Danny Boy

Words by F. E. Weatherly, Music Traditional, 1910 | Roud 23565, Ballad Index FSWB323


Oh, Danny boy, the pipes, the pipes are calling
From glen to glen, and down the mountainside
The summer’s gone, and all the roses falling
It’s you, it’s you must go and I bide
But come ye back when summer’s in the meadow
Or when the valley’s hushed and white with snow
And I’ll be here in sunrise or in shadow
Oh, Danny boy, oh, Danny boy, I love you so

But if ye come, and all the flowers dying
And I am dead, as dead I well may be
Then you will find the place where I am lying
And kneel and say an ave there for me
And I shall feel, though soft you tread above me
And all my grave will richer, sweeter be
And you will bend and tell me that you love me
And I shall rest in peace until you come to me

Lyrics - My Gentle Harp

Written by Thomas Moore (1779-1852)

My gentle Harp, once more I waken
The sweetness of thy slumbering strain;
In tears our last farewell was taken,
And now in tears we meet again.
No light of joy hath o’er thee broken,
But, like those harps whose heavenly skill
Of slavery, dark as thine, hath spoken,
Thou hang’st upon the willows still.

And yet, since last thy chord resounded,
An hour of peace and triumph came,
And many an ardent bosom bounded
With hopes — that now are turn’d to shame.
Yet even then, while Peace was singing
Her halcyon song o’er land and sea,
Though joy and hope to others bringing,
She only brought new tears to thee.

Then, who can ask for notes of pleasure,
My drooping Harp, from chords like thine?
Alas, the lark’s gay morning measure
As ill would suit the swan’s decline!
Or how shall I, who love, who bless thee,
Invoke thy breath for Freedom’s strains,
When even the wreaths in which I dress thee
Are sadly mix’d — half flowers, half chains?

But come — if yet thy frame can borrow
One breath of joy, oh, breathe for me,
And show the world, in chains and sorrow,
How sweet thy music still can be;
How gaily, even ‘mid gloom surrounding,
Thou yet canst wake at pleasure’s thrill —
Like Memnon’s broken image sounding,
‘Mid desolation tunefull still!

Lyrics - Acushla Mine

Written by Tom O’Sullivan. I can’t find much about Tom, but the song was at least around before the 1980s, as it is mentioned in John Loesburg’s 1980 collection Folksongs and Ballads Popular in Ireland, Vol. 2

Acushla, mine, the singing birds are calling
The call of love, that’s meant for lovers true
‘Tis Autumn time, and where the leaves are falling
Alone I wait, to beg a word with you
‘Tis of my love, my love I would be pleading
Around my heart, your fingers you entwine
The birds above, they know how much I’m needing
One little word to bid me hope, Acushla, mine

Acushla, mine, your lips are ever smiling
They smiled their way into my longing heart
Your roguish eyes to me are so beguiling
I pray the Saints, that never we may part
When Winter comes, and all the world is dreary
And sun and stars no longer seem to shine
The world is dark, and I am sad and weary
‘Tis then I need you most of all, Acushla, mine

Acushla, mine, when birds again are singing
Their mating song, and all the land is gay
When, at the church, the wedding bells are ringing
Mavourneen, dear, ’twill be a happy day
And through the years no matter what the weather
Around my heart, your love will still entwine
We’ll wander on, as long as we’re together
And wander into Paradise, Acushla, mine

Lyrics - Love's Wishes
Words by Alfred Perceval Graves (1846-1931) as found in his book Irish Songs and Ballads (1880)

Would I were Erin’s apple-blossom o’er you
Or Erin’s rose in all its beauty blown
To drop my richest petals down before you
Within the garden where you walk alone
In hope you’d turn and pluck a little posy
With loving fingers through my foliage pressed
And kiss it close and set it blushing rosy
To sigh out all its sweetness on your breast

Would I might take the pigeon’s flight towards you
And perch beside your window-pane above
And murmur how my heart of hearts it hoards you,
O hundred thousand treasures of my love
In hope you’d stretch your slender hand and take me
And smooth my wildly-fluttering wings to rest
And lift me to your loving lips and make me
My bower of blisses in your loving breast

Lyrics - Would God I Were the Tender Apple Blossom
Written by Katherine Tynan (1861-1931). Published by Oliver Ditson Company in 1915, but is most likely older.

