what does "Sweet and Low" mean? (From "Music Man" movie)

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CheekySp
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what does "Sweet and Low" mean? (From "Music Man" movie)

Post by CheekySp » Mon Mar 16, 2020 12:55 am

I simply adore the film adaptations of the Golden Era Broadway musicals. One of the latest songs I loved was from the musical "The Music Man",
sung by Shirley Jones and the Buffalo Bills, called "Lida Rose/Will I ever tell you"
Here are the lyrics from the second part of the song:

"Sweet and low
Sweet and low
How sweet that mem'ry
How long ago
Forever
Oh yes, forever
Will I ever tell you?
Oh no"

Now, I'm confused by the combination of "sweet and low", it doesn't seem to make any sense. I know there's a poem by Tennyson of the same name, but it doesn't help me. This expression does seem to be used occasionally in other lyrics as well.
Could someone knowledgeable enlighten me? Does "low" here means something like "quiet"?

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Firefox
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Re: what does "Sweet and Low" mean? (From "Music Man" movie)

Post by Firefox » Mon Mar 16, 2020 7:19 am

CheekySp wrote:
Mon Mar 16, 2020 12:55 am
I simply adore the film adaptations of the Golden Era Broadway musicals. One of the latest songs I loved was from the musical "The Music Man",
sung by Shirley Jones and the Buffalo Bills, called "Lida Rose/Will I ever tell you"
Here are the lyrics from the second part of the song:

"Sweet and low
Sweet and low
How sweet that mem'ry
How long ago
Forever
Oh yes, forever
Will I ever tell you?
Oh no"

Now, I'm confused by the combination of "sweet and low", it doesn't seem to make any sense. I know there's a poem by Tennyson of the same name, but it doesn't help me. This expression does seem to be used occasionally in other lyrics as well.
Could someone knowledgeable enlighten me? Does "low" here means something like "quiet"?
I don't really know for sure, but perhaps it means in a "sweet and low VOICE".

Low voice would mean quiet, like a whisper.

CheekySp
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Posts: 2
Joined: Mon Mar 16, 2020 12:48 am
Status: Learner of English

Re: what does "Sweet and Low" mean? (From "Music Man" movie)

Post by CheekySp » Mon Mar 16, 2020 11:35 am

Thanks for responding, Firefox! Hmmm.. that would make sense, however the context doesn't really support it. In the first verse she's singing about a dream, in the second - about a memory.
Also, check this poem by Lord Tennyson:

Sweet and low, sweet and low,
Wind of the western sea,
Low, low, breathe and blow,
Wind of the western sea!
Over the rolling waters go,
Come from the dying moon, and blow,
Blow him again to me;
While my little one, while my pretty one, sleeps.

Still unsure if it means 'quiet'. Would really love a second opinion..

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