Advertise on ChoralNet 
ChoralNet logo
The mission of the ACDA is to inspire excellence in choral music through education, performance, composition, and advocacy.

Graduations: General repertoire

Here are the suggestions I received. Some secular, some sacred. Many
thanks to all of you that responded! It seems that many of you are in
the same situation, so I hope this is of help. Good luck everybody!

Aaron Copland's "The Promise of Living" from The Tender Land.
Scoring is for piano 4 hands (can be done on one piano). Tessitura is a
high, but do-able.

You'll Never Walk Alone, from R & H's Carousel comes to mind. In the
play, it is sung at a graduation ceremony! I'm sure there are good
arrangements. Of course that (and Climb Every Mountain, from The Sound
of Music) might incite your gag reflex too much. But remember, the
cheesier it is to us musicians, the more the audience LOVES it!

I used a great song for our kids
graduation called "It's time to go". It is written by Jay Althouse and
published by Shawnee Press Inc.
You are the new Day-SATB w/ divisit-King's Singers et al

"Prelude to peace" is a nice one--can't think of the composer at the
moment. Or, Rutter's "For the Beauty of the Earth"? Good luck!

"Seasons of Love" arr. Emerson From the musical Rent, I've used this with
combo, (piano, guitar, drums). The students and adults loved it!

"He Never Failed Me Yet" This is a great song if you can get away with the
sacred text in your community.

"With One Voice" arr. Paul Oakley I'm using this one this year. It takes
an accomplished accompanist.

"Say it With a Song" Don Besig. This may be close to the gag reflex, but
nice song, and no where close to the "Friends" or "Dare to Dream" scale.

"Who Are The Brave" Joseph Martin. This is a great song. I've used the
TTB version. But there is also an SATB

"Here's To Song" by Allister MacGillivray, arranged by Lydia Adams,
published by McGroarty Music Publishing Canada. There is both a treble
voice (SA I think, could be SSA) and an SATB version available.
Some favorites of mine: We are One--Pote (Hinshaw); May Your Sun Forever
Shine--Smith (Alfred); Prayer for Tomorrow --Nygard SSA (Hinshaw). The
time favorite for our seniors is the King's Singers Lonesome Road--that
the possibility list every year. I have not looked for anything yet this
and would love to hear what your responses were. Another one that
requires a mature class to understand and select "Seeds Grow
to Plants" by Rutter.
Randall Thompson: *The Road Not Taken;* *Choose Something Like A Star*
(different imagery from the one you describe); *A Hymn for Scholars and
Pupils* (all ECS)

Howard Hanson: *Song of Democracy* (SATB & band; Carl Fischer)

I also have an arrangement of *Gaudeamus Igitur* for SATB &
brass/percussion/organ ensemble that might work well.

Hope this helps,
Robert A.M. Ross, Artistic Director
Voces Novae et Antiquae
Philadelphia, PA

What accompaniment forces do you have? One of my works was written for the
installation of our new president here at Cal State, San Bernardino, and
would be great for graduation too (festive, "big" sounding; see text
below). It's about 4 minutes long, for chorus, handbells (can be played by
the singers while they sing) and either wind ensemble or orchestra. Let me
know if you want to take a look at it.

Larry McFatter, DMA
California State University
"Peace I Leave With You" by Rene Clausen (Mark Foster pub.) is a
fantastic, lyric piece very suitable for graduation. Take a look, I think
you'll like it.


I'm not sure about the gag factor, but there is a nice piece by Carl
Nygard, Jr. titled "Now the World is Yours." I have done it with high
school students in a summer camp and use it sometimes in conducting class.
It is lyrical with a little syncopation, a lot of unison with some easy
four part chordal sections, accomp. The last verse text is "Now the world
is yours, Go out and change tomorrow. Now the world is yours; Go out and
make it better." etc.

It is published by Hinshaw (HMC-581).


The Lord Bless You and Keep You - Rutter or Lutkin
Gaelic Blessing - Rutter
Seasons of Love (from Rent) - arr.Emerson
True Colors- arr. Huff
The Irish Blessing - Chester Alwes
Write Your Blessed Name, O Lord - Dale Grotenhuis

Preety good stuff here. Not too sappy or cheezy.

I strongly recommend "Road Not Taken" from "Frostiana" by Randall Thompson.
Great text, superb music, and this is Thompson's anniversary year besides.
You won't gag, I promise.