Would God I were the tender apple blossom
That floats and falls from off the twisted bough
To lie and faint within your silken bosom
Within your silken bosom as that does now
Or would I were a little burnish’d apple
For you to pluck me, gliding by so cold
While sun and shade your robe of lawn will dapple
Your robe of lawn, and your hair’s spun gold

Yea, would to God I were among the roses
That lean to kiss you as you float between
While on the lowest branch a bud uncloses
A bud uncloses, to touch you, queen
Nay, since you will not love, would I were growing
A happy daisy, in the garden path
That so your silver foot might press me going
Might press me going even unto death

Lyrics - In Derry Vale
Written by W. G. Rothery

In Derry Vale, beside the singing river
So oft I strayed, ah, many years ago
And culled at morn the golden daffodillies
That came with Spring to set the world aglow
Oh, Derry Vale, my thoughts are ever turning
To your broad stream and fairy-circled lea
For your green isles my exiled heart is turning
So far away across the sea

In Derry Vale, amid the Foyle’s dark waters
The salmon leap above the surging weir
The seabirds call – I still can hear them calling
In night’s long dreams of those so dear
Oh, tarrying years, fly faster, ever faster
I long to see the vale belov’d so well
I long to know that I am not forgotten
And there at home in peace to dwell

Lyrics - The Golden Shore of Far-Away
Written by George Sigerson and set to the Londonderry Air by T. R. G. Jozé. Lyrics are as published in The Golden Treasury of Irish Songs and Lyrics, Vol. 2 by Charles Welsh in 1907.

As chimes that flow o’er shining seas
When Morn alights on meads of May
Faint voices fill the western breeze
With whisp’ring songs from Far-Away
Oh, dear the dells of Dunanore
A home is odorous Ossory
But sweet as honey, running o’er
The Golden Shore of Far-Away

There grows the Tree whose summer breath
Perfumes with joy the azure air
And he who feels it fears not Death
Nor longer heeds the hounds of Care
Oh, soft the skies of Seskinore
And mild is meadowy Meilaray
But sweet as honey, running o’er
The Golden Shore of Far-Away

There sings the Voice whose wondrous tune
Falls, like diamond-showers above
That in the radiant dawn of June
Renew a world of Youth and Love
Oh, fair the founts of Farranfore,
And bright is billowy Ballintrae
But sweet as honey, running o’er
The Golden Shore of Far-Away !

Come, Fragrance of the Flowering Tree
Oh, sing, sweet Bird, thy magic lay
Till all the world be young with me
And Love shall lead us far away
Oh, dear the dells of Dunanore
A home is odorous Ossory
But sweet as honey, running o’er
The Golden Shore of Far-Away

Lyrics - O Mary Dear
Written by John McCormack. Recorded in 1929 (BVE-56188).

Oh, Mary Dear, a cruel fate has parted us
I’ll hide my grief, e’en though my heart should break
Farewell my love, may God be always with you
I love you so, I’d die for your dear sake
But you’ll come back to me my sad heart whispers
You’ll come with Summer’s flowers or Winter’s snow
And I’ll be there to wait if God will spare me
And with the years my love will deeper, greater grow

Oh, Mary Dear, the years are lone and dreary
And yet you come not back my heart to cheer
My eyes grow dim, my path of life’s near ended
When death shall come, in spirit, Love, be near
Remember then my soul’s great adoration
Shed one sad tear, that all the world may see
Breathe one short prayer, that I may know you love me
And still be waiting, Mary, when you come to me

Lyrics - I Cannot Tell
A hymn written c. 1920 by Rev. William Young Fullerton (1857-1932), a Baptist preacher, administrator, and writer.

I cannot tell why he, whom angels worship
Should set his love upon the sons of men
Or why, as Shepherd, he should seek the wanderers
To bring them back, they know not how or when
But this I know, that he was born of Mary
When Bethl’em’s manger was his only home
And that he lived at Nazareth and laboured
And so the Saviour, Saviour of the world, is come

I cannot tell how silently he suffered
As with his peace he graced this place of tears
Or how his heart upon the cross was broken
The crown of pain to three and thirty years
But this I know, he heals the broken-hearted
And stays our sin and calms our lurking fear
And lifts the burden from the heavy laden
For still the Saviour, Saviour of the world is here

I cannot tell how he will win the nations
How he will claim his earthly heritage
How satisfy the needs and aspirations
Of east and west, of sinner and of sage
But this I know, all flesh shall see his glory
And he shall reap the harvest he has sown
And some glad day his sun will shine in splendour
When he the Saviour, Saviour of the world, is known

I cannot tell how all the lands shall worship
When at his bidding every storm is stilled
Or who can say how great the jubilation
When every heart with love and joy is filled
But this I know, the skies will thrill with rapture
And myriad myriad human voices sing
And earth to heav’n, and heav’n to earth, will answer
‘At last the Saviour, Saviour of the world, is King!’

Lyrics - I Love Thee So
A hymn written in 1930 by Leonard A. Gordon found in the hymnal Praise for the Lord.

My Savior dear, I love thee, O I love thee
For Thou hast made my blinded eyes to see
Redeemed by soul upon the cross of Calv’ry
And from the bonds of sin hath made me free

I now am happy in Thy loving favor
I would that others this great love should know
I’ll praise Thy name thro’out the endless ages
My Savior dear, my Savior dear, I love thee so

When stormy clouds of doubt and sin were raging
And I was tossed upon the sea of life
You whispered peace and every wave obeyed Thee
You gave me power to conquer every strife

I now am happy in Thy loving favor
I would that others this great love should know
I’ll praise Thy name thro’out the endless ages
My Savior dear, my Savior dear, I love thee so

My Savior dear, how can I e’er repay Thee
For Thy great love and sacrifice for me?
I feel, dear Lord, that I am so unworthy
Of Thy atoning blood that made me free

I now am happy in Thy loving favor
I would that others this great love should know
I’ll praise Thy name thro’out the endless ages
My Savior dear, my Savior dear, I love thee so

Lyrics - Above the Hills of Time
A hymn written in 1931 by English Methodist Thomas Tiplady.

