"Heart of Oak" is the official march of the Royal Navy of the United Kingdom. It is also the official march of the Canadian Navy, as well as the Canadian Forces' Naval Operations Branch.
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. The "wonderful year" referenced in the first verse is 1759-60, during which British forces were victorious in several significant battles: 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 songs popularity.
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...)
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