"On the shore, dimly seen Thro' the mists of the deep"
First phrase of "The Star-Spangled Banner"'s second stanza.
The fate of a song when the general public knows only its first verse. In some cases, like "The Star-Spangled Banner", most audiences are aware that it is a longer work with multiple verses but few can say that they know the words. In other cases, most audiences are unaware that the song has
more than one verse, which can be a surprise when, as in "This Land is Your Land," the second verse takes the song in a much different direction than the first.
It can be difficult to distinguish this trope from the similar Chorus-Only Song
; the difference is that in the Chorus-Only Song
is known but no one remembers the verse, while in this trope the first
verse is known but no one remembers the others.
Sheet music publishers who print only the familiar stanzas can be blamed for this. Theme Tunes
also tend to be subject to this.
Compare Chorus-Only Song
. Contrast Single Stanza Song
. Not to be confused with
when the singer begins swearing later on in the song.
Folk songs and Christmas carols
Hymns and Christian songs
- "Molly Malone" ends with a Family-Unfriendly Death.
- Most people know only the first stanza of "Deck the Halls".
- The Pogo parody "Deck Us All with Boston Charlie" only has one verse, but few know more than the first half of it, because the rest was rarely (if ever) used in the strip itself.
- Hardly anyone is aware that "Jingle Bells" has 4 stanzas, including one in which the narrator is mocked after he falls out of his sleigh.
- Most people sing only the first stanza to "Happy Birthday to You". Probably because the second verse is "How old are you now?", which can be seen as offensive or simply blunt.
- The Dutch birthday song, "Lang Zal Hij Leven": The first verse translates innocuously as "Long shall he live, long shall he live in glory!" The rarely-sung second verse translates as "In a hundred years, we'll all be dead in glory!"
- Even "I'm a little Teapot" has a second verse.
I am very special pot, that's true
Here, let me show you what I can do
I can change my handle and my spout
Now (or just) tip me over and pour me out
- The second through fifth verses of "Dixie's Land."
- "When the Saints Go Marching In" can have up to a dozen verses. Odds are, the only one known to or used by most people is this one:
Oh when the saints
Go marching in
Oh when the saints go marching in
Lord, I want to be in that number
Where the saints go marching in.
- "This Land Is Your Land," by Woody Guthrie, as noted above.
- It was, in fact, written as a rebuttal to "God Bless America" and intended as a "worker's national anthem." When Pete Seeger and Bruce Springsteen performed it at President Obama's inaugural celebration, they included the missing verse.
- "Auld Lang Syne" actually has four verses, but most people only know the first (and the chorus). It doesn't help that the first verse is the only one that makes any kind of sense in English.
- And even then most people probably don't know what "auld lang syne" refers to. note
- "Yankee Doodle" has some 16 verses. Most people only know the first verse (the one with the "macaroni") along with the refrain, though the verses starting with "Father and I went down to camp" and "And there was Captain Washington" seem to be popular.
- "Winter Wonderland" has a lesser-known intro before the famous "Sleigh bells ring, are you list'nin'?":
Over the ground lies a mantle of white
A heaven of diamonds shine down through the night
Two hearts are thrillin’ in spite of the chill in weather
Love knows no season
Love knows no clime
Romance can blossom any old time
Here in the open
We’re walkin’ and hopin’ together
- And the verse about Parson Brown and getting married? By 1953, that was already considered archaic, so this verse was written in its place.
In the meadow, we can build a snowman
And pretend that he's a circus clown
We'll have lots of fun with Mr. Snowman
Until the other kiddies knock him down
When it snows, ain't it thrillin'
Though your nose gets a-chillin'
We'll frolic and play the Eskimo way
Walkin' in a winter wonderland
- Some renditions keep Parson Brown, while others include both him and the "circus clown" verse. And even those who include the latter only get as far as "Until the other kiddies knock him down" before going back to the familiar "sleigh bells ring, are you list'nin'?".
