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

Christmas by voicing: Elementary school

Date: Tue, 24 Jun 1997 14:03:18 -0500
From: Bret & Lisa Nason (bretlisa(a)
Subject: Elementary Christmas Music Compilation

Our elementary school kids will be studying different countries next year
and I was asked to design the Christmas Program around the specific
countries each class will be studying. (K-Japan, first grade - Mexico, 2 -
Germany, 3 - Ireland, and 4 - Italy). I asked for help in locating songs or
resources to help me find easy, unison, traditional Christmas or winter
songs from these countries. I haven't checked out all the sources yet, but
I thank all who responded. If anyone else out there missed my original post
and has some ideas for me, I'd appreciate the help! I'm sorry if the
compilation seems too long, but I did try to pare it down to the bare
essentials. Here are the EDITED replies..... :-)

(My original post didn't mention which countries we were studying, so not
all responses are geared toward the countries I need.)

Bret Nason

I have a lot of resources acquired over the years as our school focuses on
one country a year. Have you tried the curriculum reources at the Kennedy
center website?

Another possible on line source is

Finally consider trying to find an English-speaking musician in the country
you are interested in and communicating directly with that person as a
source of children's sings and games from that country. Check out Pat
Shehan Campbells books on music form other countries and World Music Press
which was bought out by someone this year, maybe by West Music of
Coralville, Iowa
. [now published by Plank Road Publishing --webmaster]

For Japan find a good arrangement of the song Sakura. That's the country I
am focusing on next year so I haven't really styarted assembling stuff yet.
Lots of books have Sakura. The range will be a problem unless you have some
kids who can sing in head voice. If you have access to a Japanese
consulate, there are books of Japanese children's songs.

There are tons of Irish resources available. In the old MacMillian sixth
grade book (the one just called Music) there is a Yuletide song called
Carol from an Irish Cabin and it's not religious at all. I'd use
that in a winter concert anyday and third grade could easily sing it. Other
fun stuff includes MacNamara's Band in MacMillan and in the old Silver
Burdett Making Music On Your Own fourth grade a gig called Nine Penny Fidel
that could easily be danced as a circle dance.

Italy - my fourth grade chorus routinely sings Mary Gaoetze's arrangement
of Dormi Dormi in Italian but this might be too religious for your setting.
It's a Christmas Lullabye unison with great contrasting sections
including Fa la la's. Buon Natale is another possibilty. O solo mio pops
into mind but I don't have a source for it.

For Mexico include Feliz Navidad perhaps and the stuff from the MacMillan
Music third grade text on Holidays in Mexico.

For Germany O tannenbaum, Mein Hut Er Hat Drei Ecken.

Janice Smith (jpsmith(a)
You might be able to find something from JW Pepper Called Christmas Around
The world. I've seen it before. I don't know who the Arranger is, but I
do have a copy at my school.

Tim Shields (SHIELDT(a)
There are many lovely Ukrainian Christmas carols. We have published a few
of them with the original language in phonetics. A few of them also have
English lyrics. The arrangements we have are generally for 4-pt chorus, but
they can easily be sung in unison.

Vladimir Morosan (rusmuscat(a)
Are you interested in any Australian Christmas carols? I don't know if
there's a website, but I can send you information regarding some carols
that speak of our type of Christmas - hot, dusty etc

Kylie Moore (K.Moore(a)
Suggestions for elementary school level songs which might be of interest
with your international theme are:

Ahrirang (Korea)
Shalom Chaverim (Israel)
Dodi li (Israel)
Dago Inang Sarge (Indonesia)
Haere ra (New Zealand)
The Lachlan tigers (Australia)
Moreton Bay (Australia)
the Little Fish (Australia)
Click go the Shears/Botany Bay (Australia)

I have available arrangements of these songs, which can easily be adapted
(or are already OK for) unison and easy 2 part singing. You can get more
information at our web site:
Young Voices of Melbourne (in the Choral Series page)

Mark O'Leary (yvm(a)
I did a program a few years ago called Around the World at Christmastime. I
believe it was by Jill Gallina and was a very good resource for songs from
around the world.

You might pick up a copy of "The International Book of Christmas Carols",
with musical arrangements by Walter Ehret. It includes English, French,
German, Italian, Scandinavian, Slavic, Spanish and Latin carols. The
non-English carols have both original-language and English texts. They are
set for accompanied unison singing, with a second part suggested for many
of them.

The book was originally published in 1963 by Prentice-Hall. My copy was
published by Stephen Greene Press and sold by Walton Music.

Richard Householder (rhouseh(a)
The music series SHARE THE MUSIC (Macmillan-McGraw Hill 1995) has a
"Celebrations" section in each grade level. There are many songs from
other cultures in the book, including Christmas songs. Songs in languages
other than English are also presented with a modified IPA transliteration
to help with pronunciation

Bob de Frece (
A.C. Black of London publish two books of very simple carols including some
from many countries of the world. The Books are called "Merrily to
Bethlehem" and "Carol Gaily Carol".

The arrangements are very simple, suitable for unison singing by 7/8 year
olds. We did a carol service on Christmas round the world. I obtained
tanslations of the carols and then made phoenetic translations. In this way
the children were able to sing the carols in their original language. The
effect was astounding.

Terry Cordery (Biggles(a)
Contact Judith Cook Tucker. She is mainly a multi-cultural music
specialist, but is great with Elementary stuff, and I think it is exactly
what you are looking for.

Judith Cook Tucker, Publisher
World Music Press
Intercultural Understanding through Music
PO Box 2565
Danbury CT 06813

Anna Montarro Mase (AMMase(a)
There is a volume edited by Walter Ehret which is distributed through
Hinshaw or (I think) MacMillan, depending on whether you buy through book
stores or music stores which is titled along the lines of *Christmas Carols
Around the World* and is quite comprehensive.

Also, re Japan: if my information is correct, you will find *very little*
Christmas music, but you will find more New Year's music, since that is the
big winter holiday celebrated there. There is a Japanese New Year's carol
in Kirke Mechem's *7 Joys of Christmas* (ECS) which might give you a head

Robert Ross (RobertamR(a)

Thanks again to all who responded. If you're still reading this, you must
be at least SLIGHTLY interested in the topic. :-) I'd appreciate any
additional help you could give me. Also, I'd like to find more Elementary
resources, not just Christmas stuff. If you could point me in some
directions, I'd appreciate the help. Sometimes Choralist seems to be geared
more towards college choirs and people looking to borrow music. (I know
it's not set up for elementary music, but I also direct high school choir,
and haven't noticed a lot of posts dealing with that.) If you know of any
Elementary Music sites or would just like to send me some great activities
you've used for curriculum or "mental get-away days", I'd hold you in the
highest esteem! Thanks again everyone!

Bret Nason
on July 8, 2009 10:08pm
 If you are interested in elementary music things--choirs included--you might try the Music K-8 Mailing list, a very active e-mail discussion group generously sponsored by the Music K-8 Magazine publishers Plank Road Publishing.  You don't have to subscribe to the magazine to participate or just read the list.  In fact, you can just read the archives of the list, or search the list archives by subject.  
To check it out, you can access the archive by visiting and clicking on the Musick8 mailing list "tab" at the top of the page.  Check it out!  If you decide to subscribe to the list, you can ask questions and music teachers from all over the country (and Canada and one or two from England) will give you their ideas, or you can "lurk" and just read.  If you prefer not to receive a LOT of individual email messages, you can subscribe to the digest version--a compilation of the messages sent out two or three times a day.  
Chrysanne Bailey