Taps (Day Is Done)

DESCRIPTION: Initially and properly a bugle call, but frequently sung with the lyric "Day is done, Gone the sun, From the lake, From the hill, From the sky, All is well, Safely rest, God is nigh."
AUTHOR: Music: Daniel Butterfield (1831-1901)
EARLIEST DATE: 1862 (source: Mark M. Boatner, The Civil War Dictionary, entry on Butterfield)
KEYWORDS: music nonballad
REFERENCES (13 citations):
Fuld-BookOfWorldFamousMusic, p. 570, "Taps"
Harbin-Parodology, #357, p. 63, "Taps" (1 text 1 tune)
Rodeheaver-SociabilitySongs, p. 127, "Taps" (1 text, 1 tune)
Averill-CampSongsFolkSongs, pp. 192, 195, 292, 332, 422, 521, "Taps"/"Day Is Done" (notes only)
GirlScouts-SingTogether, p. 12, "Taps" (1 text, 1 tune)
Zander/Klusmann-CampSongsNThings, p. 112, "Taps" (1 text, 1 tune)
Zander/Klusmann-CampSongsPopularEdition, p. 56, "Taps"( 1 text)
ChansonsDeNotreChalet, p. 69, "Day Is Done/Taps" (1 text, 1 tune, with versions -- not really translations -- in French, German, Swedish, Daish, Italian, Dutch, "Finland" (sic.), and Greek (but in transliteration, not the Greek alphabet)
BoyScoutSongbook1997, p. 125, "Taps" (1 text)
National-4HClubSongBook, p. 45, "Taps" (1 text, 1 tune)
GirlScout-PocketSongbook, p. 10, "Taps" (1 text, 1 tune)
JournalOfAmericanFolklore, Jay Mechling, "Magic of the Boy Scout Campfire," Volume 93, Number 367 (Jan-Mar 1980), p. 50, "Taps" (1 text)

NOTES [165 words]: The bugle is a melodically limited instrument, and General Daniel Butterfield, while a brigadier in the Army of the Potomac, wanted a better call. So he came up with "Taps," and it took off amazingly.
The tune was used for the final event of the day, "Extinguish Lights," and was called by that name for a time.
Being such a widespread piece, I am not attempting to list all uses -- just the camp uses.
Averill-CampSongsFolkSongs, p. 294, states that Daniel Butterfield "commanded the Army of the Potomac in 1862." This is absurdly false; he commanded a brigade, a division, and for a time a corps, but not the whole thing. He did serve as Chief of Staff under Joseph Hooker, and was still in that capacity at the Battle of Gettysburg because George Gordon Meade hadn't had time to replace him -- but soon after Gettysburg, Meade fired the Butterfield, who was not a professional military man. This tune is probably Butterfield's only positive contribution to American military history. - RBW
Last updated in version 6.3
File: ACSF292T

Go to the Ballad Search form
Go to the Ballad Index Song List

Go to the Ballad Index Instructions
Go to the Ballad Index Bibliography or Discography

The Ballad Index Copyright 2022 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.