Lyrics to Down in the Valley aka Spider’s Web – An American Folk Song

Patsi wrote me,

I used to sing this a long time ago but I only remember the chorus. We sang this at Girl Scout Camp…

Down in the Valley

Down in the valley,
There is a mission
Down by the old oak tree
Down by the mission,
There is a fountain
Where my love told me:

There’s a web like a spider’s web
Made of silver light and shadows
Spun by the moon in my room at night
It’s a web made to catch a dream
Hold it tight ’til I awaken
As if to tell me my dream is all right

On the evening
I was leaving
My love dreamed of me
I was sleeping,
She was weeping
When she said to me:

There’s a web like a spider’s web
Made of silver light and shadows
Spun by the moon in my room at night
It’s a web made to catch a dream
Hold it tight ‘til I awaken
As if to tell me my dream is all right

I met a stranger,
His name was Danger
We rode side by side
Way down in Santa Fe,
I killed a man they say
Danger told me, “Ride!”

There’s a web like a spider’s web
Made of silver light and shadows
Spun by the moon in my room at night
It’s a web made to catch a dream
Hold it tight ‘til I awaken
As if to tell me my dream is all right

And now if I return,
They will hang me
High from the old oak tree
Down by the mission,
Down by the fountain
Where my love told me:

There’s a web like a spider’s web
Made of silver light and shadows
Spun by the moon in my room at night
It’s a web made to catch a dream
Hold it tight ‘til I awaken
As if to tell me my dream is all right.



UPDATE: I’ve learnt that the song above is most commonly called Spider’s Web. Down in the Valley is a different American Folk Song.

Please go to Mama Lisa’s World’s USA Page for more American songs.

This article was posted on Monday, October 3rd, 2005 at 1:26 pm and is filed under American Folk Songs, American Kids Songs, Animal Songs, Children's Songs, Countries & Cultures, Down in the Valley, English, Folk Songs, Languages, Songs by Theme, USA. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

40 Responses to “Lyrics to Down in the Valley aka Spider’s Web – An American Folk Song”

  1. Shadowdragon Says:

    I too remember it from girl scout camp. It was a long time ago, but I still remember the chorus. I remember my mom getting the lyrics for me when I was ten because I didn’t know all of the right words and went around the house singing it all the time. For some reason, this song has stayed with me all these years. I am so glad that another person has fond memories of it.

  2. Mariena Says:

    I remember it, and I keep looking for the tune to it. I cannot remember it all. We sang it in rounds, and only sang part of it. I think it is also called “Spider’s Web.” If anyone can help me find the song online to download, I would be much appreciated. Let me know at

  3. Lyss Says:

    I love that song my friend and I are going to sing it in the talent show.

  4. Linda Forney Says:

    I know the chorus of “The Spider’s Web” song very well, but I don’t know the tune to the verses. Does anyone know how the tune goes?

    I learned this at Girl Scout camp and I played it a lot on my guitar. Other songs I remember were “Barges, I would like to go with you…”, and “Rickety, Tickety, Tin”, “Go to Sleep my Little Baby, ”
    Where oh, where is Liberty.” I am sure I could remember more if my memory was jogged by others familiar with those old Girl Scout campfire songs.

  5. Hanah Says:

    I seem to be the only one who knows the tune… well, i’m sorry, i don’t know anywhere you can find it online. And i can’t put me singing it online, partly because i have no idea how to do that and partly because i’m a terrible singing. I think you can find it on web sites for girl scout camps in the poconose (i spelled that wrong). well, thanks for the lyrics! i actually knew a different version, but couldn’t remember all the words for the other one till i read this one. bye!

  6. Will Says:

    My mother was in the girl scouts when she was younger, and she used to sing this song to me every night before I went to sleep. It makes me so happy to see this folk song and be able to find all the words for me to sing to my children some day.

  7. Erika Says:

    I have been looking for this song for years! I am so delighted to have the lyrics. Thanks!!

