A sea shanty - sung by the sailors of the British navy. In the C.S. Forester or Patrick O'Brian books about the naval battles of the wars with Napoleon, the sailors often sing Heart of Oak to get their courage up before a battle.

Note: it's not "hearts of oak", it's "heart". The heart of the oak is famously tough wood used in ship building.

Heart of Oak

Words by David Garrick, 1759
Music by Dr. William Boyce

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

Heart of oak are our ships,
heart of oak 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 our women, our 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 heart let us sing:
Our soldiers, our sailors, our statesmen and King.


Alternate lyrics: Our worthy forefathers, let's give them a cheer
To climates unknown did courageously steer
Through oceans to deserts, for freedom they came
And dying, bequeathed us their freedom and fame

**flat bottoms refers to the Dutch, who in 1667 came up the Thames and the Medway to invade England. The Dutch used flat-bottomed boats from the 16th to 19th centuries for coastal shipping.

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