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Texts Written by Children

I recently requested songs based on texts written for children. Thanks to
all who responded. The following is the compilation. In some cases, where
there were duplicate suggestions, I did not post them both. Again, thank
you. I look forward to implementing some of these fine suggestions.


David R. White


Younger Generation by Aaron Copland, Text by Ira Gershwin, published
by Boosey and Hawkes.

Jim Davis
Wright State University - Lake Campus


Jh Rutter has at least one of not collectins of songs like this. The one I
is Five Childhood :yrics. It is SATB with divisi on some. Somewhat

Jonathan Veenker j-veenker(a)
Associate Professor of Music office-612/638-6385
Bethel College fax- 612/638-6001
St. Paul, MN 55112


Try "An Evening Falls" by Gordon Binkerd. excellent; unison, text on the
universal coming home each day at sundown to our mothers; accompaniment is
blues piano transcribed from an old roll. A very pleasant, moving piece.
Boosey, I think.
Also, Benjamin Britten "The Birds" works nicely for unison trebles, a
text on Christ's childhood, written when Britten himeself was a teenager, I
Good luck.
Timothy Carney

Director of Choirs
Music Director, O`ahu Choral Society
Hawai`i Vocal Arts Ensemble
University of Hawai'i at Manoa


I know there are settings of the poems from "I Never Saw Another
Butterfly" which is a collection of poems written by children in Nazi
concentration camps. I don't know the composer's name offhand but you
should be able to find it via a title search if you're interested.
Good luck.
--Judy Zuckerman


How about the TTBB version of "Prayer of the Children", written for the
Bosnian children. I believe it is by Nestor--absolutely gorgeous.
M. Springstead
VA. Beach


I have a 2-part piece based on Eugene Field's poem "The Duel," (The gingham
dog and the calico cat.) It's loaded with fun quotes from classics like The
Erlking, Tocatta and Fugue in D minor, and The Rite of Spring as well as
original material in various styles. My "The Duel" is scheduled for release
May from Shawnee Press. I hope that you will take a look when it comes out.

Tom Jordan


Are you familiar with John Rutter's Five Childhood Songs (I think) SATB
written early in his career? I sang it in 1975 in a workshop with Sir
Willcocks and still have a copy somewhere.

Martha jean
Spring Valley Academy


Is this just for the touring choir or will your younger choirs be
performning too? Have you looked at any of Bob Chilcott's new music. It
is somewhat lighter fair, but some of it very well crafted and he has a
knack for speaking to kids. Have you seen his City Songs?

Peter Robb


A delightful setting of the Robert Lewis Stevenson text for SA is "From A
Railway Carriage" by Alton Rinker.

Best wishes,
Mike Ellingsen
Vocal Music and Drama
Blue Earth Area High School


John Tavener'"s settings of "The Lamb" and "The Tiger" are very good SATB
settings of the most famous poems from Blake"s "Songs of Innocence". You
might also find Imant Ramish"s "Songs of the Lights" an interesting piece
to do with a treble choir. It consists of four songs based on texts from
American Indian chants related to night and the coming of dawn. While it
was written for a children's choir, it is by no means easy.

Hope this helps

Maryann Lisk


The first piece of music I recommend is included in

Edvard Grieg, Album for male voices, op.30
choro TTBB + solo baritone

The 2nd set "Badn Lat" (there has to be a small 'o' above both 'a's of
the title) is written for children. It's about about a cat, beating the
drum, the mice are
dancing, etc. The drums as well as the cat are immitated by the male
choir, it's really nice. I do not know if there is an english version,
ask C. F. Peters, NY.

The second recommendation is Hugo Distler, "Kinderlied für Agnes"
(Childrens song for Agnes), included in Hugo Distler, Mörike
Chorliederbuch, op. 19. It is written for choro SATB. "Agnes"
should/could be replaced by other names according to the composer.
Published by Bärenreiter Verlag, Germany. Go


Knut Petersen


A couple of my favorite selections:
1) She Shall Have Music, Nick Page, B&H, Doreen Rao series.
2) Nursery Rhyme Nonsense, Marilyn Broughton, Gordon V. Thompson, Toronto
Children's Chorus series, Jean Ashworth Bartle, editor.
3) Four Is Wonderful, Ruth Watson Henderson, GVThompson, TCC series.
4) The Frog, by Nina Perry, pub. Oxford, #U65. (This one is very difficult
get ahold of. It is only available in the U.K. But it is a real gem, I
Cute and nicely crafted.)

This verse 1-"There was a frog living in a tree, Humbledum-dum,
He sat on a branch, and all day long, puffed himself up and sang a song,
'Humbledum-dum, Humbledum-dee, I wish I were a bird,' sang he." (cute piano
interlude: bird music) verse 2-" 'How charming it must be to fly,
dum, up to the sky. How easy it would surely be, for an elegant, talented
like me, Humbledum-dum, Humbledum-dee.' And with a flourish ... (piano
flourish) ... he leapt from the tree." (more piano: frog-flying music). "
'Now this is really something new, Humbledum-dum,' he sang as he flew. But
This elegant talented frog, finished up head over heels in a bog." (piano:
bog-landing music, with flying-frog trill) " 'Humbledum-dum, Humbledum-dee,
the life of a bird..." (piano: bird music) "... is not for me!"

