The History of “Taps”

An American Prayer CoverDo you know why “Taps” is played at military funerals? (If you don’t know, I didn’t either and saw this on Facebook, found it interesting and decided to share it.)

During the Civil War in 1862, Union Army Captain Robert Elli was with his men in Virginia near Harrison’s Landing. The Confederate Army was just on the other side of a narrow strip of land.

In the night, Captain Elli heard a solider moaning who laid severely wounded in the field. Not knowing if it was a Union or Confederate soldier, the Captain decided to risk his life and bring the stricken man back for medical attention. Crawling on his stomach through the gunfire, the Captain reached the stricken soldier and began pulling him toward his camp.

When the Captain finally reached his own lines, he discovered it was actually a Confederate soldier, but the soldier was dead. The Captain lit a lantern and suddenly caught his breath and went numb with shock. In the dim light, he saw the soldier’s face; it was his own son. (The son had been studying music in the South when the war broke out. Without telling his father, the boy had enlisted in the Confederate Army.)

Even though the son was of enemy status, the next morning, the heartbroken father asked his superiors’ permission to give his son a full military burial, including a group of Army band members to play a funeral dirge. The request was rejected since the soldier was a Confederate. But, out of respect for the father, they agreed to give him only one musician – a buglar. The father asked the buglar to play a series of musical notes he had found on a piece of paper in his dead son’s uniform pocket. This wish was granted.

The haunting melody of “Taps” was born. The words from the son’s pocket:

Verse 1 – Day is done. Gone the sun. From the lakes. From the hills. From the sky. All is well. Safely rest. God is nigh.

Verse 2 – Fading light. Dims the sight. And a star. Gems the sky. Gleaming bright. From afar. Drawing nigh. Falls the night.

Verse 3 – Thanks and praise. For our days. Neath the sun. Neath the stars. Neath the sky. As we go. This we know. God is nigh.

This song is the finale on the “An American Prayer” album. While it is not played with a bugle, the harp version is really unique! If this song touches something deep within you, you can download this beautiful, haunting song.

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