The Longest Song Wiki

Also commonly referred to as "The Death of Nelson", "On Board a Man o' War", and "The Battle of Trafalgar", this traditional folk song eulogizes the death of Napoleonic era Admiral Horatio Nelson, Lord Nelson. The earliest written record of the song dates to 1891 in Ashton's Real Sailor Songs, but likely dates to shortly after Nelson's death in 1805. The song has been performed by countless folk artists since.


These lyrics are based on the version performed by the Longest Johns in their livestreams. Numerous versions of the lyrics exist, however they most closely resemble those sung by the famed Peter Bellamy, which can be found here.

On the Twenty-First of October, before the rising sun,
We formed the line for action, boys, at twelve o'clock begun
Old Nelson to his men did say: “The Lord'll prosper us this day.
Give them the broadside, fire away!”

On board the man of war.
Let him die in peace, God bless you all
On board the man of war.

From broadside to broadside the cannon balls did fly,
Like hailstones across our deck, the small shots did lie.
Our mast was blown away, Besides some hundreds on that day,
Were killed or wounded in the fray,


But then our great commander, with grief he shook his head:
There is no reprieve, and no relief, old Nelson- he is dead.
It was a fatal musket-ball that caused old Nelson for to fall,
Let him die in peace, God bless you all!

{Chorus til finish}