- "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" has an intro that is left out of almost all renditions of the song. Although originally intended to be sung, it's usually spoken in versions that do keep it.
I just came back from a trip along the Milky Way
I stopped off at the North Pole to spend the holiday
I called on old dear Santa Claus to see what I could see
He took me to his workshop and told his plans to me
Now Santa is a busy man he has no time to play
He's got millions of stockings to fill on Christmas Day
You better write your letter now and mail it right away
Because he's getting ready his reindeers and his sleigh
- There are also later verses that many versions omit. The one that is omitted least frequently begins with "With little tin horns and little toy drums…"
- Many renditions of "Sleigh Ride" leave out the entire B-section (the part that begins "There's a birthday party at the home of Farm—" [whip] "—er Gray...").
- Most renditions of "What Child Is This?" omit the second half of the second and third verses, instead using the last half of the first verse as a refrain ("This, this is Christ the King / Whom shepherds guard and angels sing / Haste, haste to bring him laudnote / The Babe, the son of Mary!") The missing halves of each verse are: "Nails, spear shall pierce him through / The Cross be borne for me, for you / Hail, hail the Word Made Flesh / The babe, the son of Mary!" and "Raise, raise the song on high / The virgin sings her lullaby / Joy! joy! for Christ is born / The babe, the son of Mary!"
- Similarly, there are five verses to "It Came upon the Midnight Clear", but most hymnals only use four. The third verse (which begins "Yet with the woes of sin and strife / The world has suffered long...") is typically the omitted verse, while the Episcopalian Hymnal 1982 omits verse four ("And ye, beneath life's crushing load / Whose forms are bending low…") instead.
- Inverted by White Christmas whose first stanza was removed by composer Irving Berlin for its first wide release in 1942:
The sun is shining.
The grass is green.
The orange and palm trees sway.
There's never been such a day
In Beverly Hills, L.A.
But it's December the twenty-fourth,
And I'm longing to be up north.
- The rarely-seen final verse to "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing", probably because it's just not as Christmas-y as the rest of the song.
Come, Desire of nations come,
Fix in us Thy humble home;
Rise, the Woman's conquering Seed,
Bruise in us the Serpent's head.
Adam's likeness now efface:
Stamp Thine image in its place;
Second Adam, from above,
Reinstate us in thy love.
- On top of that, the original version, written by Charles Wesley, underwent several rewrites to gain its most familiar lyrics. Early on, the fourth verse above was actually a composite of fourth and fifth verses. See more info here.
- And in a curious subversion, the Episcopalian Hymnal 1982 does just three verses like nearly everyone else, but inexplicably switches around parts of the third.
- "Joy to the World" has four verses, but most renditions will skip the third. In fact, those four come from a poem (based on Psalm 98) that originally had three more stanzas before even getting to the familiar "Christmas" portion of the song.
- "Silent Night" has six verses in the original German. Most English translations use only verses 1, 6, and 2 in that order.
- "We Three Kings" has five verses: the well-known introduction, one verse for each king about the symbolism of his gift, and a fifth verse concluding the song. The fourth verse is frequently omitted, either for length or because of its content: "Myrrh is mine, its bitter perfume/ Breathes a life of gathering gloom/ Sorrowing, sighing, bleeding, dying/ Sealed in the stone cold tomb." The final verse is sometimes cut as well, but occasionally it's included even when the fourth verse isn't.
- Most takes on "Silver Bells" omit this intro:
Christmas makes you feel emotional
It may bring parties or thoughts devotional
Whatever happens or what may be
Here is what Christmas time means to me
- Just about all of them, but a few examples:
- The final verse to "Brightest and Best", which totally changes the meaning of the song to an anti-consumerist message, is often omitted.
