Click on this MP3 file to hear the morning reveille bugle call. The MP3 for Taps, played at night is below the poem.
The bugle sounds each morning and night
marking the commencing and passing
of the day. Did I squander this precious
time complaining, gossiping, playing
the victim? Did I ignore the pleading
eyes and outstretched hand? Fail
to smile as I passed a sister in
the street who looked forlorn.
What opportunity to be loving
did I throw away today, too
self-absorbed to see?
Or did I pause to give a morsel
to a hungry dog, or better yet,
bring him home to live with me?
Did I sit with an elder, lonely,
abandoned by all? Can I write in my diary
that I baked a loaf of bread
for a woman confined to a wheelchair
and brought fruit and vegetables to
her and her daughters…they have so
little but always have a smile.
When the bugler plays “Taps” tonight,
will I sleep in my cozy bed filled
with gratitude for one more day
in the love of my Creator?
Oh, Dear God, let it be so. Amen!
Day is done,
gone the sun,
from the lakes
from the hills
from the sky,
all is well,
God is near.
Dims the sight,
And a star gems the sky
Falls the night.
Thanks and praise,
For our days,
Neath the sun
Neath the stars
Neath the sky,
As we go,
This, we, know,
God is near.
History of Taps:
The 24-note bugle call known as “taps” is thought to be a revision of a French bugle signal, called “tattoo,” that notified soldiers to cease an evening’s drinking and return to their barracks or garrisons. It was sounded one hour before the bugle call that brought the military day to an end by ordering the extinguishing of fires and lights. The last five measures of the tattoo resemble the modern day “Taps.”
The word “taps” is an alteration of the obsolete word “taptoo,” derived from the Dutch “taptoe.” Taptoe was the command — “Tap toe!” — to shut (“toe to”) the “tap” of a keg.
The revision that gave us present-day taps was made during America ‘s Civil War by Union Gen. Daniel Adams Butterfield, heading a brigade camped at Harrison Landing, Va., near Richmond. Up to that time, the U.S. Army’s infantry call to end the day was the French final call, “L’Extinction des feux.” Gen. Butterfield decided the “lights out” music was too formal to signal the day’s end. One day in July 1862, he recalled the tattoo music and hummed a version of it to an aide, who wrote it down in music. Butterfield then asked the brigade bugler, Oliver W. Norton, to play the notes and, after listening, lengthened and shortened them while keeping his original melody.
He ordered Norton to play this new call at the end of each day thereafter, instead of the regulation call. The music was heard and appreciated by other brigades, who asked for copies and adopted this bugle call. It was even adopted by Confederate buglers. This music was made the official Army bugle call after the war, but not given the name “taps” until 1874.
The first time taps was played at a military funeral may also have been in Virginia soon after Butterfield composed it. Union Capt. John Tidball, head of an artillery battery, ordered it played for the burial of a cannoneer killed in action. Not wanting to reveal the battery’s position in the woods to the enemy nearby, Tidball substituted taps for the traditional three rifle volleys fired over the grave. Taps was played at the funeral of Confederate Gen. Stonewall Jackson 10 months after it was composed. Army infantry regulations by 1891 required taps to be played at military funeral ceremonies. Taps now is played by the military at burial and memorial services and is still used to signal “lights out” at day’s end.