Many of these songs would be enhanced by a lead singer/song leader demonstrating how the melody goes and teaching it to a group. I try to keep the music going once it starts, not letting the magic of the rhythm and harmony be broken. I give brief instructions over a repeated intro vamp and cue people in. “Lining out” the words a phrase ahead invites and reassures people to jump in. Singing one phrase and getting the group to sing back in call and response works well and can be part of the music, not a rehearsal (where we’re not really doing this yet). Of course, avoid any critical observations (“I know this has never been a singing group.”)
Harmony parts are in many songs and my notes here refer to them a lot. SATB means Soprano, Alto, Tenor, Bass – the usual four parts for a choir.
A Great Big Breath – Samba/latin rhythm. Verse perhaps for a leader or small group and a sing along chorus for all. Everyone literally takes a great big breath in the chorus.
A Song for the Earth – The lyrics describe the water cycle and how we have threatened its life-giving ability. Could be sung by group, though might be best for a soloist. A larger SATB arrangement is available from www.JimScottMusic.com.
Air Moves Us – This short chant is a good vehicle for centering, singing it several times, or might be just sung once or twice as a response. It almost works as a round, but has some dissonance. A two part canon one measure apart can work, (two measures apart has to much of the same notes) or for an interesting harmony try the second part a fifth higher starting on B.
All Around the Child – A song for the Christmas, solstice, holiday season that might be used anytime for celebrating a birth. The piano is an SATB four part harmonization. A more diverse choral arrangement is available from www.JimScottMusic.com.
All The World Is Now One – Not what you might think, from the title. This is an old round with new words. The baroque character of the music make the words funnier as they unfold, I think. This makes a three part round which can be divided between treble and bass voices for a good effect. Kay Eskanazi has done marvelous things with rounds. Check out her book “Pass It Around,” available from songbook@PassItAround.org.
Ancient Mother – This is a simple chant, easily taught. Twice harmonized for harmonic interest.
A Place in the Choir – A great sing along chorus with a message of harmony and diversity. Moves quickly so at least some verses might be done by leader. The refrain can be easily taught by ear and is great for kids.
An Enchanted Isle – A strophic ballad that repeats the some short verse. For variety, the voices of the narrator and the spirits could be represented by trading verses between women and men, or other divisions – left and right sides of the room, etc. Though there are a lot of words, a group can pick up the repeating melody and easily put the words to each verse to it.
An Irish Blessing – This is an easy parting song for the whole group to sing, also nice for a soloist.
Arise! Arise! – A good summer solstice song, this has a chorus for all. The verses can certainly be sung by all as well, but might be better for a soloist or traded between various groups. Several more orchestrated arrangements, including SATB and SAA are available from www.JimScottmusic,com.
Blessed – A lyrical unison verse, good for a group. Chorus breaks into three part harmony that could be taught by ear. Range is from a low G to a high C in the melody, higher E in the harmony. The upper harmony could be read an octave lower as if it is for tenor. In this kind of song, a harmony part in both octaves is not bad.
Blessing – Rolling 3/4 unison melody is easy for group to sing, chorus breaks into two parts. Beautiful parting wish or for right of passage, graduation, etc. The first time through, I would not sing the harmony, and note that the melody of the third phrase of the refrain is the lower line.
Brief Our Days – The Bach choral prelude setting is shortened (and slightly popularized) here to center more on the singing. The four parts for SATB choir are in the piano part except for the last two phrases, which are a repeat of the first two. You can get the original Bach from any music outlet and insert these words. You can find other lyrics that have been done for this famous tune as well.
Building A New Way – Bluesy and energetic, this is an easy song for a leader to teach even by ear. A zipper song, in a way, the verses have repetition of the form that people will pick up quickly.
Calypso Chant – This much loved multi-part song by Harry Belafonte can turn into rich harmony, each line can be sung against the others. Piano can repeat any four bar phrases as long as desired.
Carry the Flame – Three part choral accompaniment is optional. Melody line for leader and audience/congregation sing-along and piano accompaniment will work just fine by itself.
