M-O-T-H-E-R (A Word That Means The World To Me)

This World War I era song of appreciation for Mother was written by American Navy-veteran and song-writer Howard E. Johnson (1887–1941).

It was set to a tune, which was probably composed for the text, by American musician and popular-music composer Theodore F. Morse (1873–1924).

Many people only sing the chorus, but the original song also has two verses.

It is frequently sung in churches on Mother's Day / Mothering Sunday - but it has no specifically religious words, and can be used in any setting.      

Canadian-born popular singer and entrepreneur Henry Burr (born Harry McClaskey) made the first recording of the song.   A performance by Eva Tanguay, (1878-1947) drove sales of sheet music which was first released in 1915 by Leo Feist Inc of New York, USA.



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Singer, self-accompanied on guitar:

A youth-group choir with electronic organ can be seen on Facebook.

Singer, accompanied by his mother on piano:

Professional singer with piano backing:

Singer with ukulele-led band:

Whole song:  singer with piano, sheet-music on screen:


1. I've been around the world, you bet,
but never went to school.
Hard knocks are all I seem to get, perhaps I've been a fool.
But still, some educated folks, supposed to be so swell
Would fail, if they were called upon a simple word to spell
Now if you'd like to put me to a test
There's one dear name that I can spell the best:

"M" is for the million things she gave me
"O" means only that she's growing old
"T" is for the tears were shed to save me
"H" is for her heart of purest gold
"E" is for her eyes, with lovelight shining
"R" means right, and right she'll always be.
Put them all together, they spell "MOTHER",
A word that means the world to me.

2. When I was but a baby, long before I learned to walk,
While lying in my cradle, I would try my best to talk.
It wasn't long, before I spoke, and all the neighbors hear't
My folks were very proud of me for "Mother" was the word.
Although I'll never lay a claim to fame,
I'm satisfied that I can spell this name.