  8. Margaret Says:

    Here is the tune! I uploaded it to YouTube, hope you all enjoy it, I’m not a pro singer, but I had to respond – for the kids who haven’t heard this.

    Here is the link again, please let me know what you think?


  9. Lisa Says:

    That’s lovely!

    I posted the song Spider’s Web with the video, lyrics, a midi tune and sheet music. Click the link to get to its song page. Thanks to Magaret for letting me post the video!

    If anyone knows more about the history of Spider’s Web, I’d love to learn more about it.

    -Mama Lisa

  10. Lisa Says:

    Margaret wrote me, “The song originates with the 1800 era Kentucky settlers – I’ve no idea how the girl scouts got it but they kept it alive & that is the important thing. ;) “

  11. little coyote Says:

    I learned it in girl scouts also in Oklahoma in the late 60’s. totally loved it and still remember it. I learned slightly different lyrics for chorus:
    There’s a web like a spiders web
    Made of silver, light, and shadow
    That I weave in my room each night.
    It’s a web made to catch a dream,
    Hold it there until I wake up,
    So I know that my dream is alright.

    another girl scout favorite I just heard on Walmart radio and learned it is a Hebrew song
    Donai Donai though we were singing the Joan Baez version Donna Donna
    I really appreciate Google and the internet for returning this to me. also heard when I was young a group touring from South Africa, Marais and Miranda- lots of fun songs
    google them–Zulu warrior, the cat came back, and others.
    ah, childhood. I was a world music fan before there was a term for it.

  12. kristin Says:

    what are the lyrics to “barges?” I sing a made-up version to my son. I’d love the real words.

  13. Shaima Says:

    it’s a beautiful lyrics
    but i want the song itself

  14. v.marie Says:

    Let’s see if I remember Barges correctly–I learned it in Camp Fire camps:(many moons ago :-) )

    Out of my window
    looking in the night
    I can see those barges
    flickering light.
    Silently flow the rivers to the seas
    and those barges do flow silently

    Barges, I would like to go with you
    I would like to sail the ocean blue
    Barges, are there treasures in your hold?
    Do you fight with pirates brave and bold?

  15. Tinker Jack Says:

    Dear Lisa,

    I am waiting so much for your new you tube songs….. maybe for easter you sing something, Mollly Melone and the dream catcher lullaby are always with me, and i can thank it for you …

    Tinker Jack

  16. Lyn Moan Says:

    Oh! Thank you so much! My friend many years ago (about 40 years ago!) came back from Girl Scouts and sang this–I only learned the Chorus–which I remembered as “There’s a web like a spider’s web, made of silken line and thread ‘n’ spun by the moon in my room at night, it’s a web made to catch a dream, hold it there until I waken, as if to tell me that dream is alright” and have wished I knew the verse(s) forever! Bless you!


  17. Myra Says:

    I love this song! Reminds of my Camp Counselors “Poncho” and “Cisco” at Camp Rocky Point in North Texas in the mid ’60’s. Wonder how the Girl Scouts got ahold of it?

  18. Samantha Says:

    Thank you so much for posting this! I learned it 30 years ago through Camp Fire and have been wanting to teach it to my daughter (a current Girl Scout). I have 2 GS songbooks and it is not in either of them! Now I remember singing it like it was yesterday!

    Thank you!!!

  19. Angi Says:

    I have remembered this for so many years! Except for the last part and I finally decided to look for it on-line today and here it is! I will be forty seven years old next month and I have forgotten a lot of things but this song has stayed with me since Camp Fire Girls.

  20. shalaina Says:

    How do I download just the music? I need just the instrumental for girls camp? Thanks

  21. Lisa Says:

    We might be able to make a midi tune if that helps, let me know and I’ll see what I can do.

  22. Lisa Says:

    We do have a midi of Spider’s Web already online… You cna access a short score at the Spider’s Web song page.