Circle of the Sun – A song full of hope and celebration of the phases of life. Melody is quickly picked up with enough repetition so harmony parts are easy to find.
Common Ground – Samba rhythm. The verse moves fast but can easily be sung by the whole group. Chorus is easily taught by ear and works as a round, one measure apart – piano would have to repeat the lst bar to accommodate. A larger choral arrangement is available from www.JimScottMusic.com.
Cosmic Stew – A humorous song with a lot of science. There’s a lot of words here, but the rock rhythm makes it good fun for kids and adults. An easy little refrain to immediately sing along.
Cycle Song of Life – The melody is easily done by a whole group, and a poignant song for a soloist as well, with participatory refrain. A solo and SATB arrangement is available from JamesDurst.com.
Disguised as Poetry – Here’s a pretty song that can be sung solo or by the whole group. The verses are more gentle and it rises up for the refrain. I’ve altered the melody slightly from Dana’s original.
Earth’s Endless Treasures – Melody easy for group singing. Piano part almost delineates some possible harmony lines. A choral arrangement of this song is available from Ellen Hanson-Ellis.
Far Too Long by Fear Divided – These words have been set to other tunes. I thought we needed a joyous gospel flavored song. Choral SATB or SAB are available from JimScottMusic.com
For the Beauty of the Earth – This hymn is used a a thematic motif in the Missa Gaia /Earth Mass by the Paul Winter Consort. This update of the original harmonization can easily be sung in four parts.
For This We Stand – Good for group singing, though a range of an octave and a fourth. The piano part is a four part SATB harmonization. A bigger arrangement available at www.JimScottMusic.com.
From You I Receive – This simple chant and two part round is most appropriate for rituals from generosity in money offerings to sharing stories and celebrating rights of passage.
Garbage – A great song for kids, and shouldn’t be passed over for grownups too. Serious humor.
Gather the Spirit – I do this swinging the eighth notes and putting Jazz/gospel rhythmic pulse.
Gently Homeward – This can be sung by a whole group or a leader might sing it bringing in the group to sing along with the “Blow the winds blow, gently homeward,” and “Feel the winds…” lines. I change the last phrase to “Blow the winds…” for all verses to get people to sing along by ear. I thought of it as a lullaby, but I’ve been pleased to hear of it being used in a memorial service as well.
Give Yourself to Love – I don’t know if Kate wrote this for a wedding, but the message is more universal than that. It’s one of the great contemporary anthems and well known. The chorus stands well alone as a short musical response.
God Bless the Grass – Typically understated, Malvina Reynolds’ song celebrates a peaceful, conscious revolution. Her classics predate the larger movement that has come after her, or because of her.
Gwaza Universe – These four counterpoint parts can be taught by ear and add up to a complex result. Be aware of how the different parts start in different places and take time for each line by itself.
Habitat – I love to hear kids sing this to adults, inevitably teaching grownups about what’s important.
Harmony – The refrain melody at least is good for group singing. It may take a little teaching to get the modulations – and seems harder when people are reading the music than when they just learn by ear. Arrangements of this song in SATB and SAA are available from wwwJimScottMusic.com.
Healing Circle – Chorus for all, verses could be sung by a leader but are easily done by a group. Vocal harmony can be derived from the piano. This is a good song to just invite harmony singing by ear.
I Am A Seed of Peace – The four part round here adds up and makes a background for the lead melody line. You can go to a capella for a stretch. An SATB arr. is avaiable from Jamesdurst.com.
I Come and Stand At Every Door – A most moving and powerful song for either a leader or the whole group to sing. Possibly solo with group participation in the last verse.
I Will Shelter You – A good benediction or graduation send-off song. Verse could be sung by a leader or the whole group. Verses might be divided between men and women or other sub-groups. The chorus becomes a four part round. You can repeat the “I will shelter you” vamp at the top of the second page and a lead singer can improvise in between the phrases.
