Appalachia Music

Twilight Is Stealing

Twilight Is Stealing

The old hymn, Twilight Is Stealing, was written by Aldine Kieffer in the latter part of the 19th Century. According to the Mudcat Cafe:

The earliest printed reference is ‘The Singing School Tribune’ (Dayton Va: Ruebush, Kieffer & Co 1880). It was recorded by Dykes Magic City Trio as ‘Twilight is stealing’ in 1927 and by the Stoneman Family as ‘Twighlight is stealing o’er the sea’ in 1928, but neither of these was issued. The earliest issued recording was by The Carolina Quartet (vcl qt unacc) in September 1927 as ‘Twilight is stealing’ in Winston-Salem, NC, and issued as OK 45189 in April 1928. Also recorded as ‘Sweet Happy Home’ by Christian Harmony Singers in NYC in October 1929 and issued as Paramount 3241. [Meade et alia ‘Country Music Sources’ p 653]. has an entry about Aldine Kieffer. The page tells about his life and shares several letters written by Kieffer between the years of 1860 and 1901. The page also tells the story of Kieffer’s first love, Sally Clay.

Sally and Kieffer fell in love and knew they should spend the rest of their lives together. The wedding date was set-and they both anxiously awaited the day they could become man and wife.

At the last minute the road to holy matrimony was blocked by the Civil War. Kieffer signed up against his true love’s wishes and was called to serve the very day before their wedding.

The two love birds kept up their romance through letters for a while, until one day Sally just quit writing Kieffer. He never heard from her again. As most people would be, Kieffer was heartbroken. Unfortunately he turned to drink to ease his troubled heart. Thankfully Kieffer met up with Josephine Hammon who would be his wife and friend for life.

You can read more about the newly married couple’s life on the page-but you must skip ahead through the years till almost the end of Kieffer’s life to find out what happened to his first love, Sally.

One day while traveling, Kieffer stopped at Sally’s house by chance for a drink of water. The broken engagement from years before came up in the conversation. Seems Sally’s parents were not very fond of Kieffer and hoped their daughter would marry better. Once Kieffer headed off to war, her parents took the opportunity to nip the relationship in the bud. They placed an obituary in the local paper telling of Kieffer’s death in the war and trashed all the letters he mailed to Sally.

Just as Kieffer had, Sally went on to marry and have children. After the deceit of the broken engagement was brought to light, the two promised if one should die first they would let the other know they had left this world.

Sometime later Kieffer was awakened one night by the voice of Sally telling him goodbye. A few days later he found out she died on the very night he heard her voice.

Sally was gone and Kieffer had lived his life and was ready to go as well.

Twilight a-stealing, over the sea,
Shadows are falling, dark on the lea,
Borne on the night wind, voices of yore,
Come from the far-off shore.

Far away, beyond the starry sky,
Where the love-light never, never dies
Gleameth a mansion filled with delight,
Sweet happy home so bright.

Voices of loved ones, songs of the past,
Still linger round me, while life shall last,
Cheering my pathway while here I roam
Seeking my far-off home. 

Far away, beyond the starry sky,
Where the love-light never, never dies
Gleameth a mansion filled with delight,
Sweet happy home so bright.

Come in the twilight, come, come to me,
Bringing sweet message over the sea.
Lonely I wander, sadly I roam,
Seeking my far-off home.

Far away, beyond the starry sky,
Where the love-light never, never dies
Gleameth a mansion filled with delight,
Sweet happy home so bright.


I hope you enjoyed the story-and our version of the old song!



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  • Reply
    Carris Kocher
    January 11, 2021 at 1:17 pm

    My 94 yr. old father began singing this song recently. This was the first time I’d heard it, but he said my grandmother sang it often during his childhood. In researching more about it I discovered your article and blog posts. Many thanks for the “rest of the story.”

    • Reply
      January 11, 2021 at 3:38 pm

      Carris-its a beautiful song for sure! Hope you drop back by often!

  • Reply
    Debbie Nixon
    September 29, 2019 at 7:22 pm

    Love this rendition and as usual Pap and Paul did fantastic. Also I loved the story you posted it is a sad one but also it is true I guess you never forget your first love, even though they both went on to have families of their own.
    Thanks tipper for all your research into the songs.
    Your friend

  • Reply
    Don Wiley
    August 27, 2012 at 8:35 am

    I lead a group that sings Christian Harmony (shape note) at Sycamore Shoals in Carter County, Tenn. One time we sang that song and I looked out to see an old man with tears coming from his eyes. Now, I don’t think the singing was THAT bad. I figured there was some memory that song and brought to him.

