Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Lullaby: I See the Moon

Photo by Jamelah.
On Monday night, driving home from the studio, the skies were completely clear, and there was the most beautiful, just-past-full moon. It got me humming one of my favorite lullabies, "I See the Moon."

This old song has gone through many variations, and transformations (including the well-known rhyme I see the moon and the moon sees me/God bless the moon and God bless me) but according to Mudcat, one of my favorite sources of information about traditional music, the closest to "original" goes like this:

I see the moon and the moon sees me
Down through the leaves of the old oak tree
Please let the light that shines on me
Shine on the one I love
I love this song, not only because of the melody (which is on one hand very pretty and sing-songy, and on the other hand, very melancholy), but also because of these lyrics. They're so simple and true. When we're far away from someone we love, we try to look for the little things that connect us. It's somehow comforting to remember that the same moon that's shining on me as I go to sleep will be shining on you when you go to sleep, even if you are hundreds of miles away.

Kids, especially, get this. I've used this song in some of my workshops for kids, and they immediately have a list of distant friends and relatives they want to sing this song to. It's relevant to their lives.

And that, of course, is the coolest thing about a song like this. It was written in a completely different century, and it is still immediate and relevant to our lives.

You can listen to or download a free mp3 of my version of "I See the Moon", and read the full lyrics in the Listening Room at SongwritingForKids.com.

You can also click here to listen to the Stargazers hit musi-comedy version from the 1950's. This is the first version I ever heard of "I See the Moon," and it is certainly an experience. I came across this impassioned post from the blog Popular on FreakyTrigger.co.uk where Tom Ewing reviews every #1 single ever to hit the UK pop charts (he's currently up to 1972). His word for the Stargazers version: excruciating. Well, let's see what you think...

16 comments:

belkowta said...

I never believed that typing "I see the moon and the moon sees me" into Google search would have brought me exactly the information I needed, namely the original words to this song. I didn't even know about the variation, but this is the way I was taught it as a baby. Thank you.

Enjoy! Tom B

Josephine Cameron said...

I'm so glad it was helpful!

ohbabyo said...

I also found this post via google. I sing this to my son all the time (has an instant calming effect), but I only knew the first couple of lines. After reading a few variations, I like this best! Thanks so much!

Theresa said...

My Dad used to sing this to me in the car at night. I sing to both my kids the same words he sang to me which are:

I see the moon and the moon see's me
Way up above the old oak tree
please let the light that shines on me
shine on the one I love

Over the mountain and over the sea
back where my heart is longing to be
please let the light that shines on me
shine on the one I love

Anonymous said...

My mom taught us a slightly different version which we often sang in the car on rides home at night.

I see the moon, the moon sees me.
I see the moon over yonder tree.
Oh, let the light that shines on me, shine on the one I love.

Over the mountains, over the sea, that's where my heart is longing to be. Oh, let the light that shines on me, shine on the one I love.

April said...

My mom taught my nephew this version and it's one I sing to my daughter when we're outside watching the moon.

I see the moon and the moon sees me
Shining bright for all to see
God bless the moon and God bless me
And God bless the ones I love

Anonymous said...

I see the moon, the moon sees me.
The moon sees the one I long to see.
God bless the moon and God bless me
And God bless the one I long to see.

It seems to me that God above
Created you for me to love
He picked you out from all the rest
Because he knew I'dd love to me.

It is my joy in life to find
At every turning of the road
The st5rong arm of a comrade kind
To help me onward with my load

And since I have no gold to give
Then love alone must make amends
My only pirayer that why I live
God make me worthy of my friends.


These are the words I know and love. My parents sang them to us in the car. We sang them to our children every night of their lives. I sang it to my mother as she lay dying. My daught completely undid me by singing it to me at her wedding. I sing it to my brand new granddaughter. It IS a part of my life's fabric.

Mystikan said...

This is most similar to the one I remember as a child back in the 70s. The version I was taught was, "I see the moon / The moon sees me / Under the shade of the old apple tree / Please let the light that shines on me / Shine on the one I love." We used to sing it in the car on long trips, along with loads of other "old-time music-hall" type songs.

The modern christianised version (quoted by some of the other commenters here)that seems to be the only version on YouTube, also has a different melody as well as different words. If someone has links to a video or sound file of the original I'd be most obliged.

Josephine Cameron said...

Hi Mystikan. I recorded a traditional version of the tune. Is this the melody you remember? (The last song on the list): http://songwritingforkids.com/music-group-2.html

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
agnostic atheist said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Josephine Cameron said...

Sorry, anonymous, for deleting your comment. I appreciate your point, but I don't allow hostile language on my blog. Also, to Agnostic Atheist, this thread is devoted to the history of "I See the Moon" and the various versions people know. Please keep comments to the topic at hand.

Bo Bävertoft said...

I still remember this song (with The Stargazers) because it was the signature tune for a Swedish radio program, named Andersson I Nedan (Andersson in Wane) were the Swedish humorist Tage Danielsson talked to the three persons in the moon. Sent in the mid-1950:ies.

edunn said...

My dad sang this to me, but it was "I see the moon, the moon sees me. I see the moon, the MOON sees me. I see the MOON, the moon sees me. OH, aren't we lucky!"

Then there were verses:
"Daddy loves baby (name) and baby loves daddy. Daddy loves baby and baby loves daddy. Daddy LOVES baby and baby loves Daddy. OH, aren't we lucky!"

And the verses could go on & on with more family members mentioned.

I'm going to record what I remember...the score.

edunn said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

The version I know and love is this:

I see the moon and the moon sees me, the moon sees somebody I wanna see. God bless the moon and God bless me and God bless the somebody I wanna see.

God looked down from up above and picked you out for me to love, he picked you out from all the rest 'cause he knew that I'd love you the very best.

Over the mountains and over the seas there is a place I am longing to be, and in that place I am longing to be, there is a somebody I wanna see.