If I Had A Hammer – Everybody sing. The three part harmony arrangement is reminiscent of the popular recorded version of this song. Octaves could be changed on the harmony.
Keepers of the Flame – A more complicated song, this is a powerful one for a group to sing the refrain. I would teach it with some repetitions before going to verses, which call for a soloist.
Long Tailfeathers/Hey Hey Watanay – Two parts can be divided any way desired, by voice parts, different octaves or sides of the group. Do one part, then the second, then put them together.
Longest Night – These new words to a well known 3 part round melody are easily taught by ear. The piano part can be repeated any where in four measure phrases, so the accompanist can make an ever-changing accompaniment for as long as desired. Phrases can be taught over the repeating piano.
Love is All Around – This melody is easily taught by ear and is good for kids and adults.
Love Song for Mother Earth – This could be a solo song or for the whole group to sing. The leader might take the verses and just have the group join in on the chorus. It could take a little teaching to show how long to hold “Mother Earth__”.
Love Will Guide Us – Choir can sing the harmony parts and audience/congregation do sing the melody. With six verses you can give one to men, one to women, etc. I was tempted to write a more rhythmic piano accompaniment to go with the vocal harmony, but one has to stop somewhere.
Maisha Ni Safi (Life Is Good) – This song, combining English and Swahili, can be done by the whole group, or could be divided into call and response, either from leader to group or two sides calling out to each other. Top line of harmony part can be done down an octave (read as tenor).
May the Long Time Sun Shine Upon You – These first two parts of this three part round are are somewhat adapted from the original but representative of how groups to have some sing this song now to make a round. The third line is my addition. The round could be repeated as long as desired and four bars the piano accompaniment can be repeated at any double bar (every four bars).
May There Always be Sunshine – This international peace song, combining russian and english is easily taught by ear. Good song for kids, though don’t forget the grownups. I’ve heard “Let the sun shine forever…” instead of “May there always be sunshine.”
May Your Life be as a Song – The refrain comes from a Russian folk song with new verses added. The words I’d heard in English, that start “If the people live their lives…” always bothered me as it was not grammatically a complete sentence. (But some people learned it at camp that way and are attached to it). I was just going to fix the grammer and I ended up adding two verses. It looks pretty syncopated but it’s easy to learn by ear.
Minuit – This is a gwaza or village type song with four independent parts. Each part can be a canon/round with itself every four bars and is generally done introducing one line then the next until all four are put together. We would sing this for quite long time with the Winter Consort, geting everyone to sing the phrases, then just improvise.
Morning Glory – This could be done by the whole group or part could be a soloist. Solid gospel rhythm is recommended, but could be done is many styles. I’ve made it a swing rhythm, though Terry does it with straight rhythm and more mystical than gospel style.
Morning Has Broken – Here is a version of this well known song more reminiscent of the popular version. Optional three part SAB harmony could be sung only on some verses, or by a small group while audience/congregation sings melody. One verse, or part of one, could go to a capella vocal harmony.
Mystery – Written as a solo song and included in the Missa Gaia /Earth Mass by the Paul Winter Consort, this can make a beautiful hymn for an entire group to sing. Verse possibly by a soloist and chorus could be sung by all. An SATB with solo version is available from www.JimScott.Music.com
Nothing But Peace – The chorus becomes a four part round. Verses might be sung by leader or the whole group. The chorus can be taught by ear for audience sing along. Break in to the round only later in the song after the verses are sung and repetition has taught the chorus. Four part round could be four different languages. A more varied SATB arrangement is available from
O Great Spirit – This can be sung as a nice short unison song or it’s a round starting every two \bars.
Of Time and Rivers Flowing – This beautiful widely known melody floats over a rhythmic accompaniment and people can learn this by ear. I took out a couple of syncopations to make it easier to read.
One Earth One Sky – This is short enough to teach the harmony parts, particularly for the “Peace on earth…” refrain. Peace said in hindu, arabic and hebrew as well as english. SATB version is avaiable from KimOler@aol.com.
