Friday, January 19, 2007

Friday Coffeehouse: singing books for the home

Every home needs some good singing/music resources. Below are a few I think are pretty essential to have around.

Rise Up Singing: This amazing folk book is wonderful to have on-hand... It doesn't have every song in it but it has most of the gems (especially ones that were well-known between 1950-1980) which our parents sang to us, and most fun kid songs. I love to use it for lullaby singing. It's basically the songbook which every folk-musician owns or knows about. A unique feature of this songbook is that it has a very diferent presentation of guitar chords... a great presentation which I use for all of my own music. The illustrations are also a plus. They are beautifully-done, gentle and strong. Some of them have a sort of new-agey look or feminist side, but it's lovely sketching in general. One of the biggest pluses is that it is spiral-bound, so it is always stays open if you're reading along while playing the guitar.

The Adoremus Hymnal is a wonderful hymnal put together quite recently, in 1997.
It was designed for use both in small parishes with few musical resources and in large parishes with full choirs. Following the general plan in Musicam Sacram, this hymnal consists of three major sections:
1. the Order of the Mass;2. musical settings for the Ordinary of the Mass; and3., an excellent selection of the most beautiful hymns ever written -- for every season of the liturgical year and other feasts and holidays.
The music was selected on the basis of beauty, holiness, Catholic tradition, theological integrity, familiarity and simplicity. All the music is within the capabilities of every Catholic parish. (

For more information go to It's a great hymnal to have around the house as well... great for learning new hymns and harmonies for every season.

Go in and Out the Window: An Illustrated Songbook for Young People ~By Dan Fox
This one is published by Metropolitan Museum of Art, including a delightful and very diverse selection of artwork, prints, ancient tapestries, woodcuts and more to adorn the classic old folk songs such as Down by the Riverside, Greensleeves, The Farmer in the Dell and more.This folksongbook, unlike Rise Up Singing, includes the music for piano, not just guitar tablature. It does include the guitar tabs as well though. What really makes this book unique is the narrative on the side of every song, (directed towards a listening child), which introduces the reader to the song by using the illustration/picture provided.
Here is what he says about the well-known child beloved classic song, The Fox:
"Foxes, both the red and the gray kind, are very pretty animals, with their bright eyes, pointed snouts and ears... But farmers do not like them, for they can do a lot of damage... The designer of this tapestry made the fox very hard to find among all the greenery and flowers. If you look closely,... "(He goes on to tell the reader all about the tapestry which is the illustration on the page, then concludes with an introduction to the song:) "In this old folksong, the fox is up to no good..."
Here is what he writes about the beloved American lullaby, All the Pretty Little Horses:
"This tender lullaby was very popular in the American South, hummed over cradles by parents and nurses. Some people counted sheep when trying to fall asleep, but it is much more pleasant to think, and perhapd dream, of the 'pretty little horses' like the one in this print by the French artist Henri Matisse. He used brilliantly colored paper cutouts to create a joyous circus design..."

In short, Go in and out the Window is a delightful songbook that can provide hours of fun for adults and children to read, learn new songs, learn about different artwork from all different time periods: -Definitely a homeschooling essential to have around!

~Sia, Vancouver, WA

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