The Mother's Day Song

THE Mother’s Day Song: “M-O-T-H-E-R”!

It’s hard to believe that next Sunday is already Mother’s Day! Wasn’t it just Christmas?! Mothers are very much on my mind these days, as mine is going through a serious health crisis, and my husband’s mom is having her health challenges as well. Mother’s Day takes on an even more special meaning now. So in the spirit of helping us all celebrate and appreciate our beautiful mothers, I thought it would be nice to feature a classic, sentimental song that spotlights just how incredible our mothers are…

Written in 1915, “M-O-T-H-E-R”, with music by Theodore Morse and lyrics by Howard Johnson, has to be at the top of the list of tributes to mothers everywhere. Popular in its day, and continuously sung to the present day, this piece has become the standard by which all other “mother” songs are measured, and has been recorded by many different solo and ensemble artists, in a variety of musical styles. Like “Danny Boy”,      “M-O-T-H-E-R” has been recorded by a number of Irish tenors, and has become a part of the traditional Irish song repertoire as well.

Let’s take a listen to everyone’s favorite snowman (I hope you get the Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer reference!), the legendary actor and singer Burl Ives, give his wonderful rendition of this piece with backup from the Kings Men:




If you didn’t get a chance to listen to the clip, here are the lyrics:

I’ve been around the world, you bet, but never went to school
Hard knocks are all I seem to get, perhaps I’ve been a fool;
But still, some educated folks, supposed to be so swell,
Would fail if they were called upon a simple word to spell.
Now if you’d like to put me to the test,
There’s one dear name that I can spell the best!

“M” is for the million things she gave me
“O” means only that she’s growing old
“T” is for the tears she shed to save me
“H” is for her heart of purest gold
“E” is for her eyes with love-light shining
“R” means right and right she’ll always be
Put them all together they spell MOTHER,
a word that means the world to me.

When I was but a baby, long before I learned to walk,
While lying in my cradle, I would try my best to talk;
It wasn’t long before I spoke and all the neighbors heard,
My folks were very proud of me for “Mother” was the word.
Although I’ll never lay a claim to fame,
I’m satisfied that I can spell the name:

“M” is for the mercy she possesses
“O” means that I owe her all I own
“T” is for her tender, sweet caresses
“H” is for her hands that made a home
“E” means ev’rything she’s done to help me
“R” means real and regular, you see
Put them all together they spell MOTHER,
a word that means the world to me.


My college students might say that this song is corny or old-fashioned, but that’s exactly what I love about it. Loving and honoring our mothers was the cultural norm in the earlier part of the twentieth century, and many songs and poems were written extolling the virtues of that wonderful parent. Play this song for your mother— I bet she’ll enjoy it!

Today there certainly aren’t as many songs being written about our moms, so on this Mother’s Day, let’s all raise a glass to her, give her a big hug and kiss, and show our thanks for a lifetime of love…


For a history of this special holiday, visit:

And since we’re celebrating our gratitude for our mothers, see my earlier post:

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