Tom Lewis wrote the tune and the words of the verses. The origins of the chorus are less certain, but can be regarded as traditional. Tom is quoted as saying that he found it as a verse cited as "traditional" in the book "Send Down a Dove" by Charles MacHardy which was first published in 1968. Mudcat sources reveal a similar song sung by a 20th century Australian seaman (with a similar tune) and some interesting slightly older Irish variants:
O Lord above, send down a dove
Unto of us poor craters (creatures)
Send us mate (meat) that we can ate (eat)
And send us plenty praters.
O God above, send down a dove
Unto of us poor craters
To cut the throats of the English dogs
That murdered our brave Sinn Feiners.
A toast quoted in the Bristol Mercury in 1830 has the same sentiments:
May God above, send down his love,
With swords as sharp as sickles,
To cut the throats of gentlefolks,
Who grudge poor men their victuals!!!
Sailor's Prayer (Tom Lewis/Traditional)
dirty town has been my home
lord above, send down a dove
off m' 'score' and then ashore,
With m' new-found friends, m'
With m' payoff gone, and clothes in pawn
the crimp comes round I'll take
Well it's one last trip from port I'll