Cornish Sea Shanties

Singing is a popular pastime in Cornwall both in bands and in less formal pub surroundings. Singing in Cornish pubs is often a spontaneous event and enjoyed by young and old alike.

Sea shanties were originally a way to keep the men on a ship working to a rhythm or as a team. Not a lot of work takes place nowadays while singing – in fact it is most definitely a social event.

The Fishermen’s Friends, pictured right, are probably the best know group of Cornish Singers.  They can often be seen singing on Friday evenings on the Platt in Port Isaac, but also tour regularly.   Please follow link to visit their website and find out more information about them and their planned performances.

Falmouth now hosts a fabulous International Sea Shanty Festival which takes place in June each year and Mevagissey now hosts the Mevagissey Shanty Festival in October.  For this years dates for these festivals and information on other Cornish Festivals and Regattas taking place around, please see our Festivals Page.

We’ve provided the lyrics to a few Cornish songs below but if you’d like to find more of the lyrics to 64 different Sea Shanties and help the RNLI, please purchase our Charity Songbook…

Charity Songbook

We have a PDF song book for you to download which has the lyrics of many of the songs that are sung around Cornwall.  All proceeds from this download is used to buy equipment for the benefit of the crews of our local RNLI stations.

All proceeds in aid of the RNLI

Please note that this is a PDF computer file that you will receive via email as soon as you complete your purchase.  You will then be able to print out the book at your own convenience

The song book contains a whopping 64 different songs including…

Abide with MeHail to The HomelandRow Boatman Row
Amazing GraceHome For FloraShenandoah
And ‘Tis My Delight’I Had a HorseshoeShoals of Herring
A Soldiers FarewellJacob’s LadderSloop John B
Ballad of Widecombe FairLamornaSong of the Jolly Roger
Black Eyed DollLilly of the ValleySouth Australia
Black Velvet BandLittle Brown JugSpanish Ladies
Brightly BeamsLittle EyesSteal Away
By Cool SiloamMaid of AmsterdamBattle of Jericho
Calm Is The SeaMingulay Boat SongThe Fisherman and his Little Child
Camborne HillMolly MaloneThe Irish Rover
Church in the WildwoodMoonlightThe Lords My Shepherd
Cornish Maggie MayMorte Christi (When I Survey)There is a Green Hill Far Away
Cornish NightingaleMy Grandfathers ClockThe Sailor and His True Love
CumbayahNewquay Fishermans SongTrelawny
Danny BoyOggie LandVive L’Amour
Deep HarmonyOl’ Jonny BuggerWhite Rose
Dinah Wont Blow your HornOld Time ReligionWild Rover
Dirty Old TownPadstow Morning SongWill Your Anchor Hold
Eternal FatherPoor Old JoeWorried Man
Fields of AthenryRio Grande
GwahoddiadRobbers Retreat


Trelawny is also known as ‘The Cornish Anthem’ or ‘The Song of the Western Men’. It was written by Robert Stephen Hawker in 1824. Robert Hawker was a vicar in Morwenstow in North Cornwall.

Robbers Retreat

Robbers Retreat is also known as ‘The Cadgwith Anthem’. The line referring to the beauty of Kashmir is actually referring to a flower.

South Australia