Long, Long Ago
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Lesley Nelson-Burns

This song was written in 1833 by English songwriter and dramatist, Thomas Haynes Bayly (1797-1839), whose other songs include Gaily the Troubadour. It was not published until ten years later, after Bayly had died. The song first appeared when Rufus Griswold, editor of a Philadelphia magazine, published a collection of Bayly's poems and songs in 1843. Bayly originally named the tune The Long Ago, so it appears Griswold changed the name. It achieved instant popularity and was the most popular song in America in 1843.

Thomas Haynes Bayly was born in Bath, England on October 13, 1797 to wealthy parents. His father expected Bayly to be a lawyer, but after several years at home he went to Oxford to study for the church. His studies ended when he married a wealthy woman. They had two daughters and a son. They lived happily for six years until their son died. Bayly lost his health and faced financial ruin. He turned to writing to pay the bills. Bayly fell ill and died at the age of 42 in April of 1839.*

Bayly is also known as the source for the quote, "Absence makes the heart grow fonder." The line occurs in his song Isle of Beauty. There is some debate as to whether Bayly should be credited with the line as others had written similar sentiments. See the link to Bartlett's Quotations for the others.

Tell me the tales that to me were so dear,
Long, long ago, long, long ago,
Sing me the songs I delighted to hear,
Long, long ago, long ago,
Now you are come all my grief is removed,
Let me forget that so long you have roved.
Let me believe that you love as you loved,
Long, long ago, long ago.

Do you remember the paths where we met?
Long, long ago, long, long ago.
Ah, yes, you told me you'd never forget,
Long, long ago, long ago.
Then to all others, my smile you preferred,
Love, when you spoke, gave a charm to each word.
Still my heart treasures the phrases I heard,
Long, long ago, long ago.

Tho' by your kindness my fond hopes were raised,
Long, long ago, long, long ago.
You by more eloquent lips have been praised,
Long, long ago, long, long ago,
But, by long absence your truth has been tried,
Still to your accents I listen with pride,
Blessed as I was when I sat by your side.
Long, long ago, long ago.
Related Links
From Best Loved Songs of the American People and
*Our Familiar Songs and Those Who Made Them
See Bibliography for full information.