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

This is northern-hemisphere hymn about Mary, which is suitable for use in the month of May. 

The words were written by a School Sister of Notre Dame in England in the mid/late 19th century:  in internet source has identified her as  Sister Albertine SND and stated that the hymn was written in  1887.  However it was published in the Parochial Hymnbook, Burns & Oates, U.K. 1881 - so it must have been written by this date, at least.

Comments on internet forums, videos etc suggest it well-known in England in the mid 20th century, and some people believe it is of Scottish origin.

The text has meter: with refrain.  Tunes it has been set to include:
  • An unnamed tune composed by Rev F Robinson (date unknown) - apparently used in an early publication, this tune was also used when it was published in an American edition of the Parochial Hymn Book, compiled by Rev Anatole Police in Boston in 1897.   
  • An unnamed tune, used in The Sodalist's Hymnal, Philadelphia 1887 - this was labelled "Copyright E. F. MacGonigle" - but this person was the editor, and while they may have arranged the music they are not necessarily the composer.
  • FULFILLMENT by Filipino singer, composer and Catholic priest , Rev. J. Roel Lungay, 1996.

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.


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Family folk-band - professional style recording:

Unaccompanied singer:

Singer and backing track - alternative tune and arrangement:

Choir with organ:

Choir and congregation with organ, recorded live in a church service:

Instrumental - piano:


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 tnto 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.

  4. This hymn reminds me of the early 50's. Children standing in playground of Our Lady and St Margarets primary in Glasgow,singing before we went into our classrooms...Marvelous..

  5. James You have described my childhood. Thank you. I left Glesga decades ago but still relive those days.

  6. I went to Bury Convent in the 1950s and we sang this hymn at May time.I have never heard it since I left school in the early 60s.It brings back lovely memories.

  7. It was composed in the 1970’s in Weston Vermont

    1. Hi and thanks for commenting. Do you have any more information about this?

      Based on the other comments, the words were written earlier. But maybe a new tune was composed at Weston in the 1970s. Was it published anywhere? Who composed it?