Songs every child should know
It’s generally agreed that knowing songs is crucial in helping children succeed in both music and reading. Indeed, Becky Rusen Wagner, an elementary counsellor with Ohio’s Mariemont City schools, declares, “It is a vital part of a child’s growing and learning process that they are aware of, can recognize and know these songs …
“Knowing nursery rhymes, silly songs and other kids’ songs help them make such a connection between music and reading. Singing helps children grow to be better learners by connecting the two sides of the brain.”
Wagner then compiles her own list of songs which, in her opinion, children should be taught.
“I try to do this in my classroom,” she adds, “but reinforcement at hom e is more valuable than you would imagine.”
Her list includes such perenni al favourites as ABC’S, Clementine, Do-re-mi, Eency Weency Spider, Farmer in the Dell, Georgie Porgie, Happy Birthday, Hokey Pokey, Home on the Range, Humpty Dumpty, If You’re Happy and You Know It, I’m a Little Teapot, It’s a Small World, I’ve Been Working on the Railroad, Jack and Jill, Little Bo Peep, Little Jack Horner, Little Miss Muffet, London Bridge, Mary Had a Little Lamb, Old King Cole … All songs I knew as a child, then taught my own children.
But how things change with the passage of time. I began wondering along these lines when someone gave me the book, “Songs Every Child Should Know: A Selection of the Best Songs of All Nations for Young People,” edited by Dolores M. Bacon and published in 1906. It’s interesting to compare and contrast the songs recommended by today’s educator with those of over a century ago.
Bacon explains her peculiar choice of songs: “Many of the songs included here … are at least a reflection of a time or period in the musical development of a nation; or they have been included here for that nameless quality which results in popularity.”
Under the heading of “Songs of Sentiment,” she includes: “Sleep, my love and peace attend thee, all thro’ the night. Guardian angels God will lend thee, all thro’ the night. Soft the drowsy hours are creeping, hill and vale in slumber steeping. Love alone his watch is keeping, all thro’ the night.” I’ve heard this one before.
Under “Songs of War,” she offers: “O Firtree green! O Fir-tree green! How loyal is thy leafage! Not green alone in summertime, but green in winter’s snow and rime! O Fir-tree green! O Firtree green! How loyal is thy leafage!” Note the Edwardian overuse of exclamation points! This song is new to me.
National hymns garner her attention, wi t h “The Batt le Prayer” being one selection: “Father! I bend to Thee! Life, it was Thy gift, Thou now canst shield it. From Thee I came and to Thee I yield it. In life or death, forsake me not. Father, I bend to Thee.”
“Songs of Patriotism” include “Who fears to meet a glorious death, where shot and shell are flying? And better to die on sunlit heath than ’mid lament and sighing. ’ Tis hard on lonely couch to writhe, and wait for Death’s slow creeping, but when he comes with sharpen’d scythe, we do not fear his reaping.” I would be hard-pressed to teach this song, with its direct emphasis on war, to my children.
“Military Nonsense Songs” include one with which I am familiar, “Yankee Doodle.”
Other selections fall into the “miscellaneous” category.
“Evening Song” begins: “Now reigns deep silence over hill and plain. The weary world is fast in slumbe r lain , whi le through the trees soft murmurs the ev’ning
But how things change with the passage of time. I began wondering along these lines when someone gave me the book, “Songs Every Child Should Know: A Selection of the Best Songs of All Nations for Young People,” edited by Dolores M.
Bacon and published in 1906. It’s interesting to compare and contrast the songs recommended by today’s educator with those of over a
breeze … To thee too may repose relief impart … Now, now sleep thou, too, sleep thou too, my weary, weary heart.” There’s more, but it runs on for another two pages.
Here’s a so-called “Fishermen’s Song,” which might interest a Newfoundlander or Labradorian: “There grows beneath the ocean, Michelemma, eh! Michelemma! There grows beneath the ocean, michelemma, eh! Michelemma! O-ho! A lettuce!”
On second thought, perhaps not. I think I’ll stick with “Old Macdonald Had a Farm, E-I-EI-O.”
There are Shakespeare songs, as well, but I’ll sidestep those, as I did so poorly with the Bard of Avon when I was in school.
IN CHAMBERS — Members of the Clarke’s Beach town council discuss an issue during a Feb. 13 meeting. They include, from left, councillors Roland Andrews and Winston Vokey, Deputy Mayor Kevin Hussey, Mayor Betty Moore, town clerk Joan Wilcox, and councillors Garry Benell, Eldon Snow and David Moore.