Shackleton was commissioned by Gondwana Voices as part of the song cycle ‘Turn on the Open Sea’  in 2001, under the direction of Lyn Williams. 

Sir Ernest Shackleton’s Endurance mission is one of the greatest stories of survival in the history of exploration, and is considered to be the last great polar journey of the “Heroic Age of Exploration.” In December 1914, Shackleton set sail with his 27-man crew to circumnavigate and traverse Antarctica. Ice conditions were unusually harsh, and the wooden ship became trapped in the pack ice of the Weddell Sea. For 10 months, the Endurance drifted, locked within the ice, until the pressure crushed the ship.

When they had drifted to open leads of water the men sailed three small lifeboats they’d salvaged to a bleak crag called Elephant Island. They were on land for the first time in 497 days; however, it was uninhabited and, due to its distance from shipping lanes, provided no hope for rescue. Shackleton and five others immediately set out to take the crew’s rescue into their own hands. In a 22-foot lifeboat named the James Caird, they accomplished the impossible, surviving a 17-day, 800-mile journey through the world’s worst seas to South Georgia Island, where a whaling station was located. This voyage is considered one of the greatest small boat crossings in history.

The six men landed on an uninhabited part of the island, so their last hope was to cross 26 miles of mountains and glaciers, considered impassable, to reach the whaling station on the other side. Starved, frostbitten and wearing rags, Shackleton and two others made the trek, and in August 1916, 21 months after the initial departure of the Endurance, Shackleton himself returned to rescue the men on Elephant Island. Although they’d withstood the most incredible hardship not one member of the 28-man crew was lost. On returning to a homeland engulfed in war, many of the men enlisted to serve on the Front. Within weeks 2 of the crewmembers had lost their life.

This beautiful sample is from the Gondwana Voice album ‘New Light, New Hope’


Sing a choir favourite Sing a Finale Sing a global story Sing a history Sing a Jarman classic Sing a message Sing for an eisteddfod
Duration 5:30
Key Eb Major
Range Standard SATB
More info Available with strings. Contact Paul for parts and scores.
Price AU$3.00 per copy


S H A C K L E T O N                    

By Paul Jarman

Old man looking out to the sea
This time he’s leaving
Wind swept hair and strong old bones
Now gently fading, no longer sailing

Oh many years ago
Can you remember?
The haunting cry of a ship that drowned
Beneath the ice flows of the Weddell Sea

Times were hard but we made it over
Made it over, they wonder why
Through the cold, but we made it over
Made it over, they’ll never know

Two years trapped in the Southern Sea
Far from our homeland
Roaring waves and wailing winds
May well defeat us, but hopes were high

Oh please tell me why
We’re most forgotten
Far away from a world at war
Who needs a hero, who needs to know?

Why? Why? Did we have to come home to war?
Why, why, why?
Try, Try, tell me what are we fighting for?
Try, try, try.

And then, on the Red fields of Flanders
All the men were fallen
A bloody war fought on every shore
Brought pain and sorrow to a sailing man

But I still hear the steam whistle calling
Was the day of wonders
Frozen tears and heart felt cheers
Never forgotten, we made it over

© Paul Jarman 2001