The years creep slowly by, Lorena, The snow is on the grass again; The sun’s low down the sky, Lorena, The frost gleams where the flowers have been, But the heart throbs on as warmly now, As when the summer days were nigh; Oh, the sun can never dip so low, Adown affection’s cloudless sky. Oh, the sun can never dip so low, Down affection’s cloudless sky.
A hundred months have passed, Lorena, Since last I held that hand in mine; And felt the pulse beat fast, Lorena, Tho’ mine beat faster far than thine. A hundred months, ’twas flowery May, When up the hilly slope we climbed, To watch the dying of the day And hear the distant church bells chime. To watch the dying of the day And hear the distant church bells chime.
We loved each other then, Lorena, More than we ever dared to tell; And what we might have been, Lorena, Had but our lovings prospered well— But then, ’tis past, the years are gone, I’ll not call up their shadowy forms; I’ll say to them, “lost years, sleep on! Sleep on! nor heed life’s pelting storms.” I’ll say to them, “lost years, sleep on! Sleep on! nor heed life’s pelting storms.”
The story of that past, Lorena, Alas! I care not to repeat The hopes that could not last, Lorena, They lived, but only lived to cheat. I would not cause e’en one regret To rankle in your bosom now; For “if we try, we may forget,” Were words of thine long years ago. For “if we try, we may forget,” Were words of thine long years ago.
Yes, these were words of thine, Lorena, They burn within my memory yet; They touched some tender chords, Lorena, Which thrill and tremble with regret. ’Twas not thy woman’s heart that spoke; Thy heart was always true to me; A duty, stern and pressing, broke The tie which linked my soul with thee. A duty, stern and pressing, broke The tie which linked my soul with thee.
It matters little now, Lorena, The past is in the eternal Past, Our heads will soon lie low, Lorena, Life’s tide is ebbing out so fast. There is a Future! O thank God! Of life, this is so small a part! ”Tis dust to dust beneath the sod; But there, up there, ’tis heart to heart. ”Tis dust to dust beneath the sod; But there, up there, ’tis heart to heart.
From The Blue and the Gray —
“Almost forgotten now, ‘Lorena’ was the most widely sun and the most popular of Civil War songs, and justly so, for, except for some of Stephen Foster’s, no song of this decade had a lovelier melody. As with so many Civil War songs, the origin of ‘Lorena’ is obscure. It has been assigned [however] to one H.D.L. Webster, as early as 1850, but John Wyeth, historian of Forrest and author of With Sabre and Scalpel, gives it a different history:
“’As we passed a home of the Trappist Brotherhood, Lieutenant Frank Brady entertained us by singing Lorena, a war-time poem which had been set to music and was then very popular. He told us that the author of the poem was an inmate of this Trappist home. If this were so, and the self imprisoned brother heard the sweet voice of the cavalier as he sang, ‘The Years creep slowly by, Lorena’ what sad and tender memories it must have awakened.
— pages 586-87, The Blue and the Gray by Henry Steele Commager, The Fairfax Press, NY 1982