The Tabernacle Choir Blog

"Danny Boy": The History and Lyrics

“Danny Boy” is a popular ballad that was written in 1910. Many people associate the song with Ireland, even though lyricist Frederic Weatherly was a British lawyer. The connection came when his Irish-born sister-in-law sent him a copy of the tune “Londonderry Air” in 1913. Upon receiving it, Weatherly modified his lyrics to fit the meter of the tune.

“Londonderry Air” was discovered by Jane Ross in 1851 when she heard a traveling fiddler playing on the street of Limavady, Ireland. Ross asked if she could notate the music for her friend in Dublin who was trying to preserve the ancient music of Ireland. A video on the history of the song states, “Sadly [Ross] did not note the fiddler’s name, and he may forever remain anonymous.”

Throughout the years “Danny Boy” has been considered an unofficial anthem by Irish Americans and Irish Canadians. It became popular for funerals and memorial services despite not being an official part of the ceremony and was even banned from funeral masses by some churches. A retired Irish American police officer, Charlie McKenna, from Rhode Island said, “I want ‘Danny Boy’ sung at my funeral mass, and if it isn’t, I’m going to get up and walk out.”

A recent hit song, “You Raise Me Up,” which was popularized by Josh Groban, has been said to have a strong resemblance to “Danny Boy” in parts of the melody, demonstrating the song’s staying power and influence.

In 2009, during the Central U.S. Tour, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir performed “Danny Boy” at the famed Red Rocks Amphitheater in Colorado. It was recently posted to the Choir’s YouTube channel and is quickly gaining popularity among viewers. Watch “Danny Boy” live at Red Rocks.

“Danny Boy” Lyrics

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 must bide.

But come ye back when summer's in the meadow,

Or when the valley's hushed and white with snow,

It's I'll be here in sunshine or in shadow,

Oh, Danny Boy, oh 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 hear, though soft you tread above me,

And all my grave will warmer, sweeter be,

For you will bend and tell me that you love me,

And I shall sleep in peace until you come to me!

And I shall sleep in peace until you come to me!

Come to me!