“Meet Me Tonight in the Moonlight”


The singer calls on his sweetheart to "Meet me tonight in the moonlight." He bids her come alone and hear his sad story. He is being sent to sea, and they must part. He expresses his hope to return in metaphors of a fine ship, angels' wings, etc.


This song later became merged with a version of "Botany Bay/Here's Adieu to All Judges and Juries" to produce "The Prisoner's Song." See notes on that piece also, as they often cannot be distinguished. It doesn't help that that song was built out of traditional materials by Vernon Dalhart (or someone), and the Carter Family patched up a version also.

Belden's "Beautiful Light o'er the Sea" is a curiosity; it doesn't really look like this song -- but two of its three verses go with this song, and the whole theme is very similar. Since I haven't met the "other half" that gave it its title (indeed, it sounds more like a hymn than anything else), it seemed proper to file it here so people will realize that the "half and half" song exists.

Richard Dress informs us that Joseph Augustine Wade (1796?-1845) wrote the lyrics 'Meet me by moonlight alone, And then I will tell you a tale Must be told by the moonlight alone" around 1826. It seems to have been the only thing he ever did of significance; my sources don't even agree on whether his middle name was "Augustus" or "Augustine."

This latter piece can be found as broadside NLScotland, L.C.Fol.70(83b) "Meet Me by Moonlight Alone," Poet's Box (Dundee), n.d. - RBW

Cross references


  • Burnett & Rutherford, "Meet Me in the Moonlight" (Supertone 9443, 1929)
  • Carter Family, "Meet Me by Moonlight Alone" (Victor 23731, 1928) (Perfect 7-01-54/7-05-55, both 1937)
  • Bradley Kincaid, "I Wish I Had Someone to Love Me" (Vocalion 02686, 1934)


  1. Randolph 746, "Meet Me Tonight" (3 texts plus a gragment, 1 tune, although the "C" text is probably "The Prisoner's Song (I)")
  2. Randolph/Cohen, pp. 489-491, "Meet Me Tonight" (1 text, 1 tune -- Randolph's 746A)
  3. BrownIII 350, "The Prisoner's Song" (7 texts plus 1 fragment, 2 excerpts, and mention of 1 more; "A"-"C," plus probably the "D" excerpt, are "The Prisoner's Song (I)"; "E" and "G," plus perhaps the "H" fragment, are "Meet Me Tonight in the Moonlight"; "J" and "K" are "Sweet Lulur")
  4. Sandburg, pp. 216-217, "Moonlight" (1 text plus an excerpt, 1 tune)
  5. Belden, p. 494, "Beautiful Light o'er the Sea" (1 text, possibly mixed with something else)
  6. Scarborough-SongCatcher, pp. 346-351, "New Jail/Prisoner's Song/Here's Adieu to all Judges and Juries" (1, not collected by Scarborough, of "Judges and Juries," plus 6 texts from her collections: "New Jail," "I'm Going To My New Jail Tomorrow," "New Jail," "Meet Me in the Moonlight," "The Great Ship," "Prisoner's Song"; 3 tunes on pp.449-450; the "A" fragment is probably "Meet Me Tonight in the Moonlight"; "B" and "D" are "New Jail" types; "C" is too short to classify; "E" is a mix of floating verse, "If I had a great ship on the ocean," "Let her go, let her go and God bless her," "Sometimes I'll live in the white house, sometimes I live in town..."; "F" may well have some Dalhart influence)
  7. Roud #767
  8. BI, R746


Alternate titles: “I Wish I Had Someone to Love Me”
Author: Joseph A. Wade
Earliest date: 1924
Keywords: separation love
Found in: US(So)