“Get Up, Jack! John, Sit Down!”


A song of the eternal tasks of the sailor, repeated from generation to generation. The sailors all enjoy their rum, find girls in the towns, get drunk, spend their money, and have to return to sea, as their fathers did before him.


Reportedly written by Edward Harrigan and his father-in-law David Braham for the play "Old Lavender," which is listed as premiering September 1, 1885. (Information supplied by Philip Harrigan Sheedy.) The song has since entered oral tradition, as known versions exhibit significant variations. - DGE, RBW

The song has cross-fertilized with "Outward and Homeward Bound"; it may be that that was the inspiration for this song.

For background on Harrigan and Braham, see the notes to "Babies on Our Block." - RBW

Cross references


  • Stanley Baby, "Homeward Bound" (on GreatLakes1)
  • Lena Bourne Fish, "Jolly Rocing Tar" (on USWarnerColl01)


  1. Warner 71, "The Jolly Roving Tar" (1 text, 1 tune)
  2. Lomax-FSNA 33, "Get Up, Jack" (1 text, 1 tune)
  3. Lomax-ABFS, pp. 493-494, "Get Up, Jack! John, Sit Down!" (1 text)
  4. ADDITIONAL: Captain John Robinson, "Songs of the Chantey Man," a series published July-August 1917 in the periodical _The Bellman_ (Minneapolis, MN, 1906-1919). "We're Homeward Bound" is in Part 4, 8/4/1917.
  6. Roud #2807
  7. BI, Wa071


Alternate titles: “Outward Bound”
Author: Words: Edward Harrigan / Music: David Braham
Earliest date: 1885 ("Old Lavender")
Keywords: sailor work drink
Found in: US(MA,NE)