  • Reply
    August 26, 2012 at 4:57 pm

    Pam-thank you for the comment! Paul plays a Gibson Dove-first edition! It was Pap’s-then somewhere along the line they swapped : )
    Blind Pig The Acorn
    Celebrating and Preserving the
    Culture of Appalachia

  • Reply
    August 20, 2012 at 8:48 am

    Why haven’t I commented before on what a great sound Paul gets from that guitar? What make and year is it?

  • Reply
    Tim Mc
    August 20, 2012 at 6:43 am

    Good Story,, and as always nicely done on the song, enjoyed it..

  • Reply
    August 20, 2012 at 4:03 am

    Fine song and fascinating story.

  • Reply
    August 19, 2012 at 10:01 pm

    Oh my goodness. This is one of my favorite songs we still sing at church. I have never heard the story behind it before. So sad!

  • Reply
    susie swanson
    August 19, 2012 at 7:43 pm

    Haven’t heard this one in a long, long time.Love the story as well. They do a great job as usual..Thanks for sharing..

  • Reply
    August 19, 2012 at 7:39 pm

    Nicely done! I enjoyed the story
    behind the writer’s life.
    I recon everything the Blind Pig
    Gang does, I like and especially
    those Pressley Girls…Ken

  • Reply
    Judy Mincey
    August 19, 2012 at 5:18 pm

    Nice rendition of a song that can easily become over sentimental. Sang it as a child on my grandmother’s porch and had not heard it in many years until I started singing Christian Harmony.

  • Reply
    August 19, 2012 at 11:19 am

    YAY! For the fist time in weeks I’ve been able to post on The Blind Pig. Don’t know what the problem was, but I sure did miss adding my two cents worth!
    This is a lovely old hymn, and the Blind Pig gang gave it a very nice treatment as always.
    The reference to twilight has teased out of my memory a song called In The Gloaming of the Evening, now I have something to research!

  • Reply
    Mrs. K
    August 19, 2012 at 11:13 am

    Lovely, but sad story. Thanks so much for sharing this Tipper. And, of course, wonderful music.

  • Reply
    dolores barton
    August 19, 2012 at 10:25 am

    Such a beautiful story! Your family did a wonderful rendition. So much talent in one family; you are blessed!

  • Reply
    Bob Dalsemer
    August 19, 2012 at 10:01 am

    Great song! I first encountered it at Berea Christmas Country Dance School where we sang it from a little green book called Songs of All Time. From there it made its way into the Folk School song book. It’s also in the Christian Harmony as a four part shape note hymn. My favorite rendition was in 1976 at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival on the National Mall. In the early evening there was a concert entitled “A Ritchie Family Reunion” by about 50 members (3-4 generations) of the Ritchie Family from Kentucky (including Jean Ritchie). They sang Twilight is Stealing at the Reflecting Pool with the Lincoln Memorial and the setting sun behind them. It was a moment I’ll always remember.

  • Reply
    Sue Crane
    August 19, 2012 at 9:41 am

    This song was a favorite of my great-grandfathers and often sung at the many family sing-alongs. When my mother died her sister and nieces, along with a “cousin-sister” sang this at the graveside. It was spontaneous and a fitting closing prayer. Last week I thanked you and today I want to thank Paul and Pap for their music (and unknowingly letting me sing along now and then).

  • Reply
    August 19, 2012 at 9:24 am

    I enjoyed the story and your gang’s version of the song. You are so blessed to have a whole family of talented entertainers. Do you and The Deer Hunter ever participate in the pickin’ and singin’?

  • Reply
    Ethelene Dyer Jones
    August 19, 2012 at 7:35 am

    I had not heard “Twilight Is Stealing” in a long time. Thanks for the video rendition by the Blind Pig Players/Singers, and for the story of the writer’s life. Even though sad, I enjoyed reading it.
    Hard rain in the early morning here today; these “dog days” showers seem rather widespread. I probably should take my umbrella with me to church!

  • Reply
    August 19, 2012 at 7:26 am

    Such a sad story.Makes you wonder how many relationships have been ruined by meddleing folks. Did enjoy the singing by Pap and Paul. As always, they do a great job.

  • Reply
    Gorges Smythe
    August 19, 2012 at 5:21 am

    Interesting story!

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