More than five weeks into their voyage, the 425 Saints on the International (including ancestors of at least two of Keepa’s regulars) may have been excused had they found little to celebrate on April 6, 1853. They had sailed from Liverpool on February 25 – if being tugged by a steamer from the dock to the middle of the Mersey and casting anchor for a fair wind could be called “sailing.” Three days later, they were pulled by a steamer 20 miles out into the Irish Sea, but the winds remained unfavorable. The winds were contrary for most of the next month, blowing from the west or north-west on most days. The monotony of such unfavorable winds was broken only by the occasional gale, which one time caused much of the luggage to break from its lashings and roll about in the steerage, and another time broke great quantities of pots and tins. The worst may have been the squall that struck on the night of March 26, which “turned the ship nearly on her beam ends.” [For you non-sailors, that means that the vessel rolled until nearly flat on its side.]
The next day, Easter Sunday, the Saints fasted until 4:00 p.m. “in thanksgiving to God for their preservation.” But, a few more days of unfavorable winds led the Captain to recommend that they shorten rations, the six weeks with little progress in their voyage having put them at risk of running out of provisions before arriving at New Orleans.
The difficulties of the voyage did not, however, stop the Saints on the International from celebrating the 23rd anniversary of the organization of the church in grand style. Festivities began with the firing of six rounds of musketry at 9:30 a.m., and the rest of the morning was filled with the taking of the sacrament and the marriages of four couples. After breaking for lunch, the ship’s company convened again at half-past one, filling the afternoon with “the usual services of prayer and praise; songs, speeches, recitations, instrumental music, &c.”
Then came a feast of every delicacy the ship could afford, and of every pastry her cook could invent, after which the Saints met again on deck for dancing and more revelry. The after-party was down in steerage, where the singing and reciting went on into the night.
Perhaps the high point of the celebration was provided by Henry Maiben, a singer and actor from the English seaside resort town of Brighton, who composed an original song for the event, and sang all 10 stanzas, which brought “enthusiastic bursts of applause from the entire company.”
And now, for your enjoyment 157 years later, is Brother Maiben’s song. He sang it (and so can you) to the tune of “Yankee Doodle”.
On board the “International”
All joyful, and lighthearted,
Bound Zionward, four hundred Saints,
From Liverpool we started.
We’er English, Irish, Scotch, and Welsh
Assembled here together;
Resolved to do the will of God,
Whate’er the wind and weather.
Then, sing aloud, ye Saints of God,
In one united chorus;
Old Babylon we’ll leave behind,
For, Zion is before us.
We have a noble President,
You’ll scarce find such an one, Sirs,
He stands near six feet six, in height,
And weighs near twenty stone, Sirs.
But, best of all, he’s full of love,
He’s frank, and open-hearted;
And as sincere as any that
From Bab’lon has departed.
Now, Elder Arthur’s counselors
(I wish you all to know it)
Are, Elder Lyon (from Glasgow),
The celebrated Poet;
And, Elder Richard Waddington,
(From London’s famous city)
Who’s been sick almost all the way,
Which has drawn forth our pity.
And Elders are appointed to
Take charge of wards and sections,
And do all things according to
The President’s directions.
Thus ev’ry regulations made
Which is found to be needed;
So that, there’s not a soul on board
Whose welfare is unheeded.
Then, of such fact, or incident
That’s worthy of remark here;
We have a faithful record kept,
By Elder Sims, our clerk here.
Amongst which you’ll find, two deaths, five bi[rths,]
And twenty-five baptisms.
Likewise (to-day) four marriages,
But no such thing as schisms.
The Captain’s name is “David Brown,”
My muse cannot refuse its
Verse, in reference to him;
He comes from Massachusetts.
Of course, he is “tarnation ‘cute,”
Yet, he is honest, “rather,”
And must, ere long, become a Saint,
And serve our Heav’nly Father.
The first mate’s name is “Alfred Howes,”
The second mate’s “Arch. Campbell,”
The third mate’s is “John Marston,” and
Then, comes a sort of scramble:
That is to say, a motley crew,
Called sailors, or ship-riggers;
Amounting to about eighteen,
Swedes, Germans, Dutch, and Niggers.
The Captain’s “Steward, and his wife,”
Next call forth our attention;
Then “Richard Foulton” Captain’s cook,
I can’t omit to mention.
And last (not least) the carpenter,
“Calle Westerlind,” a Swede, Sirs,
The first of the ship’s company
T’ embrace our Holy Creed, Sirs.
We’ve been on board five weeks and more,
And have endured much sickness;
We’ve also had headwinds and storms,
T’ impede the vessels quickness.
Yet, we have cause, and do rejoice,
Thanks to the God of Heaven!
For unto us, his blessings have
Abundantly been given.
To-day’s the 6th of April, and
We now, are celebrating
The glorious anniversary,
With gladness unabating.
And who? that could but witness now,
Our festive, happy faces;
But would obey the Truth, to share
The joy our Faith embraces.