HUDDERSFIELD

No. 11 AREA

 Heart of Oak

Heart of Oak History

"Heart of Oak" is the official march of the Royal Navy. It is also the official march of several Commonwealth navies including the Royal Canadian Navy, the Royal Australian Navy and the Royal New Zealand Navy.

The music was composed by Dr William Boyce, and the words were written by the 18th Century English actor David Garrick. Heart of Oak was originally written as an opera. It first saw the light of day on New Year's Eve, 1759 sung by Samuel Thomas Champnes, grandson of John Weldon in one of the first pantomimes "Harlequin's Invasion" at the Garrick Theatre.

The "wonderful year" referenced in the first verse is 1759-60, during which British forces were victorious in several significant battles: the Battle of Minden on 01 August, 1759; the Battle of Lagos on 19 August, 1759; the battle of Quebec City on 13 September, 1759; and the Battle of Quiberon Bay on 20 November, 1759, foiling a French invasion project. These were followed a few months later by the Battle of Wandiwash in India on 22 January, 1760. Britain's continued success in the war boosted the song's popularity.

The oak in the song's title refers to the wood from which British warships were traditionally made in the age of sail.
Heart of Oak Lyrics

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.

(Chorus sung once...)
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,
And if they won't fight us, what cannot do more.

(Chorus sung once...)

We still make them feel and we still make them flee,
And drub them at shore as we drub them at sea;
So cheer up me lads with one heart let us sing,
Oh soldiers and sailors, our statesmen and king.

(Chorus sung once...)


The music to Heart of Oak was by Dr. William Boyce (1711-1779). The English words were written by the famous actor David Garrick (1716-1779) in 1759. Garrick is also credited with the theatrical blessing, "Break a Leg" as he was reportedly so involved in his performance of Richard III that he did not notice the pain of a fracture he incurred.


[back to Naval Traditions]