  23. Mitchell Says:

    My Dad was in the Navy and out to sea alot so my Mom being the girl scout leader took me along to the girl scout campouts. I can remember singing this song among others. I have been singing it to my two year old along with the Titantic song and tons of old folk songs that my Mom would sing as a kid. Thank God for Google to come across the words and the video of the song. thanks for posting this.
    Semper Fi,
    Mitchell Bell

  24. Kim Hasse Says:

    I am so thrilled. I just sang it to my boyfriend a month ago telling him it is a song that has stayed with me since I was a little girl at brownie and girl scout camp in Iowa. Ah I am not a singer and I did not do it justice. I am excited to share with him my find!
    I would beg each night we sing it as it always made me cry. I always wanted an encore! I did not have a clue to what I was singing but that melody just hit my core! STRANGE camp song for such young girls? But not really because it touched our souls! Thank you so much to Margaret for singing it and you for posting all the info.
    I am 49 now and it makes me cry now. I just love this song.

    The camp was called Camp Gaywood :o I am sure they have renamed it. And there were many divisions I stayed in Terrace of the Winds both years!

  25. Julie Says:

    I am 40 and both Spider Web and Barges have ALWAYS stayed with me since I learned them through Girl Scouts!! So much fun reading of other ladies who share these memories, too! I just sang Spider Web (Chorus only, I never learned or just never remembered the verses) to my 13 mo old daughter less than 30 minutes ago! Thanking God for the Girl Scouts in my life and for these beautiful connections with you all!

  26. Margaret B. Says:

    Thank you all so very very much for the compliments to this video. I’ve heard so much good and it truly warms my heart, I’ve almost cried over the compliments. I’ll post another one as soon as I can find a way to do the piano and guitar parts. It’s called ‘Cradle Song’ and it’s truly both haunting and lovely. I do hope you all love it as much as this.
    All the best and again, Thank You!
    Contributed so far ‘Spider’s Web’ and ‘Molly Malone’ which I’ve learned is also sung -much faster- as a drinking song in Ireland, I’ve even seen Bono of U2 singing it in concert. That was wonderful.

    Thanks to Mama Lisa for this great site, And Hey Mama Lisa, this email included is my new current one!!

  27. Lisa Says:

    Thanks Margaret! We love your videos and we can’t wait to see your new one! xo Mama Lisa

  28. Hayden Says:

    I learned this song in fourth grade, when I lived in Washington State. I’ve remembered it all these years and was curious as to whether I got the lyrics right. Turns out I did!

    Thanks so much for posting this!

  29. Ami Says:

    I learned this songs as a Camp Fire girl in the 70’s at Camp Hiwela in Wild Rose, Wisconsin. I LOVE this song!

  30. Carol Says:

    This song was etched in my memory over the 13 years I spent at Camp Furnace Hills, Denver, PA. I was a camper, CIT, and Counselor for 2 years. Because of my experiences as a GS ( the first summer I was employed I worked on kitchen staff for 4 weeks) I majored in food service.
    I sang Spider Web to my sons and now sing it to my 4 granddaughters at bedtime. Thanks for the complete lyrics I had forgotten the 2 nd verse over time.

  31. Pam Says:

    I, too, learned the chorus at Girl Scout camp many, many years ago. I was trying to remember the words so that I could sing it to my grandchildren. There are a plethora of spider webs outside at my daughter’s house which brought the song to mind. I’m happy to say I remembered the words correctly and was interested to see that there were verses to go with the song. Thank you for posting the words and tune!

  32. Dee Says:

    Wow! So many Girl Scouts here, and only one other Camp Fire Girl like me. I’m 50 now, and the chorus to the melancholy “Spider’s Web” never left my head from my pre-11 years. It’s nice to know the lyrics to the verses to after all this time. And even nicer to know there are others out there who remember this haunting tune, besides my mom and me. :) Thanks Lisa!

