Customs and Traditions

Heart of Oak

Come cheer up my lads, tis to glory we steer,
To add something new to this wonderful year;
Tis to honor we call, you as free men not slaves,
For who are so free as the sons of the waves.

Heart of oak are our ships, jolly tars 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 always see us and they wish us away;
If they run we will follow, we will drive them ashore;
For if they won't fight we can do no more.


They say they'll invaded us, these terrible foes;
Frighten our women, our children, our beaus;
But should their flat-bottoms, in darkness get o'er,
Stout Britons they'll find to defeat them ashore.


Britannia triumphant, her ships rule the seas,
Her watchword is justice, her password is free.
So come cheer up my lads, with one heart let us sing,
Our soldiers, our sailors, our statesmen, our Queen.

(Chorus X2)


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. There is also an American set of lyrics, The Liberty Song.