What are the lyrics to Dame Vera Lynn’s ‘We’ll Meet Again’ – and what’s the story behind the WWII song?

7 May 2020, 13:46 | Updated: 7 May 2020, 13:51

Dame Vera Lynn
Dame Vera Lynn. Picture: Getty

By Helena Asprou

‘We’ll Meet Again’ has become one of the world’s best-loved wartime tunes – but what are the words and what’s the story behind them?

Here’s everything you need to know about Dame Vera Lynn’s nostalgic Second World War ballad, from its composers and lyrics, to its fascinating history.

What are the lyrics to ‘We’ll Meet Again’?

We'll meet again,
Don't know where, don't know when,
But I know we'll meet again
Some sunny day.
Keep smiling through,
Just like you always do,
'Till the blue skies drive the dark clouds far away.

So will you please say hello
To the folks that I know,
Tell them I won't be long.
They'll be happy to know
That as you saw me go,
I was singing this song

We'll meet again,
Don't know where,
Don't know when,
But I know we'll meet again,
Some sunny day.

We'll meet again,
Don't know where, don't know when,
But I know we'll meet again
Some sunny day.
Keep smiling through,
Just like you always do,
'Till the blue skies drive the dark clouds far away.

So will you please say hello
To the folks that I know,
Tell them I won't be long.
They'll be happy to know
That as you saw me go,
I was singing this song.

We'll meet again,
Don't know where, don't know when,
But I know we'll meet again,
Some sunny day.

Who wrote ‘We’ll Meet Again’ – and what’s the story behind the Vera Lynn song?

Originally released in 1939, ‘We’ll Meet Again’ is a British song composed by Ross Parker and Hughie Charles, and sung by Dame Vera Lynn.

Produced by pianist Norman Keen, it found its fame during the Second World War, resonating with soldiers who had to leave their families and fight for England, and reached No. 29 on the U.S. charts.

Thanks to its moving melody and uplifting lyrics, it was used on the radio during wartime broadcasts, which were designed to provide public information and boost morale after bombing raids.

Following the song’s success, its name was later given to the 1943 musical film, We’ll Meet Again, in which Dame Vera Lynn played the lead role – and in 1964, the recording featured in the final scene of Stanley Kubrick’s film, Dr. Strangelove.

More recently, Lynn performed the song in London on the 60th anniversary of VE day, and today it’s become popular with the British public once again during the coronavirus pandemic.

It’s also played every 5 May to close Amsterdam’s annual Liberation Day concert, which marks the end of the Second World War in the Netherlands.

Who else has performed ‘We’ll Meet Again’?

In 1942, American jazz clarinetist and bandleader, Benny Goodman, recorded a beautiful version of the song with popular singer of the time, Peggy Lee.

The song has even found its way into rock concerts – British singer-songwriter, Rod Stewart, and English rock band, Faces, sang an a cappella version of ‘We’ll Meet Again’ at many of their gigs during the ‘70s, while Johnny Cash released a cover on his 2002 studio album, American IV: The Man Comes Around.

Earlier this month, Dame Vera Lynn and Welsh mezzo-soprano Katherine Jenkins also released a duet of the song to raise money for the NHS’s heroic frontline workers and volunteers as they continue to care for coronavirus patients.

It experienced a recent resurgence of popularity after the lyrics were referenced by Her Majesty the Queen in her address to the nation during the pandemic, and all proceeds from the heartwarming charity recording are being donated to NHS Charities Together.

Dame Vera Lynn, who celebrated her 103rd birthday last month, said: “The words ‘We’ll Meet Again’ speak to the hope we should all have during these troubling times.”

Jenkins added: “As Dame Vera herself has said, while the lyrics of ‘We’ll Meet Again’ take us back to the time of World War Two, the sentiment feels appropriate and meaningful today and relevant to the current crisis.

“It is a song of hope and Dame Vera and I sing this in honour of (and in aid of) our superhero NHS workers and their families. They are putting themselves at risk to ensure we will meet our dearest again.”