The Lovely Month of May (The sun is shining brightly)

The author and composer of this northern-hemisphere Marian hymn are unknown.

 It was included in The Sodalist's Hymnal which was published in Philadelphia in 1887 and so is assumed to now be in the public domain.   In this book it is labelled "Copyright E. F. MacGonigle" - but this person was the editor, and while they may have arranged the music they are most likely not the composer.

It appears to have been well-known in England, and some people believe it is of Scottish origin.

Meter: with refrain, the tune is un-named.

Note: this hymn is not the same as a song with the same title by Robert Schuman in the Dichterliebe Song Cycle, which was used in a film about Paris made in the 1960s.




The sun is shining brightly, the trees are gold and green (*);
A beauteous bloom of flowers on every side is seen.
The fields are gold and emerald and all the world is gay,
For `tis the month of Mary, the lovely month of May.

Mary dearest mother,
we sing a hymn to thee;
Thou art the Queen of heaven,
Thou too our Queen shall be.
O rule us and guide us
Unto eternity.

There's music in the heavens, the birds are singing there;
And nature's songs and praises are sounding through the air.
And we with hearts rejoicing, with joy we sing today,
For `tis the month of Mary, the lovely month of May.

And when the night close o'er us, and twinkling stars appear;
The chaste moon calmly reigneth in skies so bright and clear.
O how that sight reminds us of heaven far away,
Where reigns, o'er saint and angels, our lovely Queen of May.

(*) - some people have learned this line as:

The sun is shining brightly, the trees are clothed in green;
The sun is shining brightly, trees are gold with gleam

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  1. The author and composer of this hymn is known. It was first published in the Parochial Hymnbook (Burns & Oates, U.K. 1883 and also appeared in the Convent Hymn books of the Sisters of Notre Dame) The text was written by one of the Notre Dame nuns and the tune, which was sung here in the country of origin was composed by Rev F Robinson. Note that this is not the tune that you have linked above as it seems to come from an American publication. An edition of the Parochial Hymn Book was compiled by Rev Anatole Police in Boston in 1898 and the tune from that book is not the tune that you have linked and is in fact the tune by Rev F Robinson, so this would have been sung in America also at the time.

  2. Thanks Stephen, I'll try and to some more research into this one, I seem to remember struggling to find reliable information about it.

  3. You're welcome! I specialise in pre Vatican II and Victorian Catholic hymns and hymnbooks. Please let me know if I can help further with your research.


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