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It Was Sad When
That Great Ship Went Down
 * * * MUSIC COMING SOON * * *

FROM: “Campfire Songs: 5 Songs for SATB Chorus”

VOICING: SATB a cappella


DIFFICULTY: medium advanced


TONE: playful storytelling




PERUSAL SCORE: Music Coming Soon! 

TEXT: ​American Traditional


It Was Sad When That Great Ship Went Down (The Titanic) 


Oh they built the ship Titanic, they built her strong and true, 

And they thought they had a ship that the water would never go through.

It was on her maiden trip when and iceberg struck the ship.

It was sad whan that great ship went down. 



It was sad. It was sad.

It was sad when the great ship went down.

(to the bottom of the...)

Husbands and wives, little children lost their lives.

It was sad when the great ship went down.


They were off for England, not very far from shore,

When the rich refused to associate with the poor. 

So they sent them down below

Where they'd be the first to go.

It was sad when that great ship went down.



The boat was about to sink, and the sides about to burst,

When the captain shouted, "Women and children first!"

Oh, the captain tried to wire, But the wire was on fire.

It was sad when the great ship went down.



Oh, they swung the lifeboats out o'er the deep and raging sea,

When the band struck up with, "Nearer My God to Thee."

Little children wept and cried, as the waves swept o'er the side,

It was sad when the great ship went down.


Note from the Composer

This piece is the first movement of Campfire Songs: 5 songs for SATB Chorus. Singing around the campfire with family is one of my fondest childhood memories. My mother and her five siblings all worked as camp counselors or attended camp in their youth and I later did the same. Singing around the campfire (and elsewhere) is a cultural staple of camp life. You sing to tell stories, to pass the time, and to be share feelings and experiences with others. I find tremendous beauty in participatin in this oral tradion of learning/teaching – no sheet music or lyric sheets, just voices. Naturally there are many variations on such folk song. This arrangement is how I hear it.

Folk songs immediately emerged after the singing of the Titanic on April 15, 1912. Most arrangements of this song upbeat and strangely cheerful despite the tragic subject matter. This arrangement in tremendously fun to sing and leans into the pep even further for of a British humour/dark comedy approach. This piece is tour de force from start to finish by dramatizing all characters and elements of the story. Each vocal line is active throughout and has enough key changes, accent changes, and harmony changes to keep performers and listeners on their toes!

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