On Your Way – A short parting song, this can good for sending children or any group on their way, sung by the rest of the group that stays, or as a benediction to all.
Once More the Liberal Year – A Thanksgiving and harvest song. this has an accessible melody for a group to sing, while the piano part can be taken as a four part SATB harmonization. A more up-tempo and orchestrated arrangement of this song with a celtic style triplet instrumental obligato line and rhythm section accompaniment is available from www.JimScottMusic.com.
One More Circle Round the Sun – My favorite song for Solstice and the turning of the year. The unison verse is good for the whole group or as a solo and the chorus last two lines can take harmony parts from the piano accompaniment.
Open Your Heart – This is a song of celebration, also a warning and a call to action. Encourage singing it with more conviction than sentimentality and a moving rhythm.
Over My Head – A three part arrangement, the melody and two harmony parts can be sing by any combination of voices for a call and response style group participation. This makes a good choral piece, assigning the melody or background parts to different voices, though a more fully written out SATB arrangement is available from wwwJimScottMusic.com.
Peace Is – This is easily done by a group, or can be a great song for a leader to take the verses and the chorus can be taught by ear.
Peace is Flowing Like River – Good for the whole group to sing, this is a “zipper song” where the one word change in the verses can be called out and immediately done.
Peace On Earth – This is a good song for kids, though can be beautiful two part harmony with adults as well. It can be repeated and the counter line brought in later.
Plant More Than You Harvest – Both verse and refrain can be sing by a whole group. Verse is a bit high. I took out some of the syncopation’s I typically sing to make it easier to read. It’s still a little complicated, but a melody that’s easily picked up by ear.
Put Me in the Compost Pile – A verse that’s complicated enough to perhaps be better done by a leader or small group (children’s choir). The chorus is easily picked up and the rock rhythm carries it with energy. There’s an extra meaning here for folks who question burial and embalming, etc., but the composting of organic “refuse” message is one for all of us.
Rising Green – A hymn of connections and faith, this is easily learned by a group. A verse might be sung by soloist or small group for variation, the larger group joining in for the repetition of the last lines. The melody might be introduced (or sung later) a capella.
River – Usually sing by a solo voice, the verses can readily be done by the whole group. This well loved chorus is definitely an all join in affair.
Roots and Wings – A good parent to child song, this can be used for graduations and other rights of passage. The chorus is easily picked up by ear.
Season of the Grateful Heart – This melody can be picked up easily enough. The harmony parts (in the piano) are a challenge, to be taken up by a good choir. A more extended SATB choral version, with modulation, is available from www.JimScottMusic.com.
Sing It for the Earth in Need – Written first for children this, as with most kids songs, is appropriate for everyone. Repetition that makes it easily taught, other phrases could be substituted for “I can hear the birds a singin'” to create more verses to fit the occasion.
Shalom Havayreem – Yet another setting of this well know song to add to the mutitudes of others that exist. Here’s a harmonius four part version and then as a round. You can start slowly and build up speed for several repetitions.
Singing for Our Lives – This great “zipper song” can go on and on with new phrases zipped in. Ask the group for ideas for “We are…” This first version of Holly Near’s anthem/chant is from a more recent recording of hers. The second version has the melody on top and could be a capella or accompanied. It can be done gently or more demonstratively, with swing reggae or rock rhythms.
Siyahamba – This South African freedom song has transcended it’s original setting to be a favorite with peace choirs everywhere. When I heard “We Shall Overcome sung by a womens’ choir from the Ukraine back in the days of the Soviet Union, I realized how universal a song can become. This works well a capella, but I added afew notes, in parentheses, to make a rhythmic piano part. Watch out to catch the Alto and Tenor counter lines.
Solstice Carol – In a traditional carol style, the four parts make an SATB harmonization. It’s short enough to be repeated. A verse might be done with just the two treble voices, or the unison melody done down an octave. A larger SATB choral arrangement is available from Jim Scott.
