I promised in early June that once I found the lyrics to the new verse of “Danny Boy” featured in this arrangement by my friend John Leavitt I would get them to you. It didn’t take this long to find them (John kindly sent them to me not long afterward), but it did take this long to circle back around, since I had a few things in the queue.
McKay Crockett wrote the lyrics for the last verse that appeared in the Leavitt arrangement, and also arranged the version performed by Vocal Point, an a cappella group from Brigham Young University. You can go back and hear the premiere from my earlier post, or listen to Vocal Point below. The full lyrics follow the video.
O 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.
‘Tis you, ’tis you must go and I must bide.
But come ye back when summer’s in the meadow,
Or all 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.
When winter’s come and all the flow’rs are dying,
And I am dead, as dead I well may be,
You’ll come and find the place where I am lying
And kneel and say an “Ave” there for me.
But I shall hear, though soft you tread above me,
And all my grave shall warmer, sweeter be.
And you will bend and tell me that you love me;
And I shall sleep in peace until you come to me.
O Danny Boy, the stream flows cool and slowly;
And pipes still call and echo ‘cross the glen.
Your broken mother sighs and feels so lowly,
For you have not returned to smile again.
So if you’ve died and crossed the stream before us,
We pray that angels met you on the shore;
And you’ll look down, and gently you’ll implore us
To live so we may see your smiling face once more.
There are a few ways to interpret the original words to the ballad, and this last verse adds another—it sounds to me like a father singing to a son he fears to lose. Since the verse was written recently, there aren’t really mists of time behind which the meaning might be hiding, but though I know John Leavitt, I don’t know McKay Crockett to be able to ask him.
We don’t know, of course, but picturing a son gone off to war would certainly fit right in with many an Irish ballad. And it would also provide the opportunity for this illustration of Irish War Pipes:
The wikipedia caption says “it is safe to assume that the artist did not copy any actual Irish instrument.” What pipes do you picture when you hear that the pipes are calling?
[Images: Rebecca White on Pinterest, Wikipedia]