Hearts of Oak

"Hearts of Oak" was written in 1759. The music was by Dr. William Boyce and the words were written by David Garrick. The song began as a celebration of the year when Great Britain won the battles of Quebec and Quiberon Bay as well as several other successful naval engagements. It was used in a ballad opera. It was later adapted by John Dickinson in America and called "The Liberty Song". But long after "The Liberty Song" was forgotten, "Hearts of Oak" continued to be sung especially to celebrate victories by the Royal Navy. It was finally adopted as the official march of the Royal Navy. The song and lyrics have found their way into the consciousness of modern writers of Naval Adventure. Alexander Kent named one of his novels, "To Glory We Steer", and Patrick O'Brian references it more than once in his twenty books which have come to be known as the Aubrey/Maturin series.

Come cheer up my Lads, 'tis to glory we steer,
To add something more to this wonderful year.
To honour we call you, as freemen, not slaves,
For who are so free as the sons of the waves?

Heart of oak are our ships, jolly tars are our men,
We always are ready, Steady, boys, steady,
We'll fight and we'll conquer again and again!

We ne'er see our foes but we wish them to stay,
They never see us but they wish us away.
If they run, why, we follow and run them ashore,
For if they won't fight us, we cannot do more.


They swear they'll invade us, these terrible foes;
They frighten women, children, and beaus,
But should their flat bottoms in darkness get o'er,
Still Britons they'll find to receive them on shore.


We'll still make them fear, and we'll still make them flee,
And drub 'em on shore as we've drubb'd 'em at sea,
Then cheer up my lads, with one hear let us sing,
Our Soldiers, our Sailors, our Statesmen, our King.


We'll still make 'em run, and we'll still make 'em sweat,
In spite of the Devil and Brussels Gazette,
Then cheer up my lads, with one heart let us sing,
Our Soldiers, our Sailors, our Statesmen, our King.

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