The Cod Liver Oil Song

by Sarah Other, VideosComments: 39

fermented cod liver oil

Cod liver oil served a very important purpose in the diet of the early settlers of Newfoundland.   In the age before antibiotics, taking one’s daily dose of cod liver oil could mean the difference between life and death if one came down with the flu during Newfoundland’s frigid, windy and sometimes unrelenting winters.

Cod liver oil was traditionally manufactured via curing in the sun which gently fermented the oil over time. The naturally rendered oil was served raw in bottles.

Raw cod liver oil was so important to this rugged, independent culture that popular folk song writer Johnny Burke of St. John’s, Newfoundland wrote a song about it in the 1800’s.  The song proved so enduring that it is considered a Newfoundland traditional folk song.

Below are the lyrics to this fun little tune along with a video of the Canadian folk rock band Great Big Sea performing it (from their album The Hard and the Easy).

If you love your raw, fermented cod liver oil, then feel free to sing along!  You will be laughing by the end I feel quite sure!

Cod Liver Oil Song (Lyrics)

I’m a young married man and I’m tired of life
Ten years I’ve been wed to a pale sickly wife,
She’s nothing to do only sit there and cry
Praying and praying to God she would die.
A friend of my own came to see me one day
He told me my wife she was pining away
He afterwards told me that she would get strong
If I get a bottle from dear Dr John.

Oh doctor, oh doctor, oh dear Dr John
Your cod liver oil is so pure and so strong
I’m afraid of my life, I’ll go down in the soil
If me wife don’t stop drinking your cod liver oil.

I bought her a bottle, well just for to try
And the way that she drank it you’d think she might die
I bought her another, it vanished the same
And then she got cod liver oil on the brain.
I bought her another, she drank it no doubt,
And then she began to get terrible stout,
And when she got stout well of course she got strong
And I became jealous of dear Dr John.

Oh doctor, oh doctor, oh dear Dr John
Your cod liver oil is so pure and so strong
I’m afraid of my life, I’ll go down in the soil
If me wife don’t stop drinking your cod liver oil.

Me house it resembles a great doctor’s shop
Its covered in bottles from bottom to top
Well early the morning the kettle does boil
You would swear it was singing of cod liver oil.

Oh doctor, oh doctor, oh dear Dr John
Your cod liver oil is so pure and so strong
I’m afraid of my life, I’ll go down in the soil
If me wife don’t stop drinking
Oh doctor, oh doctor, oh dear Dr John
Your cod liver oil is so pure and so strong
I’m afraid of my life, I’ll go down in the soil
If me wife don’t stop drinking your cod liver oil.

Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

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