I have two suggestions. John Rutters "Rhe Lord Bless You and Keep You"
or the song "This is the Moment" from the broadway musical Jekyll and Hyde.
These are two I have used in receint years. I hope this could be of help
help to you.
Hi Anne,
I can't resist the opportunity to plug my song"Everyone Suddenly Burst Out
Singing" Available from Boosey & Hawkes New York. I believe it costs $1.25.
It was written for high school students, as at that time I was a high
music teacher in my second year out of college!
I hope it won't make you gag! It has made a few tears, though.

Take care
Peter Willsher,


"Here's To Song" by
Allistar MacGillivray would be my choice.


How about Randall Thompson's The Road Not Taken--from the Frostiana suite?


"Think On Me", James Mulholland (text and melody, Mary Queen of Scots)
Colla Voce Music, Inc. (available in several voicings--SATB, treble,
A superb piece for graduation is Homilius' "Deo dicamus gratias"

It is a contapuntal setting in 18th century style. Fabulous voicing
and can be performned a
cappella. The text: Thank God!

There is a setting of "A Parting Blessing" by J.Jerome Williams that I
was first introduced to in High School. It was a traditional piece
there, and might be a possibility of what you're looking for.
It is published by Shawnee Press, Inc; catalog number A-1286; and I have
it for A Cappella SATB Chorus.

Though I don't have the piece in front of me, there's always the setting
of the Robert Frost poem "A Road Less Traveled" (at least I think that's
the title) by Randell Thompson. I don't have a copy of the piece, but it
is for piano and SATB chorus.


For several years we have been asked to sing for the commencement
ceremonies at our state university. While we will sing sacred texts such
as various arrangements of "An Irish Blessing" or spirituals like Warren
Martin's "Great Day," we also are requested to sing secular music with
texts which reflect upon commencement. Here are a couple which echo the
sentiment, but that I hope will not be too sentimental for your use:

"Choose SOmething Like A Star" and "The Road Not Taken" - Randall Thompson
"The Promise of Living" - Copland
"Make Our Garden Grow" - Bernstein

Best of luck with your search.
on October 16, 2002 10:00pm
I did a piece last year titled "Wanting Memories by Ysae M. Barnwell. It is the best piece for graduation I have ever done. With Vocal percussio in the male parts and females not only singing difficult rythms but a great text, everyone should have this in their library. People are still comming up to me six months later commenting on this one.
on February 11, 2003 10:00pm
I wrote an SAB piece with piano called "Beyond". It's a farewell piece that has both a secular and sacred version. Encourages and inspires and is also an expression for those "left behind" to extend their love and support. You can go to and download the scorch plug-in to see and hear the music.
on April 11, 2004 10:00pm
Brian Tate's "Gate Gate" is lovely (earthsongs)- a Sanskrit text alternating with its English translation - "Gone, everybody gone to the other shore - no more tears, no more suffering". Not specifically graduation, but an extremely positive text, very rhythmic (meter alternates between 6/8 and 3/4 with a little 7/8 later in the piece). I have used this to wonderful response.

"I Believe I can Fly" (arr Teena Chinn, Warner Bros) is also very effective. Yes, it is a pop tune, but the text is great, it is very singable, and Teena Chinn has done a nice job with the arrangement.
on April 19, 2004 10:00pm
One of the best selections we have used for graduation is Patti Drennan's "Dare To Dream". It has a very appropriate text and beautiful melody. Appropriate for all ages.
on May 20, 2005 10:00pm
If you are a self-professed musical snob like me who isn't crazy about having her choirs sing shallow pop songs or songs with cheezy texts for graduation (even though I sometimes do!), take a look at Rene Clausen's "Simple Gifts." It is beautiful, quality music which everyone knows has universal appeal. It is a cappella, in case you have trouble getting a piano into the place where your graduation ceremony occurs (which I do). If using a religious text is an issue in your community (which it is in mine), this is a timeless text that is appropriate for graduation and is not blatantly religious. The tune is beautiful and is probably going to be to be familiar so will have wide appeal for graduation audiences, which tend to be very diverse in age and musical tastes. The choral arrangement is exceptionally well-crafted (gorgeous, even)and will show off a nice chior sound, if you can handle 8 part divis. It sounds more ominous than it is! The divisi is not too difficult, you probably just want to have the numbers (I did it with 40 singers. . .probably wouldn't work as well with just 20 or less.). The ending is somewhat aleotoric, but can be easily adapted/modified for the occasion.). I have never gotten more positive feedback than I did when my sschool performed this at graduation last year!
on December 12, 2007 10:00pm
I have been looking for music but I have liked the circles of our lives. Blessing, Here's to song,