Somos el Barco – With an english and spanish lyric, this makes a great inclusive singing moment. The melody is conducive to harmonizing. Here’s three and four part optional vocal harmony parts.
Swimming to the Other Side – This is a accessible melody for group singing, the first verse can be a refrain taught by ear that comes back at least once at the end and perhaps more, with an optional two part counter harmony.Other verses might be done solo as it’s a lot of words.
Taste and See – This can be taught as a sing along, and the piano part can also be the SATB four parts of an a capella choir.
Temple Round – A round starting every two bars, this makes a beautiful vocal sound with the triplet twists of the melody. Let the rhythm be a little free. The piano shouldn’t become a distraction by over articulating the quick notes. Skip them perhaps, turning the first note of each triplet into a quarter note. As with other rounds, there could certainly be a part where the singing is left a capella.
The Blue Green Hills of Earth – I’ve loved this song since we included it in the Missa Gaia/Earth Mass in 1981. Piano part forms a 4-part SATB harmonization (with tenor in the right hand a lot of the time) if you remove a few bass notes that are added for rhythm.
The Fire of Commitment – Here’s a great celebratory song for everyone with a harmonized refrain for a choir, or it even could be taught by ear. Don’t let the 5/4 time signature scare you.
The Friendly Beasts – This Christmas song is included here for its honoring of the animal’s perspective. I’ve reharmonized it a bit. When there are so many verses, feel free to rearrange the four parts. A verse can be done with a solo or men’s lower ocatave with others singing “oo” on the parts for a nice change. Or have the top two parts sing words with the lower parts on “oo.”
The Fruit Song – This beautiful old four part round makes a great Summer Solstice song, words celebrating fruit harvest through the Summer season. Piano can repeat any phrases as long as desired.
The Garden Song (Inch by Inch) – Many people will know the chorus if not the verses. This works well as a by ear sing along with leader or choir doing the verses.
The Great Storm is Over – Probably conceived as a solo expression, the verse can be sung by the whole group. Chorus breaks into three part SAB harmony. Second staff is intended to be down an octave (not above the melody) though it could work above.
There’s a Moon Out My Window – I thought this was just a kids’ song when I wrote it, but enough adults have told me they like it for me change my mind, mainly as it’s conducive to harmonizing.
The Oneness of Everything – This eco-anthem works well for group singing or a solo voice. The traditional hymn style melody was intended to have a more contemporary feel, not too somber, with steady folk/rock rhythm. The long phrases are a challenge to maintain the meaning the words as all one sentence. SAA, SATB or solo/SATB arrangemenst are available from www.JimScottMusic.com
There’s A Moon Out My Window – An easy by ear sing along for leader and chorus, this can also work fine with the group singing the whole thing. Good for kids with adults joining in on the chorus.
There’s a Way – Harmony parts can be in either upper or lower octave with interesting results.
This Land is Your Land – Everyone knows this song. Here’s Woody’s original verses and others.
This Pretty Planet – This round is teachable by ear. it’s very effective for the whole group to sing each line, then put the round together. Piano can repeat any four bars to go as long as desired.
Vine and Fig Tree – One half of this song (And everyone…”) works against the other half (And into plowshares…”) This has had many changes of lyric, for gender, etc. Originally “And every man ‘neath his vine …” I think, People sing and every one ‘neath their vine…” but that mixes singular and plural. Good luck with your own version.
We Are… – Though this can be sung with just the melody, it’s really enhanced by the counter line. The piano part boils down a vocal accompaniment that Sweet Honey in the Rock does. Ysaye Maria Barnwell had it in 6/8 time which suggests more of the African two-against-three rhythms, but it looks easier in 3/4. Try to keep that rhythmic feel solid but not heavy handed, and not too fast. A choral version of this is available from www.YMBarnwell.com.
We Are All One Planet – Here’s a great refrain for everyone to sing. Verses might be done by a lead singer. The song looks long and following the repeats is complicated but it’s very singable by the whole group. Putting the refrain/verse and the next verse over the same piano part, I’m fearful that someone will try to sing them together (which almost could work). But I risked it to save space.
