger rises,
You cause us great grief.
You leave along the shore
Widows, and orphans too;
In their hearts, a great wound,
But you, you regret nothing.”

The residents of these villages
Were typical hard-working fishermen,
Going out to sea
To earn their living,
Their hearts full of courage,
Always believing they would return.
Suddenly, a storm raged,
And 35 of them died;
Despite the sound of the storm
Mingled with the waves,
The voice of God could be heard:
“Come to me, all my children.”

And all of you listening to me,
I have some advice to give you,
Let us always be on our guard,
Because God will come visit us one day.
We never know
When He will come for us.
Better to take care,
For it is a fact plain and simple,
Here below, life for us is like
A great ocean,
Each day, on a small boat,
We drift toward eternity.

Jerry Hébert called his song Le Désastre de Baie Ste-Anne. Baie Ste-Anne is the French-speaking settlement south of Escuminac. Jerry had many friends there who were lost in the storm. Like so many of our song-makers, he felt irresistibly impelled to add his lament to the tributes to the dead fishermen. His song gives a fine description of the deceitful sea in its beauty and its rage, and ends with the philosophical reflection:

“Life itself is a great ocean
On which every day in our fragile bark
We move toward eternity.”

Jerry Hébert
Louise Manny
c. 1959
New Brunswick, CANADA
© 1968, Brunswick Press. All Rights Reserved.

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