Listen: John Leavitt’s “Danny Boy”

Cliffs of Moher

Cliffs of Moher, County Claire, Ireland

I do love an Irish ballad, and “Danny Boy” is a lovely example. I have for you today a new version by John Leavitt, whose arranging talents, it turns out, are as prodigious as his choir directing, and that’s saying something. (El Guapo and I had the privilege of singing and performing as part of his group of Berklee Singers in Valencia in 2018.)

The words to “Danny Boy” were written in 1910 by Frederic Weatherly, and modified slightly a few years later to fit the Irish tune known as “Londonderry Air.

Here are the Lux Singers, conducted by Leland Spindler, at the premiere earlier this week:


The lyrics to “Danny Boy” that I’ve been able to find online coincide with this recording up to a point. There’s another verse in Leavitt’s version, and I haven’t managed to track it down yet. When I do, I’ll make sure to post it. In the meantime, here are the words that most people will recognize:

O, Danny boy, the pipes, the pipes are calling,
From glen to glen and down the mountain side;
The summer’s gone, and all the roses falling;
‘Tis you, ’tis you must go, and I must bide.

But come ye back when summer’s in the meadow,
Or when the valley’s hushed and white with snow;
‘Tis I’ll be here in sunshine or in shadow;
O Danny boy, O Danny boy, I love you so.

But when ye come and all the flowers are dying,
If I am dead, as dead I well may be,
Ye’ll come and find the place where I am lying,
And kneel and say an “Ave” there for me.

And I shall feel, ‘though soft ye tread upon me,
And all my grave will warmer, sweeter be,
For you’ll bend down and tell me that you love me,
And I shall sleep in peace until you come to me.


Hearing this gives me a powerful urge to get myself into a choir again soon. Thanks, John—I can’t wait to see what you’ve got in the works!


John Leavitt directing a performance of the Berklee Singers in Valencia, Spain

*You’ve already heard from John Leavitt through a poem he wrote that I posted a while back (Somebody should do something about that). We’ll keep an eye out for his future work.


[Images:, Marian Harman, John Leavitt]

2 thoughts on “Listen: John Leavitt’s “Danny Boy”

  1. Pingback: Listen: more “Danny Boy” | Lori Notes

  2. Pingback: The thing that almost always works | Lori Notes

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