We Are One We Are Many – This almost-recognizable melody is easy to teach and is low in range. Originally in D, I’ve taken this and others up to a key that’s harder for folk guitar players. Just capo the third fret and play in D.
We Are the Rain and the Rainbow – An easy short melody, makes one wish for a couple more verses to keep singing. Repeat them.
We Shall Not Be Moved – This movement song can incorporate any new lines lines to fit the occasion. Another zipper song, it has repetition enough to invite improvised harmony.
We Stand On Holy Ground – This is a “zipper song ” an easy short melody to pick up, teachable by ear and bringing in new phrases to change each verse. The piano accompaniment can be read as a four part SATB harmonization.
Weaving – John Corrado had written quarter and eighth in a triplet bracket where I have two eighth notes. He wanted to make sure you swing it, and keep it not too fast and laid back.
Welcome the Traveler Home – Here’s a great song for coming back together after a time apart, or for a water communion celebrating elements coming from many sources, etc. An immediately memorable refrain lends itself to harmony
Well May the World Go – A repetitive sing along chorus, easily picked up by ear. The verses might be taken by a leader (or divided between several) or by the whole group, though they go by fast.
What Can I Use Instead?- This seems best for a leader to sing the verses. Kids could do it. It carries a great self-sufficiency message, and recipe.
Where Is the Moon -A rhythmic and somewhat tricky four part round with piano accompaniment. Extra optional piano phrases included to continue as long as desired
Winter Solstice Round – A round that can go to five parts. Good, as the title says, for Solstice celebration as well as for planting. Piano part can repeat any combination of two bar phrases to keep accompaniment going as long as needed.
Wondrous Love (arr. J. Scott and by R. Egan) – This beautiful hymn tune has been done many ways and new words have been made. Here are two variations on the theme one relatively straight forward and one more ethereal. Jim Scott’s can be done as STAB Ray Egan’s version is appropriate to choir performance, though can certainly be sung by all with this interesting accompaniment. The different words could also be interchanged.
World of Wonder – This traditional sounding melody works well for group singing, while the twists come in the accompaniment.
These rounds and variations on round form are in the “Earth and Spirit Songbook.”
All have a written out piano accompaniments as well as chord symbols to support the vocal counterpoint. Keyboard player can repeat phrases as desired to play as long as necessary.
“I Am a Seed of Peace” – James Durst
4 part round, becomes the background for two lead singer verses.
“Long Tailfeathers/Hey Hey Watanay” – Trad. Ojibwe, 2 parts
“Longest Night” – New words by Jim Scott
to a well known 3 part round melody “By the Waters of Babylon”
“May the Long Time Sun Shine Upon You” – Mike Heron. 3 parts This tune from
the Incredible String Band is a favorite anthem at Quaker camps
“Oh Great Spirit” – origin unknown, Native American, 4 part round (every 2 bars)
“Temple Round” – Allaudin Matthieu, sufi tradition 4 part round
“The Fruit Song” – music Henry Carey (early 1700’s) new words by Kay Eskanazi, celebrating fruit harvest through the phases of the Summer season.
“This Pretty Planet” – Tom Chapin, 3 part round
“Where is the Moon?” – Becky Reardon. 4 parts, jazzy,
range an octave and a fifth – moon phases, full moon to new moon
“Winter Solstice Round” – Becky Reardon
A round starting every 2 bars that can go to 4 or 5 parts.
“Gwaza” or “Village Song” forms:
(Pete Seeger says don’t call these by gwaza as that refers to a circumcision ritual, but this type of song with four or more independent parts that can all go together is a relative to a round).
Calypso Chant /Turn the World Around – Harry Belafonte
Gwaza Universe – Nick Page
Minuit – Kieta Fodeba (West African)
Songs where the refrain is a round
I Will Shelter You – Jim Scott
Nothing But Peace – Jim Scott
May Your Life be as a Song – Jim Scott