Words by: James Thornton (1861-1938)

Music by: Al Jolson (1886-1950)

"When You Were Sweet Sixteen" is a popular song. It was written by James Thornton. The song was published in 1898

The song was inspired by Thornton's wife, Bonnie, when she asked her husband if he still loved her. Thornton replied, "I love you like I did when you were sweet sixteen."

One of the best-known versions of the song was made by Al Jolson in 1929


Cover, sheet music, 1898

LYRICS:  When You Were Sweet Sixteen

1. When first I saw the love-light in your eye,

And heard thy voice, like sweetest melody

Speak words of love to my enraptur'd soul

The world had naught but joy in store for me

Ev'n though we're drifting down life's stream apart

Your face I still can see in dream's domain

I know that it would ease my breaking heart 

To hold in my arms once again


I love you as I never loved before,

Since first I met you on the village green.

Come to me or my dream of love is o’er,

I love you as I loved you, when you were sweet,

When you were sweet sixteen.

2. Last night I dreamt I held your hand in mine

And once again you were my happy bride

I kiss'd you as I dis in Auld Lang Syne

As to the church we wander'd side by side

The love I bear for you can never die

Without you, I had rather not been born

And even tho' we never meet again

I love you as sunshine loves the morn