Vainly we offer each ample oblation
Vainly with gifts would His favor secure
Richer by far is the heart's adoration
Dearer to God are the prayers of the poor
- "The Church's One Foundation" was written with seven verses. Most versions skip verse 3, and end on a verse that is a composite of the first halves each of 6 and 7, leaving the second halves of each unaccounted for. Some also omit verse 4.
- Charles Wesley's "O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing" was written with seventeen verses (albeit rather short verses in Common Meter). Most versions snip out the first six (the line that provides the title is actually the seventh verse), typically using 7-12 and sometimes 17. Others also omit verse 12 because of the line "his praise, ye dumb, your loosened tongues employ". Similarly, his "Come Thou, O Traveler Unknown" had fourteen verses but is pared down to 1, 2, 9 and 10.
- "Here, O My Lord, I See Thee Face to Face" originally had seven verses. The United Methodist Hymnal has it with five; the Episcopalians actually use four verses as one hymn and the other three as another hymn, titled "This Is the Hour of Banquet and of Song".
- Most 20th century praise songs are published in hymnals with only the refrain. Examples include Amy Grant's "El Shaddai" and "Thy Word", Rich Mullins' "Awesome God", Michael Joncas' "On Eagle's Wings", and just about anything by Andraé Crouch. Older examples include "Fill My Cup, Lord" and "Turn Your Eyes upon Jesus".
- Andraé Crouch's "My Tribute" is an unusual example. The song consists of one verse ("How can I say thanks…"), a four-line refrain ("To God be the glory…"), a bridge ("Just let me live my life…"), then a repeat of the last two lines of the refrain. Many versions in hymnals omit the verse so it's just refrain-bridge-second half of refrain, and some trim it even further to just the refrain.
- For gay-friendly Christian congregations, the second verse's "Judgment and wrath He poured out on Sodom" in "Awesome God" would not sit very well with the congregants.
- Sometimes, this trope is subverted by printing the verses only in the song leader's or choir edition of the hymnal, so that the song leader and/or choir sings the verses, and the congregation joins on just the refrain. This style is particularly common in songs of Catholic origin, and the chants of Jacques Berthier and the Taizé Community.
- Everyone knows the first verse and chorus of "Jesus Loves Me", but do you know any of the next six verses? Most hymnals stop at three or four.
- Amazing Freaking Grace, in its original form, had five verses as originally written by John Newton. The original final verse was:
The earth shall soon dissolve like snow,
The sun forbear to shine;
But God, who call'd me here below,
Will be forever mine.
- Most versions omit the above verse, leaving only four. Some replace it with a verse of African American origin:
When we've been therenote ten thousand years,
Bright shining as the sun,
We've no less days to sing God's praise,
Than when we first begun.
- Interestingly, one of the most popular adaptations, "Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone)" by Chris Tomlin, uses the original final verse.
- Some versions of "What Wondrous Love Is This" have only three verses, with the first being a composite of the first two verses. To be fair, the first halves of these verses are very similar.
- "Go Down, Moses" can have as many as eleven verses.
- Most versions of "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" omit Verse 3:
I have read a fiery gospel writ in burnished rows of steel:
"As ye deal with my contemners, so with you my grace shall deal;
Let the Hero, born of woman, crush the serpent with his heel,
Since God is marching on."
- And almost as many also omit Verse 6:
He is coming like the glory of the morning on the wave,
He is Wisdom to the mighty, He is Succournote to the brave,
So the world shall be His footstool, and the soul of Time His slave,
Our God is marching on.
- Unique Jewish example: The song Ma'oz Tzur is sung on Hanukkah. The poem is six verses long, but most people only know and sing the first verse. Some also sing the fifth verse, which directly relates the the holiday of Hanukkah itself.
