Naming Swan Arcade, who recorded it for the Voices CD released through Fellside, as his source for this jon says, “A great shanty this, and a useful way out if a singing session starts taking an excessively religious dimension.” I can only guess, but suspect having such a jolly little safety valve as this up your sleeve might well prove very handy. A couple of quick notes on this as I’m curious as to what Noah’s Ark was doing in Frisco Bay anyway and there’s a suggestion on Mudcat that “the bull put his horn through the side,” rather than arm makes sense. With this being a shanty there are probably countless variants as far as the lyrics go, some presumably made up on the spot. As such it’s hard to be definitive in any way about this and indeed I couldn’t find anything especially pertinent on the source. I’ll simply refer you to Reinhard’s Mainly Norfolk for the Swan Arcade sleeve notes, that refer in turn to this as “an aetiological work song,” and I guess (although I had to look that up), that it could be subtitled in a Kipling-esque-Just-So way as ‘How the dog got it’s nose.’ Mudcat gives the lyrics here and you can, as always, explore further at will.
Noah’s Ark Shanty