1. Nay, speak no ill; a kindly word
Can never leave a sting behind;
And, oh, to breathe each tale we’ve heard
Is far beneath a noble mind.
Full oft a better seed is sown
By choosing thus the kinder plan,
For, if but little good is known,
Still let us speak the best we can.
2. Give me the heart that fain would hide,
Would fain another’s faults efface.
How can it please the human pride
To prove humanity but base?
No, let us reach a higher mood,
A nobler estimate of man;
Be earnest in the search for good,
And speak of all the best we can.
3. Then speak no ill, but lenient be
To others’ failings as your own.
If you’re the first a fault to see,
Be not the first to make it known,
For life is but a passing day;
No lip may tell how brief its span.
Then, oh, the little time we stay,
Let’s speak of all the best we can.
Text and music: Anon., ca. 1853