You'll Never Walk Alone

Words by Oscar Hammerstein II; music by Richard Rodgers, 1945

What is the message of this song? How might different people interpret the message differently?

This song came from the musical Carousel in 1945. What was happening in the war then? How would this message speak to people at the end of the war?

What is "walking on" a metaphor for? What other metaphors does the song use? Storm, wind, rain, head high, dark, golden sky.

Usually, walking has a destination. Does this song mention a destination? The end of the storm. What is the difference between trudging and walking on? Hope.

When translated to real everyday life, what does "walking on" mean? What do people do when they "walk on"? Keep on doing what they usually do, take the next "step" without knowing where it will lead.

What does the second part of the message, "You'll never walk alone," mean? If not alone, who will you be walking with? God, others, yourself. Do you agree that "walking on" leads to "never walking alone"? Why? What if you are "marching to the beat of a different drummer"?

What sayings use "walking" as a metaphor? One step at a time; one foot in front of another; every journey begins with the first step; keep on keeping on. Why is walking such a comforting image during adversity? Familiar, routine, purposeful.

When have leaders more recently used similar messages to calm public fears? Why is it important to get people back to their routines? Morale, economy.

Why does this song remain a classic?

"You'll Never Walk Alone," performed by Barbara Cook on Carousel, Universal City, CA: MCA Classics [MCAD-6209], © 1987. Available on iTunes, Spotify, and YouTube.


Broadway Hall of Fame, Tony, Grammy and Drama Desk Award winner Barbara Cook (1927–2017) was considered "Broadway's favorite ingenue" during the heyday of the Broadway musical. The Atlanta native made her Broadway debut in 1951 as the ingenue lead in the musical Flahooley. Next, she played Ado Annie in the City Center revival of Oklahoma!, which was followed by a national tour of that perennial favorite. Her 1954 performance as Carrie Pipperidge in Rodgers and Hammerstein's Carousel led to the role of Hilda Miller in the original production of Plain and Fancy. She went on to create the role of Cunegonde in the original production of Leonard Bernstein's Candide, a part she followed up with her portrayal of Marian the Librarian in the premiere production of Meredith Willson's The Music Man; for this performance, Cook earned a Tony.

Rights have not been secured to reprint the words for this song. Please consult this online source:

The musical Carousel was based on Liliom, a play by Ferenc Molnar. The lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II (1895–1960) and music by Richard Rodgers (1902–79) adapted the original to an American setting. The success of their previous musical, Oklahoma!, convinced the team that American musicals, especially during the war years, were what audiences wanted. They were right: the production ran for 890 performances and garnered several prestigious awards in the process.

You'll Never Walk Alone cover
Sheet music cover for "You'll Never Walk Alone" from the musical Carousel.

This song carries the message that you need to maintain faith—perhaps not a religious faith but a faith in oneself as well as in other people. Just after the male lead is fatally stabbed, this song is sung to console the mother of his child. It is sung again at the end of the musical when his child, now fifteen years old, finds herself also in need of fortitude. War-weary audiences left the theater similarly inspired.

Compare this song to:

"We'll Understand It Better By and By" (Unit 6)



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