Jean Dickey, Founder/Director,
The Young Singers Of Colorado


My chorus did a very successful program last spring with the same title.
We included the following:

Five Nursery Rhymes Steven Weber
Cancion del Kuku Ramon Noble (Ricordi Americana,
Jenny Rebecca, Four Days Old Clair McElfresh
This Old Man Chilcott (SSAA)
Are You Sleeping, Brother John? Erkki Pohjola (SSAA)
All the Pretty Little Horses Emily Crocker (SSA)
Lullabies and Nightsongs Book I Alec Wilder
Down by the Riverside John Rutter
Maggie and Millie and Mollie and May Vincent Persichetti
Oh Susanna John Miller
Cantan las flores Michael Mendoza
The Bayou Sara Malcolm Dalglish
Johnny Has Gone for a Soldier Kirby Shaw
Soft Rain Doug Cox (Shawnee--long out of

At other programs I have also had success with:

Bobby Shaftoe's Gone to Sea David Willcocks
Dominic Has a Doll Peter Schickele
Mary Had a Little Blues Charles Collins (SSA)

All of the above are SATB unless otherwise noted.

My best to you! I personally find children's songs to be SO REFRESHING!
My students particularly liked the Weber, Wilder, and McElfresh pieces.

David G. Tovey
Associate Professor of Music
Ohio State University


Irving Fine - Three Choruses from Alice in Wonderland Warner Bros.

Debra Lenssen
Director, Bluffton College Camerata Singers


Check out Voices of Terezin (Pub. Alliance Music, Inc). Three pieces with
text taken from poetry written by children in a concentration camp.
POWERFUL text. Very contemporary, mostly 2-part choral with piano.

Jane Ramseyer Miller
Music Director, Calliope Women's Chorus
Music Director, One Voice Mixed Chorus
Minneapolis, MN


John Rutter: *5 Childhood Lyrics* (SATB div a capp, OUP)
Houston Bright: *The House that Jack Built* (SATB a capp, Shawnee; probably
only archivally)
Gregg Smith: *Adirondack Songs* 1-3 pt treble; acc., available from the
composer; please tell him I sent you--

And John Tavener's *The Lamb*, of course (SATB a capp, Chester)

Robert Ross, Artistic Director
Voces Novae et Antiquae
Philadelphia, PA


I know you said you didn't want "children's" songs, but I know a really
touching song that I sang in children's choir called "One Little Candle."
It is a unison song, but it has a great message, and might even be used
help balance more difficult songs in a program. Anyway, good luck in your
search--I hope this helped.

Jean Beeman


I know you said you didn't want "children's" songs, but I know a really
touching song that I sang in children's choir called "One Little Candle."
It is a unison song, but it has a great message, and might even be used
help balance more difficult songs in a program. Anyway, good luck in your
search--I hope this helped.

Jean Beeman


The group I direct, the Riverdale Choral Society, is currently working on
SATB piece which seems to fit your requirements: Robert Starer, Proverbs
a Son (1990). Publisher: Transcontinental. However, it may be too long
your program--14:45 on the CD (#95009) also pub. by Transcontinental. It
accessible for both singers and audience--my group is enjoying it very
Mimi S. Daitz


Thus endeth the compilation.
Thanks be to the contributors.

David R. White, Director
Florida's Singing Sons Boychoir
Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA
on June 28, 2004 10:00pm
"Lullaby from a Child" David Montoya (Walton) SSAA
on January 30, 2005 10:00pm
A great SSA piece is "Fire" by Mary Goetze, with lyrics composed by a thirteen-year-old girl. The lyrics are wonderful and the music very expressive.
on January 30, 2006 10:00pm
Don't forget:

"Children's Letters to God" by C.M. Shearer

A set of five prayers written by children. Not too terribly challenging, but a crowd-pleaser.

My favorite letter:

"Last week it rained for three days. We thought it would be like Noah
on March 1, 2006 10:00pm
Nick page has work which is a series of poems written by children tittled "I used to be a riddle" some humorous texts yet some profound statements one would not expect from children
on April 24, 2007 10:00pm

I would like to find a copy of a book that I lost many years ago, while working with children's music. The title, I believe, was "Songs We Sing" - they were very singable and easy, understanadable words for little children, and also a few instrumental pieces. Published by a Baptist Church Publishing Company, I believe. (I liked it and used it very much with pre-school children.)
on July 30, 2008 10:00pm
Consider "There was a Naughty Boy" by Argento, from his "A Nation of Cowslips", published by Boosey & Hawkes

Also, a funny text about a younger person's struggle with studying homework, titled "Sophomoric Philosophy" by Raymond F. Dvorak, published in 1951 by Remick Music. The text:

"Plato, Euripedes, Socrates, Diogenes...are known for their philosophies. Philosophy of modern 'Greek' makes ancient logic very weak, A sophomore, the mighty speaks: 'The more you study, the more you know, the more you know, the more you forget, the more you forget, the less you know, so why study? The less you study, the less you know, the less you know, the less you forget, the less you forget, the more you know, so why study!'"