drum horn

The NWC Songbook

In this issue, we celebrate songs of the Royal Navy, the jolly jack tars of the "far distant, storm-beaten ships" upon which Britain's very existence hung during the Napoleonic Wars. Yo-heave-ho, me hearties!

Jolly Tars

Heart of Oak, with music by Dr. William Boyce (1711-1779) and words by David Garrick, the greatest British actor of the 18th Century, is the marching song of the Royal Navy and a perennial favorite among Britons.

Heart of Oak

Heart of Oak

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?


Naval Bombardment

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!


Bold Nelson's Praise

Bold Nelson's Praise

Bold Nelson's praise I am going to sing,
(Not forgetting our glorious King)
He always did good tidings bring,
For he was a bold commander.
Nelson There was Sydney Smith and Duncan too,
Lord Howe and all the glorious crew;
They were the men that were true blue,
Full of care, yet I swear
None with Nelson could compare,
Not even Alexander.

Bold Buonaparte he threaten'd war,
A man who fear'd not wound nor scar,
But still he lost at Trafalgar
Where Britain was victorious.
Lord Nelson's actions made him quake,
And all French pow'rs he made to shake;
He said his King he'd ne'er forsake.
These last words thus he spake:
"Stand true, my lads, like hearts of oak,
"And the battle shall be glorious."

Battle of Cape St. Vincent

Lord Nelson bold, though threaten'd wide,
And many a time he had been tried,
He fought like a hero till he died
Amid the battle gory.
But the day was won, their line was broke,
While all around was lost in smoke,
And Nelson he got his death-stroke,
That's the man for old England!
He faced his foe with his sword in hand
And he lived and he died in his glory.

In this sailors' chanty, sometimes entitled simply Boney, British tars give their simplified but admiring version of Napoleon's biography.

Boney Was a Warrior

Boney Was a Warrior

Boney was a warrior
A warrior and a terrier,
John Franswah!

British Naval Cannon

Boney beat the Prooshians,
Boney beat the Rooshians,
John Franswah!

Boney went to Moscow,
Moscow was a-blazing

Boney went to Elbow,
Boney he came back

Boney went to Waterloo,
There he got his overthrow

They took Boney off again,
'Board the Billy Ruffian

Boney he was sent away,
Way to St. Helenay

Boney broke his heart and died,
Boney broke his heart and died,
John Franswah!

Napoleon aboard HMS Bellerophon

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