The Eton Boating Song was first performed either in 1863 or 1865 ~ sources differ ~ for Eton College’s annual Open Day, known as the ‘Fourth of June’, even though it does not often occur on that date. The boys row towards picnicking visitors, then stand up, raise their oars vertically, remove their straw hats and shake flowers into the river ~ unless they have already capsized, that is!
The tune is very catchy and stirring, and it has been known for alternative lyrics to be written for various communal gatherings. The original lyrics, which begin with “Jolly boating weather”, were written by an Eton master and poet, William Johnson Cory (1823-92) and the music was composed by Captain Algernon Drummond (1844-1932). It has eight stanzas but only four are generally sung.
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