“The Cowboy's Dream”

Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1893 ("Cow-Boy Life in Texas")
Keywords: cowboy religious dream
Found in: US(Ap,SE,So,SW) Canada(Ont)


"One night as I lay on the prairie... I wondered if ever a cowboy Could drift to that sweet by and by.... Roll on, roll on, roll on, little dogies, roll on, roll on...." A cowboy's reflections on the afterlife, with the images cast in herding terms


An extended discussion of the authorship of this piece is found in Thorp/Fife. What it seems to boil down to is that several people played a role, and none can claim the whole thing.

It was apparently built around "(In the) Sweet By and By," but I've always heard it sung to "My Bonnie." - RBW

Cross references



  1. Randolph 185, "One Night As I Lay on the Prairie" (2 texts, 1 tune)
  2. BrownIII 516, "The Great Round-Up" (1 text)
  3. Hudson 95, p. 227, "Cowboy Meditations" (1 text)
  4. Larkin, pp. 105-108, "The Cowboy's Heaven" (1 text, 1 tune)
  5. Thorp/Fife VI, pp. 66-86 (19), "Grand Round-Up" (9 texts, 3 tunes)
  6. Fife-Cowboy/West 122, "The Grand Roundup" (2 texts, 1 tune)
  7. Lomax-FSUSA 61, "The Cowboy's Dream" (1 text, 1 tune)
  8. Lomax-ABFS, pp. 410-411, "The Cowboy's Dream" (1 text)
  9. LPound-ABS, 75, pp. 166-167, "Cowboy Song" (1 text)
  10. Darling-NAS, pp. 3309-331, "Roll On, Little Dogies" (1 text)
  11. Silber-FSWB, p. 112, "The Cowboy's Dream" (1 text)
  12. Saffel-CowboyP, p. 182-183, "The Cowboy's Dream" (1 text)
  14. Roud #4453
  15. BI, R185