Taps Bugler: Jari Villanueva

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Celebrate 150 Years of Taps

Lyrics or Words to Taps

Lyrics or Words to Taps

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Lyrics or Words to Taps

The new bugle signal (also known as “Butterfield’s Lullaby”) is called “Taps” in common usage because it is was used for the same purpose (to signal lights out) as the three drum taps. However the U.S. Army still called it Extinguish Lights and it did not officially change the name to Taps until 1891. As soon as Taps was sounded that night in July 1862, words were put with the music. The first were, “Go To Sleep, Go to Sleep.”

From Two Bugle Calls by O.W. Norton

As the years went on many more versions were created. Through research I have uncovered many verses. I have also been searching for the author of the lyrics of the most popular text to the tune of Taps “Day is Done”

“Day is done, Gone the sun,
From the lake, From the hill,
From the sky.
All is well, Safely rest,
God is nigh.”

In 1999 I had received information that the first two verses I’ve listed below may be attributed to Rukard Hurd. Hurd was a member of the Class of 1878 of the Pennsylvania Military College, which later became Widener University, and a trustee from 1895 to 1922. He is said to have composed the lyrics to Taps now used by most every Boy and Girl Scout troop in America. The University regularly gives permission for their use to Scout troops and other groups, as the rights to the copyrighted lyrics were willed to P.M.C. and then Widener by Mr. Hurd and his descendants. Indeed, many early citations of the lyrics to Taps cite the Pennsylvania Military College or Mr. Hurd as author. The University is in the process of producing a photocopy of a dated publication or dated and signed manuscript, which would predate any other extant publications for these same lyrics of Taps. It may be that Hurd is the original author, or that he borrowed someone’s lyrics.


Until the original documents by Rukard Hurd, wherein he donates or sells the copyrights to these lyrics for Taps, can be found, we have to list the author as “unknown.” The words have also been attributed to Forrest W. Gaz, who worked for the Civilian Conservation Corps during the 1930s. Gaz is listed as author in The Soil Soldiers–Civilian Conservation Corps in the Great Depression by Leslie Alexander Lacy.

Another so-called author of the words to Taps is Horace Lorenzo Trim (Feb. 26, 1849-Feb. 19, 1915) who was a Civil War Soldier. Although he is listed in many places on the Internet as the one who wrote the words to Taps, there is no proof that he wrote the “Day is Done..” lyrics. Here are the words he wrote:

Trim words to Taps

So once again , the internet has it wrong and is spreading a myth as to the true author of “Day is Done.”

Whoever the true author may be, these lyrics are very moving and poignant.
Day is done, Gone the sun,
From the lake, From the hill,
From the sky.
All is well, Safely rest,
God is nigh.


Here is a recording of a vocal rendition of Taps (arranged by Jari Villanueva) from the CD
“Day is Done-Music Commemorating the 150th Anniversary of Taps”

There are no official words to the music, but below are some of the more popular verses.

Day is done, Gone the sun,
From the lake, From the hill,
From the sky.
All is well, Safely rest,
God is nigh.

Thanks and praise, For our days,
Neath the sun, Neath the stars,
Neath the sky,
As we go, This we know,
God is nigh.

Fades the light; And afar
Goeth day, And the stars
Shineth bright,
Fare thee well; Day has gone,
Night is on.

Go to sleep, Peaceful sleep,
May the Soldier or Sailor,
God keep.
On the land or the deep,
Safe in sleep.

Love, good night, Must thou go,
When the day, And the night
Need thee so?
All is well. Speedeth all
To their rest

© copyright 2010 tapsbugler.com

Here is another setting of Taps.
Elegy, by Daniel Elder incorporates the famous melody, along with the original poetry and new music by Elder.

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