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Glow, Little Glow Worm
Heinrich Bollen-Baeckers


When the night falls silently,
The night falls silently on forests dreaming,
Lovers wander forth to see,
They wander forth to see the bright stars gleaming.
And lest they should lose their way,
Lest they should lose their way, the glow-worms nightly
Light their tiny lanterns gay,
Their tiny lanterns gay and twinkle brightly.
Here and there and everywhere, from mossy dell and hollow,
Floating, gliding through the air, they call on us to follow.

Shine, little glow-worm, glimmer, glimmer
Shine, little glow-worm, glimmer, glimmer!
Lead us lest too far we wander.
Love's sweet voice is calling yonder!
Shine, little glow-worm, glimmer, glimmer
Shine, little glow-worm, glimmer, glimmer
Light the path below, above,
And lead us on to love.

Little glow-worm, tell me pray,
Oh glow-worm, tell me, pray, how did you kindle
Lamps that by the break of day,
That by the break of day, must fade and dwindle?"
Ah, this secret, by your leave,
This secret, by your leave, is worth the learning!
When true lovers come at eve,
True lovers come at eve, their hearts are burning!
Glowing cheeks and lips betray how sweet the kisses tasted
Till we steal the fire away, for fear lest it be wasted!"

These lyrics are in the public domain.


Heinrich Bolten-Baeckers (1871-1938) wrote the original lyrics for this song, in German, for an operetta entitled Lysistrata. The English translation was done by Lilla Cayley Robinson, an American, for a 1907 Broadway musical, "The Girl Behind the Counter". Over the years, numerous others—most notably, Johnny Mercerhave written different and additional lyrics, and dozens of variations of the song have been recorded. Herr Bolten-Baeckers was a prolific and successful playwright, film director, and producer in Germany. Despite extensive research, YDP has been unable to locate any image of Ms. Robinson or any details whatsoever about her life beyond writing this song. Any additional information would be greatly appreciated. The melody to which these words were set was composed by Paul Lincke (1866-1946), a noted German composer and conductor.


Post New Comment:
I had no idea that song came from a poem. Delightful. I think I had a Mitch Miller album of childrens' songs which had the Glow Worm song on it. By the way, my daughter's senior research paper was about the Blue Ghost fireflies found in the Pisgah Forest near Asheville NC. Another interesting type of "glow worm"!
Posted 02/09/2020 02:13 PM
Interesting pattern of repetition of phrases here. I wish I could remember the lyrics I knew as a kid.
Posted 02/09/2020 01:43 PM
From German to English to the Mills Brothers is a fascinating evolution. Thank you Jayne for unearthing this. I wonder how a present-day singer would interpret it.
Posted 02/09/2020 12:40 PM
The Mills Brothers were my heroes in 1957 when I was 21 years old and in love.
Posted 02/09/2020 10:13 AM
michael escoubas:
We used to play this tune in the grade school band. I recall the song with delight. Love the rhythms and images; I can see/feel the glow worms blinking! Excellent post Jayne.
Posted 02/09/2020 08:04 AM

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