midi file, text, and information  courtesy of Leslie Nelson-Burns at http://www.contemplator.com/sea/index.html

For the lyrics and tune version of Leave Her, Johnny that the crew of SSS YORKSHIRE sings in public, click here (Leave Her, Johnny - PDF) for PDF format.  For Microsoft Word version, click here (Leave Her, Johnny - DOC).  Both versions have a graphic from Hugill's book, Shanties from the Seven Seas, and more history of this particular shantey.

Oh, I thought I heard the Ol' Man say,
Leave her, Johnny, Leave her!
Tomorrow ye will get your pay,
An it's time for us to leave her!

The work wuz hard an' the voyage wuz long,
Leave her, Johnny, Leave her!
The sea was high an' the gales wuz strong.
An it's time for us to leave her!

The wind was foul an' the sea ran high,
Leave her, Johnny, Leave her!
She shipped it green an' none went by.
An it's time for us to leave her!

The grub was bad an' the wages low,
Leave her, Johnny, Leave her!
But now once more ashore we'll go.
An it's time for us to leave her!

Oh, our Old Man he don't set no sail,
Leave her, Johnny, Leave her!
We'd be better off in a nice clean gaol.
An it's time for us to leave her!

We'd be better off in a nice clean gaol,
Leave her, Johnny, Leave her!
With all night in an' plenty o' ale.
An it's time for us to leave her!

She's poverty stricken a' parish-rigged,
Leave her, Johnny, Leave her!
The bloomin' crowd is fever-stricked.
An it's time for us to leave her!

Oh, sing that we boys will never be
Leave her, Johnny, Leave her!
In a hungry bitch the likes o' she.
An it's time for us to leave her!

The mate was a bucko an' the Old Man a Turk,
Leave her, Johnny, Leave her!
The bosun wuz a beggar with the middle name o' Work.
An it's time for us to leave her!

The Old Man swears an' the mate swears too,
Leave her, Johnny, Leave her!
The crew all swears and so would you.
An it's time for us to leave her!

It's growl yer may an' go yer must,
Leave her, Johnny, Leave her!
It matters not whether yer last or fust.
An it's time for us to leave her!

The winds wuz foul, all work, no pay [play]
Leave her, Johnny, Leave her!
To Liverpool Docks from 'Frisco Bay.
An it's time for us to leave her!

The ship won't steer, nor stay, nor wear,
Leave her, Johnny, Leave her!
An' so us shellbacks learnt to swear.
An it's time for us to leave her!

She will not wear, nor steer, nor stay,
Leave her, Johnny, Leave her!
Her sails an' gear all carried away.
An it's time for us to leave her!

We wuz made to pump all night an' day,
Leave her, Johnny, Leave her!
An' we half-dead had beggar-all to say.
An it's time for us to leave her!

We'll leave her tight an' we'll leave her trim,
Leave her, Johnny, Leave her!
We'll heave the hungry barstard in.
An it's time for us to leave her!

Oh, leave her, Johnny, an' we'll work no more,
Leave her, Johnny, Leave her!
Of pump or drown we've had full store.
An it's time for us to leave her!

Leave her, Johnny, an' we'll leave her with a grin,
Leave her, Johnny, Leave her!
There's many a worser we've sailed in.
An it's time for us to leave her!

The sails is furled an' our work is done,
Leave her, Johnny, Leave her!
An now ashore we'll have our bit o' fun.
An it's time for us to leave her!

We'll make her fast an' stow our gear,
Leave her, Johnny, Leave her!
The gals are a-waitin' on the pier.
An it's time for us to leave her!

Leave her, Johnny, ye can leave her like a man,
Leave her, Johnny, Leave her!
Oh, leave her, Johnny, oh, leave her while yer can.
An it's time for us to leave her!

Now I thought I heard the Old Man say,
Leave her, Johnny, Leave her!
One more good heave an' then belay.
An it's time for us to leave her!

Other verses:

A rantin' mate an' a bully skipper too,
Leave her, Johnny, Leave her!
On a leakin' ship an' a rotten, harping crew.
An it's time for us to leave her!

We're all of us old an' we're weak n' sad,
Leave her, Johnny, Leave her!
Since we first joined this ruddy wooden-clad
[iron-clad].
An it's time for us to leave her!

Mahogany beef an' weevils in our bread,
Leave her, Johnny, Leave her!
We wisht old Crackerhash Joe wuz dead.
An it's time for us to leave her!

Oh, Capen, now ye are gonna lose yer crew,
Leave her, Johnny, Leave her!
We've had enough of the ship, the grub an you.
An it's time for us to leave her!

The "her" being left is not a woman, but the ship. This shanty was traditionally sung when the ship was at port after it had docked in the final spell at the pumps. Stan Hugill traces its origins to a shanty, Across the Rockies, which was sung on Western Ocean packets, possibly as early as the time of the Potato Famine.

The shanty was also known as Leave Her Bullies, Time for Us to Leave Her, Leave Her. Johnny is also spelled Johnnie in several versions.

Leave Her, Johnny was used at the pumps, but it also served the purpose of the seamen airing their grievances (hence it being done at the end of a voyage). There were several versions directed at the food and the owners which cannot be printed here.

Cecil Sharp related the shanty to I'm Seventeen Come Sunday and William Doerflinger noted similarities to the ballad Twa Sisters.

The music is from Fifty Sailor's Songs or Chanties, the lyrics are from Stan Hugill.

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This page is from the website of SSS YORKSHIRE - Sea Scout Ship 25, York, PA, USA - http://ship25bsa.org