Wellerman sea shanty: what is the UK number 1 song by Scottish TikTok star Nathan Evans about - and lyrics in full

Evans’ version of the song has reached number one in the UK Big Top 40

Scottish postman-gone-singer Nathan Evans has enjoyed a whirlwind month after going viral on TikTok with his version of ‘Sea Shanty’.

The song is not what we generally expect from a hit UK single, as it is originally a New Zealand folk song from the 19th century.

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So, what is the song about and what are the lyrics? This is everything you need to know.

The Airdrie postie has become a global singing sensations since he went viral on TikTok (Picture: TikTok/Nathan Evans)

What is a Wellerman?

Wellerman is the name used for anyone who worked for the whaling company Weller Bros., based in Sydney.

The ships would bring essentials, as well as luxury goods across from Australia to Ōtākou on the Otago Peninsula, New Zealand.

However, the ships were also used for whaling - carrying smaller vessels which would be used to capture whales.

What do the lyrics of the song mean?

The sea shanty first came about in the 1800s when sailors or merchant navy harbour workers would sing as they loaded ships or waited on ships arriving at shore.

The song’s chorus mentions: “Soon may the Wellerman come

“To bring us sugar and tea and rum”

This refers to the type of luxury items the workers would have been waiting to receive by the ‘wellerman’ - men on board the vessel - when it arrived in New Zealand.

The song mentions the capturing of a whale and how it had proven difficult, keeping the boat at sea for “forty days and even more,” but the ‘The Billy of Tea’ ship, and her crew did not give up.

“When the tougin’ is done” refers to the descaling on whales which would be brought to shore by the vessel once it had been captured.

It is not known whether the song was written about a specific event or if it was based on the relatively difficult task of shoring a whale.

How did the song go viral?

26-year-old Evans from Airdrie sang the song as part of a TikTok video,

Hewas working as a postman in his hometown at the time and had not considered a career in music.

The song is thought to be one of the few sea shanty songs with a positive outlook on how the hardship, isolation away from home and lack of necessities and luxuries will be worth it for the sailors.

The situation of the merchant sailors is not dissimilar to that of young TikTok users who feel trapped at home, unable to enjoy their lives and are looking forward to the days ahead.

The song entered the charts at number three, but has now ranked number one in the Big Top 40 charts.

What are the song lyrics of Wellerman?

There once was a ship that put to sea

The name of the ship was the Billy of Tea

The winds blew up, her bow dipped down

O blow, my bully boys, blow

Soon may the Wellerman come

To bring us sugar and tea and rum

One day, when the tonguin’ is done

We’ll take our leave and go

She had not been two weeks from shore

When down on her a right whale bore

The captain called all hands and swore

He’d take that whale in tow

Soon may the Wellerman come

To bring us sugar and tea and rum

One day, when the tonguin’ is done

We’ll take our leave and go

Before the boat had hit the water

The whale’s tail came up and caught her

All hands to the side, harpooned and fought her

When she dived down below

Soon may the Wellerman come

To bring us sugar and tea and rum

One day, when the tonguin’ is done

We’ll take our leave and go

No line was cut, no whale was freed

The Captain’s mind was not of greed

But he belonged to the whaleman’s creed

She took the ship in tow

Soon may the Wellerman come

To bring us sugar and tea and rum

One day, when the tonguin’ is done

We’ll take our leave and go

For forty days, or even more

The line went slack, then tight once more

All boats were lost, there were only four

But still that whale did go

Soon may the Wellerman come

To bring us sugar and tea and rum

One day, when the tonguin’ is done

We’ll take our leave and go

As far as I’ve heard, the fight’s still on

The line’s not cut and the whale’s not gone

The Wellerman makes his regular call

To encourage the Captain, crew, and all

Soon may the Wellerman come

To bring us sugar and tea and rum

One day, when the tonguin’ is done

We’ll take our leave and go

Soon may the Wellerman come

To bring us sugar and tea and rum

One day, when the tonguin’ is done

We’ll take our leave and go