Sea shanties (singular "shanty", also spelled "chantey"; derived from the French word "chanter", 'to sing') were shipboard working songs. Some speculate that shanties may have been sung as early as the 15th century though there is little evidence to support this claim. The shanties that survived to be collected and preserved date from the 19th century through the days of steam ships in the first half of the 20th century.

In the days when human muscles were the only power source available aboard ship, sea shanties served a practical purpose: the rhythm of the song served to synchronize the movements of the sailors as they toiled at repetitive tasks. They also served a social purpose: singing, and listening to song, is pleasant; it alleviates boredom, and lightens the burden of hard work, of which there was no shortage on long voyages.

Most shanties are "call and response" songs, with one voice (the shantyman) singing the line and the chorus of sailors bellowing the response.

(Alot of other great information on Sea Shanites can be found here.)


All For Me Grog
It's all for me grog, me jolly jolly grog
It's all for me beer and tobacco
I spent all me tin on the ladies drinking gin
It's to the western ocean I did wander

The Bonnie Ship The Diamond
And it's cheer up, me lads
Let your hearts never fail,
For the bonnie ship The Diamond
Goes a-fishing for the whale

Bound For The Rio Grande

Then away, boys, away,
Away down Rio,
So fare thee well, my pretty young girl,
We're bound for the Rio Grande.

Bully In The Alley

Help me, Bob, Im bully in the alley
Way, hey, bully in the alley
Help me, Bob, Im bully in the alley
Bully down in Shinbone Al

Cape Cod Girls

Heave away my bully bully boys
Heave away, heave away
Heave away, why dont you make some noise
Were bound for Australia

The Coasts of High Barbary
Blow high! Blow low! And so sailed we...
A sailing down all on
The coasts of High Barbary

Drunken Sailor
Way, hey, up she rises [3x]
Ear-ly in the morning

Fathom The Bowl
I'll fathom the bowl, I'll fathom the bowl
Give me the punch ladle, I'll fathom the bowl

Haul Away Joe
Way, haul away, well haul away Joe

John Kanakanaka

Too-ri-ay, oh too-ri-ay
John Kanakanaka too-ri-ay

Leave Her, Johnny
Leave her, Johnny, Leave her...
An it's time for us to leave her

Lower The Boat Down
Lower, lower the boat down
Lower your boat down

The Mermaid
Oh the ocean waves do roll (do roll)
And the stormy winds do blow (do blow)
We brave tars are skipping at the top
While the landlubbers lie down below below below
While the landlubbers lie down below

Mingulay Boat Song
Heel ya ho, boys, let her go, boys,
Heave her head round into the weather
Heel ya ho, boys, let her go, boys,
Sailing homeward to Mingulay

Nelson's Blood
And well roll the old chariot along
Well roll the old chariot along
Well roll the old chariot along
And well all hang on behind

Randy Dandy-O
Way, hey, roll an' go
Singing rollickin' randy dandy o

Rolling Down To Old Maui
Rolling down to Old Maui, me boys
Rolling down to Old Maui
We're homeward bound from the Arctic ground
Rolling down to Old Maui.

Santy Anno
So heave er up and away we'll go
Heave away, Santy Anno
Heave er up and away we'll go
All across the plains of Mexico

Spanish Ladies
And we'll rant and we'll roar like New Bedford Whalers
We'll rant and we'll roar on deck and below
Until we sight the New Bedford light
Then straight down the channel to anchor we'll go

Strike The Bell
Strike the bell second mate, let us go below
Look well to windward you can see it's gonna blow
Look at the glass, you can see it has fell
Oh we wish that you would hurry up and strike, strike the bell