    I have to add that, as an Early Childhood Educator and Instructor, I don’t feel that these lyrics are appropriate to teach to young children today. This is unfortunately true of many – if not most – of the songs we have inherited and continue to label as beloved children’s songs. Songs like “Daisy, Daisy” or “Bill Bailey” which include lyrics with adult themes of courting, marriage and separation, or, as with “Spider Web”, murder and hanging, are not portraying the type of messages that we should be teaching and sharing with children. Even if they do make us feel so nostalgic and warm inside!

    (PS: Just think about the lyrics to “Billy Boy, Billy Boy; First, he tells us that he’s “been to take a wife”, then he tells us – again and again -“she’s a young thing and cannot leave her mother”. It just sounds gross!

  33. Karen Cravens Says:

    Well, I’m 66 years old and I either learned this song at GS camp White’s Landing on Catalina Island or at Whip-Poor-Will in Ohio. I purchased the PAX Lodge songbook at the National GS convention last fall. They have Spider’s Web on page 77 and have rewritten the words to make them politically correct.

    All through the years we have hopes and fears as we learn and grow.
    Seems like yesterday we were all at play but we’ve come to know

    We must build our webs so that we are fed by love’s strength and light.
    Not like yesterday we must find our way searching for what’s right.

  34. Mindy Says:

    I had no idea that there was more to this song than the beautiful chorus! Thanks so much for sharing. It’s really eerie words, though. They remind me of the sad song Katniss sings in The Hunger Games.

    As a note, I always learned the end of the chorus to go “as if to tell me my dream is of you.” Which I like better. :)

  35. Heidi C Says:

    Love the spider web song and also learned it at girls camp. Thrilled when my daughter asked me about it and I sing it to my Grandson too. Such a beautiful chorus and melody. It’s a song with a story and I use to imagine it as a movie in my mind. Thanks for the sheet music. (Hillsboro NH Girls camp)

  36. Allie Says:

    I know I’m echoing others, but I’m so happy to find the lyrics here that I just have to say it: this song, which we called “Spider’s Web,” has been running through my mind for nearly sixty years, but because I could only remember a few fragments of the verses (hard to forget “I met a stranger/His name was Danger” and “Down in Santa Fe/I killed a man, they say”!) it’s always been one of those nagging memories that I always meant to search, but never did. Today, you all, with your memories, and Mama Lisa, for making this available, have helped me come a little bit more full circle. Thank you!

  37. Leslie Says:

    Wow I am truly thrilled to touch that long ago part of my Distant past that has remained as the vaguest of memories but Cherished. The chorus I sang to my children but I just couldn’t capture the rest. Only the haunting feeling remained.

    This is such a gift!

  38. elena peak Says:

    This song, I know it as Spider’s Web, I learned as a Camp Fire Girl in the seventies. It has stayed with me for 40+years. Always have loved it and have enjoyed it around many campfires since then. So melodic and beautiful. Thank you so much. Never have I known another person who is aware of this piece. You are my angel today🙂

  39. Beth Says:

    I know I am echoing everyone else, but I too am just so pleased to have found these lyrics! I learned the song in Girl Scouts summer camp in NH, and the refrain has stuck with me for over 50 years. I did use it as a lullaby for my children, but since I only could remember the words to the refrain, it wasn’t a very long lullaby (although I would hum the tune to the verse, then just sing the refrain again). I have been asking others all these years if they knew the song, including my good friend from GS camp, but no one else knew or remembered it. Thank you so much!

  40. Lynne Says:

    This is fantastic! I always wondered if, after almost 60 years, I had the tune right. And I did! Often sang it to my children as a lullaby and they loved it too.
    I had a few different words…”I met a stranger. His name was Danger. We traveled side by side. Then in Santa Fe, I shot a man one day. Now I have to run.”
    What an odd thing to sing to your kids before sleep, people would say!!

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