The lyrics are written in an approximation of an African-American accent; such "dialect songs" were common in the era. The title thus means "Mighty (very much) like a rose"; this assessment is addressed by a mother (or perhaps an observer) to her newborn son. The dialect has been modified by some singers, such as Frank Sinatra. Audiences of various cultures and backgrounds have been able to identify with the narrator, the mother, and the child.
Deanna Durbin sang it as a lullaby in the 1943 feature film The Amazing Mrs. Holliday. Other notable recordings include those by Jane Powell, Lillian Nordica, Geraldine Farrar, Vincent Lopez, Paul Robeson, Art Tatum, Wilbur DeParis, Frank Sinatra, Nina Simone, Petula Clark, John McCormack, and Roger Whittaker. An orchestra arrangement was directed by Frank Chacksfield. Bob Becker's xylophone rendition is available performed by McGill University's Amie Watson. In an episode of the British sitcom Are You Being Served? Mrs Slocombe, Miss Brahms and Mr Humphries sang it as a lullaby to two babies. In the play and movie Night Must Fall, the murderer, as played by Robert Montgomery, whistled, hummed, and sang portions of "Mighty Lak' a Rose," a habit that made him identifiable.
The song was Nevin's final composition. He died on 17 February 1901, shortly after composing it, never living to realize the song's success. Stanton died in 1927.
1908 recording of Lillian Nordica singing Mighty Lak' a Rose 2575 KB
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- Go to the Dixieland rendition of "Mighty Like a Rose" on YouTube as performed by the Left Bank Bearcats.
- Deanna Durbin sings "Mighty like a Rose" on YouTube in the role of Ruth Kirke Holliday.
- Like Durbin's, Whittaker's rendition of "Mighty like a Rose" on YouTube has been associated with Christmas. Petula Clark, prior to her rendition on YouTube, explicitly mentioned the song's sentimentality.
- Amie Watson's xylophone rendition on YouTube.
- See the articles on Nevin and Stanton.