- Another Jewish example is the Passover song "Dayenu." The whole version of the song is remarkably long: it has a lot of verses, but the real problem is that the traditional tune involves repeating words over and over again and then going back and repeating the same phrase over and over again. ("If-you-had-brought-brought-brought-brought-brought-us-brought-us-brought-us-out-of-Egypt-if-you-had-brought-us-out-of-Egypt..."). It's like the holiday song that Gertrude Stein would write. Singing the whole song to that tune would take half an hour, if you were sober (which you are not). Most families get about a sentence and a half into the lyrics before giving up.
- "God Be with You Till We Meet Again" is an interesting case. The tune was originally composed by William G. Tomer with a refrain ("Till we meet, till we meet / Till we meet at Jesus' feet…") that is cut out of some hymnals. A later melody, by Ralph Vaughan Williams, does not include a refrain. Both can be heard here.
- Home on the Range has seven verses. Most people would be hard pressed to name any after the 1st verse and chorus.
- The Transformers Animated version of the Transformers opening theme is actually the only version to contain extra lyrics
More than they appear
Justice, bolts, and gears!
- Also, the ending theme from Transformers: The Movie has a full set of verses.
- Back to Animated, the show's second Japanese opening actually uses the second verse of their version of the show's opening theme, as well as a completely new animation for Megatron.
- These often-forgotten lyrics to the DuckTales opening theme:
When it seems to be heading for
The final curtain
Cool deduction never fails
Well, that's for certain
The worst of messes
Can become successes
- "Arabian Nights" from Aladdin originally had three verses (four if you count the B-section), in addition to four reprises at various points in the story, but was cut down to a single stanza for the film. Some of the cut verses and reprises later appeared in the sequels, and more recently, all were restored in the stage musical.
- Scott Joplin's "Maple Leaf Rag" has a rarely-heard second interlude (around 2:00) that sounds very different from the main piece. There's also a version with lyrics.
- Similarly, the first section of Joplin's "The Entertainer" is well known, the second section a little less, and the third and fourth sections rarely heard.
- Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah", as originally written, is several dozen verses in length, which, according to John Cale, took up fifteen pages when Cohen faxed them to him. Cohen's original recording of it featured four of them; Cale's cover, and the subsequent covers of his cover, used the first two verses of Cohen's recording and three others that he had left out.
- Almost everybody in Catalonia can sing by head the first stanza of the hymn of the FC Barcelona. Only true fans know the lyrics to the second stanza, though.
- The Norwegian birthday song by Margrethe Munthe, 'Hurra for deg som fyller ditt år'. Sometimes, people will begin singing the second verse for the lols, even though everyone else are already applauding after the first.
- The full version of The Angry Video Game Nerd's theme has only been used once so far.
- Similarly, the theme to Atop the Fourth Wall has a second verse not usually used in-show. At live shows, where Linkara encourages the audience to sing along to the theme, he once caught an audience off-guard by playing the long version.
- Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star has five stanzas, but most people are only familiar with the first.
- America, the Beautiful has four stanzas, of which most people only know the first.
- A tremendous number of television theme songs have additional verses that are almost never heard unless the show does a "milestone" episode — examples include the themes from Cheers and Friends.
- The Family Guy theme song has two stanzas, but the opening sequence only plays the first. The full song is heard on the Live in Vegas album.
- Many songs will cut a verse from the radio edit if the original version is particularly long. For instance:
- Reba McEntire's cover of Bobbie Gentry's "Fancy" lost the fourth verse (which begins "It wasn't long after that benevolent man took me off the street…"). The album version is 5 minutes long, which is abnormal for a country song, hence the lost verse.
- Kenny Chesney's "When I See This Bar", which 6 minutes long on the album, lost its last verse (which begins "A few have moved on back to Maine, Jacksonville and Key Biscayne…") and a few lines from the coda.
- Keith Urban's "Once in a Lifetime" had a repeat of the chorus with different words edited out of the radio version. Interestingly, most lyric sites don't even reflect the album version's additional lyrics.