Above the hills of time the cross is gleaming
Fair as the sun when night has turned to day
And from it love’s pure light is richly streaming
To cleanse the heart and banish sin away
To this dear cross the eyes of men are turning
Today as in the ages lost to sight
And for Thee, O Christ, men’s hearts are yearning
As shipwrecked seamen yearn for morning light

The cross, O Christ, Thy wondrous love revealing
Awakes our hearts as with the light of morn
And pardon o’er our sinful spirits stealing
Tells us that we, in Thee, have been reborn
Like echoes to sweet temple bells replying
Our hearts, O Lord, make answer to Thy love
And we will love Thee with a love undying
Till we are gathered to Thy home above

Lyrics - O Son of God, Our Captain of Salvation
A hymn written in 1871 by John Ellerton.

O Son of God, our Captain of salvation
thyself by suffering schooled to human grief
we bless thee for thy sons of consolation
who follow in the steps of thee their Chief
Those whom thy Spirit’s dread vocation severs
to lead the vanguard of thy conquering host
whose toilsome years are spent in brave endeavours
to bear thy saving Name from coast to coast

Those whose bright faith makes feeble hearts grow stronger
and sends fresh warriors to the great campaign
bids the lone convert feel estranged no longer
and wins the sundered to be one again
And all true helpers, patient, kind, and skillful
who shed thy light across our darkened earth
counsel the doubting, and restrain the willful
soothe the sick bed, and share the children’s mirth

So Barnabas, the son of consolation
who cast his all at thine apostles’ feet
he whose new name, through every Christian nation
from age to age our thankful strains repeat
Thus, Lord, thy saint in holy memory keeping
still be thy Church’s watchword, “Comfort ye,”
till in our Father’s house shall end our weeping
and all our wants be satisfied in thee

Lyrics - O Son of Man
A hymn written by Frank Fletcher

O, son of man, our hero strong and tender
Whose servants are the brave in all the earth
Our living sacrifice to thee we render
Who sharest all our sorrows, all our mirth
O, feet so strong to climb the path of duty
O, lips divine that taught the words of truth
Kind eyes that marked the lilies in their beauty
And hearts that kindled at the zeal of youth

Lover of children, boyhood’s inspiration
Of all mankind the servant and the King
O, lord of joy and hope and consolation
To Thee our fears and joys and hopes we bring
Not in our failures only and our sadness
We seek Thy presence, Comforter and Friend
O, rich man’s guest, be with us in our gladness
O, poor man’s mate, our lowliest tasks attend

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About the Song:

Being among the most popular songs in the Western, English-speaking world, while being no small feat, is a title that undoubtedly belongs to “Danny Boy.” Lawyer, author, and songwriter Frederic Edward Weatherly, K.C. of Bath, Somerset penned the words in 1910.

It wasn’t until 1912 or 1913 that the song would be set to the melody we all know it by today. Weatherly received a letter from his sister-in-law, Maragaret Enright Weatherly in Ourway, Colorado. She suggested he set the words to the tune “Air from County Derry,” or, “Londonderry Air.” She, according to the Colorado Public Radio 2022 article “Without Ouray, Colorado, There’d Be No ‘Danny Boy’”, learned the tune as a child from her father, who sang it with Irish-American immigrants working on the California railways. Fred made this change without any official recognition of his sister-in-law.

The “Air from County Derry” was first published in 1855 in The Petrie Collection of the Ancient Music of Ireland and came from the playing of Jane Ross (1810-1879) of Limavady, County Londonderry, Northern Ireland. Ms. Ross learned the tune from a traveling fiddler in 1851. While she did not get the name of the tune, but says it is a very old melody. According to Sam Henry in his December 1st, 1923 Songs of the People column, legend has it that the traveling fiddler was blind fiddler James McCurry of Myroe, a small farming hamlet just outside of Limavady. While McCurry is a likely candidate, this is not confirmed.

The song was published with its new melody in 1913 and was given to the incredibly successful English opera singer, Elsie Griffin, who gave it its first raise to fame. In 1918, a version of the sheet music with Weatherly’s signature was published instructing to replace the words “Danny boy” with “Eily, dear” when sung by a man.

For the most complete account of Danny Boy’s history, check out the book In Sunshine and in Shadow: The Family Story of Danny Boy by Weatherly’s grandson, Anthony Mann. Trigger warning: blunt, outdated, and/or insensitive inclusion of talk surrounding mental health and SA.

Melody: Air From County Derry

Other titles: Eily Dear

I learned this song in my classical vocal class in college from Scott Bosscher.