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My Old Kentucky Home, Good Night song lyrics


Song lyrics to My Old Kentucky Home, Good Night by Stephen Foster (1853)

My Old Kentucky Home, Good-Night! is an anti-slavery ballad written by Stephen Foster. It was published in January 1853. He was likely inspired by Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin, with imagery witnessed on his visits to the Bardstown, Kentucky farm of Federal Hill.

In Foster’s sketchbook, the song was originally entitled “Poor Uncle Tom, Good-Night!”, but he altered it to “My Old Kentucky Home, Good-Night!” Frederick Douglass wrote in his 1855 autobiography My Bondage and My Freedom that the song “awakens sympathies for the slave, in which antislavery principles take root, grow, and flourish”.

(Editor’s note: Modern renditions (with Kentucky officially adopting this change in 1986) of the song change the word “darkies” to “people”.)

The sun shines bright in the old Kentucky home,
‘Tis summer, the people are gay,
The corn top’s ripe and the meadows in the bloom,
While the birds make music all the day.
The young folks roll on the little cabin floor,
All merry, all happy and bright:
By’n by Hard Times comes a knocking at the door,
Then my old Kentucky Home, good night!

Weep no more, my lady,
Oh! weep no more to-day!
We will sing one song for the old Kentucky Home,
For the old Kentucky Home far away.

They hunt no more for possum and the coon
On the meadow, the hill, and the shore,
They sing no more by the glimmer of the moon,
On the bench by the old cabin door.
The day goes by like a shadow o’er the heart,
With sorrow where all was delight:
The time has come when the people have to part,
Then my old Kentucky Home, good-night!


The head must bow and the back will have to bend,
Wherever the people may go:
A few more days, and the trouble all will end
In the field where the sugar-canes grow.
A few more days for to tote the weary load,
No matter, ’twill never be light,
A few more days till we totter on the road,
Then my old Kentucky Home, good-night!


Movie mentions

  • In 1939, “My Old Kentucky Home” was featured in the film version of Gone With The Wind. In the movie, Prissy, played by Butterfly McQueen, sings the line, “a few more days for to tote the weary load”.
  • Performed in Kentucky Kernels.


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