- Ray Stevens' "Ahab the Arab" had the final verses (beginning with "All of a sudden, the Sultan walked in / Ahab knew that this was the end…") excised from the radio edit, and most circulating versions follow suit. Likewise, there is very little trace of said verse on the Internet — most lyric sites cut it off where the single version does.
- Alabama's "Dancin', Shaggin' on the Boulevard" had the fourth of its five verses ("Well the Embers singin' up on Ocean Drive…") removed from the radio edit.
- Alan Jackson's "Good Time" had two verses and some solos cut from the radio edit. Considering the repetition in the remaining verses, you'd think they'd have cut some of that instead. Oddly, a "Too Hot to Fish" remix was also sent to radio, which had one of the two missing verses restored.
- An older example is "Lyin' Eyes" by the Eagles. The entire second verse and a few later lines got cut for the radio edit, since the album version is a staggering 6:22.
- Garth Brooks' "Mom" cuts the second verse from the radio edit — strange, as the album version is only 4 minutes, and could've fared just fine without a cut.
- The hard-to-find extended version of Vicious Pink's "C-c-can't You See?" has two additional stanzas:
Baby please, can't you see
I think you know I want you here with me
Baby please, set me free
I'm calling you why don't you answer me
I'll make it up, to you somehow
I only wish that things could be the same
I'll make you feel, like you used to
Why don't you take me in your arms again
- Played with on Garth Brooks' "Friends in Low Places". He decided to write a more cheeky third verse, and would often sing it in concert. A live recording was sent out as a promo single, and appeared on at least one concert VHS. Come 1998's Double Live, a live album recorded in Central Park, he reached the point where the third verse would normally go, vamped for a few minutes, and then quipped that "the friends in low places" should sing the third verse. Cue an entire audience singing said verse, which they probably only ever heard in other concerts, by themselves.
- Inverted: very few people know the introduction to Pinocchio's "When You Wish Upon A Star" (especially since it has a different melody).
When a star is born
They possess a gift or two
One of them is this:
They have the power
To make a wish come true...
- Referenced to in Satou Kashi no Dangan wa Uchinukenai. Umino's father was once a well-known celebrity and he sung a popular song. Few remember the final verse and it has a peppy tune. It seems like a peaceful, romantic song about a mermaid and man however in the end he kills her and makes her into sashimi
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
- The extended theme song, which was released on the Songs of Ponyville album and Friendship Express DVD, but never used on the show itself(aside from the credits of later Japanese episodes), has three entirely new verses.
- "Love is In Bloom" from "A Canterlot Wedding, Part 2" has a second verse that is absent from the show, but present in the music video and on the OST:
Your special day
We celebrate now, the pony way
Your friends are all right here
Won't let these moments disappear
Something is wrong, it's plain to see
This isn't how it's meant to be
And you can't see it like I do
It's not the life that's meant for you
- Ditto "Make a Wish"("Starting out great and it just got better...") and "Let The Rainbow Remind You"("Each one of us will sometimes falter...").
- My Little Pony Equestria Girls: Rainbow Rocks intentionally invokes this with "Awesome As I Wanna Be", where the band is interrupted before the second verse.
- The Toho Eurobeat song "Savior of the Sky", a vocal arrangement of the final boss theme from Undefined Fantastic Object, has two verses in the liner notes, but according to vocalist Travis Stebbins AKA Odyssey, the audio for the second verse was lost or corrupted, forcing Sugano to settle for a repeat of the first verse.
Years in the future I still linger at your side
I wouldn't dream to have more
(Tonight I'm) eagerly waiting your decision to keep me
Or to leave me as before
- Goldfinger's cover of Nena's "99 Luftballons/Red Balloons", due to the English fourth verse having an unauthorized reference to Captain Kirk, instead uses the German fourth verse, which was the basis for the English third verse.
- The spoken-word coda of Michael Jackson's "Thriller" was supposed to have three stanzas, but the middle one ("The demons squeal in sheer delight...") was deleted. Worse, the radio edit omits the rap altogether.