Heart of Oak

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{album, band, music}
{war, force, army}
{son, year, death}
{land, century, early}
{god, call, give}
{film, series, show}

"Heart of Oak" is the official march of the Royal Navy of the United Kingdom. It is also the official march of several Commonwealth navies including the Canadian Navy that was established in 1910 as the Canadian Naval Service and was from 1911 until 1968 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 1st of 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. The phrase "hearts of oak" appears in The Aeneid.



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 never see the French but we wish them to stay,
They always see us and they wish us away;
If they run, we will follow, we will drive them ashore,
And if they won't fight, we can do no more.

(Chorus sung once...)

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.

(Chorus sung once...)

[Verse sometimes omitted]
Britannia triumphant, her ships sweep the sea,
Her standard is Justice—her watchword, 'be free.'
Then cheer up, my lads, with one heart let us sing,
Our soldiers, our sailors, our statesmen, and king.

(Final Chorus sung twice...)

In popular culture

In the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Allegiance", an alien double of Capt. Jean-Luc Picard leads his crew in singing this song, much to their surprise.

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