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“The Silver Moon”

His voice was like a part of the night and the moonlight and the stillness of the prairie. He came to the doorway, singing… – Little House on the Prairie, Chapter 6, “Moving In”

Roll On, Silver Moon” (also known as “The Silver Moon” or “The Bonny Moon”) was written by Joseph W. Turner in England. Two American versions were published in 1847, one of them arranged by Turner. While Laura Ingalls Wilder included the correct first line of the chorus of this song in her manuscripts for Little House on the Prairie – “Roll on, silver moon…” – it was printed as “Sail on, silver moon” in all published versions.


1. As I stray’d from my cot at the close of the day,
‘Mid the ravishing beauties of June.
‘Neath a jessamine shade I espied a fair maid,
And she plaintively sigh’d to the moon.

[chorus] Roll on silver moon, point the trav’ler his way
While the nightingale’s song is in tune.
I never, never more with my true love will stray,
By thy soft silver beams, gentle moon.

2. As the heart on the mountain, my lover was brave,
So noble, and manly and clever,
So kind and sincere, and he loved me full dear.
Oh my Edwin his equal was never.

3. But alas he is dead and gone to death’s bed
Cut down like a rose in full bloom
All alone doth he sleep while I thus sadly weep
Neath thy soft silver light gentle moon.

4. His lone grave I’ll seek out until morning appears
And weep o’er my lover so brave
I’ll embrace the cold sod and bathe with my tears
The sweet flowers that bloom o’er his grave.

5. Ah me ne’er again may my bosom rejoice
For my lost love I fain would meet soon
And fond lovers will weep o’er the grave where we sleep
Neath thy soft silver light, gentle moon.

(from Little House on the Prairie)

Sail on, silver moon!
Shed your radiance o’er the sky…

By the pale, silver light of the moon…

CLICK HERE to listen.



Click on the above images to view a copy of 1847s sheet music of “Roll On, Silver Moon,” published by Oliver Ditson & Co.

This music is archived in the Lester S. Levy Collection of Sheet Music, part of Special Collections at the Milton S. Eisenhower Library of The Johns Hopkins University. The collection contains over 29,000 pieces of music and focuses on popular American music from 1780-1960.    


“Roll On, Silver Moon” (LHP 6)
     Sail on, silver moon
     By the pale, silver light of the moon