Songs from the Book of Knowledge by William Copper

Songs from the Book of Knowledge


William Copper


Children's Chorus, Piano

Three volumes of songs for children's chorus and piano. Volume I is complete. Intended for an intermediate choir of 8-12 year old singers. One poem is taken from each volume of an old children's encyclopedia, The Book of Knowledge, published by the Grolier Society. The theme of Volume I centers on the earth and nature.

Editions Available


   by Samuel Taylor Coleridge   

Do you know what the birds say?  The sparrow, the dove,
   The linnet and thrush say: "I love and I love!"

In the winter they're silent -- the wind is so strong;
What it says I don't know, but it sings a loud song.

But green leaves, and blossoms, and sunny warm weather,
   And singing, and loving -- all come back together;

But the lark is so brimful of gladness and love,
The green fields below her, the blue sky above,

That she sings, and she sings, and for ever sings she --
   "I love my love, and my love loves me!"

   by William Brighty Rands

Great, wide, beautiful wonderful world,
   With the wonderful water round you curled,
And the wonderful grass upon your breast --
World, you are beautifully drest.

The wonderful air is over me,
   And the wonderful wind is shaking the tree,
It walks on the water and whirls the mills,
And talks to itself on the tops of the hills.

You friendly Earth!  how far you go,
   With the wheat-fields that nod and the rivers that flow,
With cities and gardens, and cliffs and isles,
And people upon you for thousands of miles!

   by William Makepeace Thackeray

There lived a sage in days of yore,
   And she a handsome pigtail wore;
But wondered much, and sorrowed more
   Because it hung behind her.

Se mused upon this serious case,
   And swore she'd change the pigtail's place
And have it hanging at her face,
   Not dangling there behind her. 

At length "Eureka!" was the sound,
   Said she, "The mystery I've found --
I'll turn me round!"  She turned her round;
   But still it hung behind her.

Then round and round, and out and in,
   All day the puzzled sage did spin;
In vain -- it mattered not a pin --
   The pigtail hung behind her.

And though her efforts never slack,
   And though she twist, and twirl, and tack,
Alas! still faithful to her back,
   The pigtail hangs behind her. 

   by Christina Rossetti

My heart is like a singing bird
   Whose nest is in a watered shoot;
My heart is like an apple-tree
   Whose boughs are bent with thick-set fruit;
My heart is like a rainbow shell
   That paddles in a halcyon sea;
My heart is gladder than all these,
   Bedause my love is come to me.

   by Richard H. Stoddard

Birds are singing round my window,
   Tunes the sweetest ever heard;
And I hang my cage there daily,
   But I never catch a bird.

So with thoughts my brain is peopled,
   And they sing all day long;
But they will not fold their pinions
   In the little cage of Song! 

   by Ralph Waldo Emerson 

Good-bye, proud world!  I'm going home;
  Thou art not my friend, and I'm not thine.
Long through thy weary crowds I roam;
  A river-ark on the ocean brine,
Long I've been tossed like the driven foam:
But now, proud world! I'm going home.

   by Alfred Percival Graves

The lilies of the valley chime
   Their joy-bells sweet and low.
Now, wild flowers, 'tis your dancing time!
   What makes you dally so?

Blue, yellow, white, they hurry up,
   They're rocking faster still!
The daisy and the buttercup,
   Wood-violet, daffodil.

Then O, while out of heaven the moon
   Looks down with joyful glance,
The lilies ring and ring the tune,
   The blossoms dance and dance.

Jack Frost he stamps his iron foot;
   "How dare you dance and play?"
The lily-bells, alas! are mute,
   The blossoms hide away. 

But hardly has that churl of churls
   Forsook their favourite glen,
When hark! the lilies' peal of pearls
   Is awakening once again. 

I hear myself its silver hum;
   At home how can I stay?
O flowers, 'tis calling me to come
   And dance with you away!

Volumes II and III have not yet been begun; tentative text selections follow.

          VOLUME TWO

   by Charles Kingsley

When all the world is young, lad,
   And all the trees are green;
And every goose a swan, lad,
   And every lass a queen;
Then hey for boot and horse, lad,
   And round the world away;
Young blood must have its course, lad
   And every dog his day.

When all the world is old, lad,
   And all the trees are brown;
And all the sport is stale, lad,
   And all the wheels run down;
Creep home, and take your place there,
   The spent and maimed among;
God grant you find one face there
   You loved when all was young. 

   by W. H. Davies

What is this life if, full of care,
   We have no time to stand and stare?

No time to stand beneath the boughs
   And stare as long as sheep or cows.

No time to see, when woods we pass,
   Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.

No time to see, in broad daylight,
   Streams full of stars, like skies at night.

A poor life this if, full of care,
   We have no time to stand and stare.

    by anonymous

A million little diamonds
   Twinkled on the trees;
And all the little maidens said,
   "A jewel if you please!"

But while they held their hands outstretched
   To catch the diamonds gay,
A million little sunbeams came
   And stole them all away.

    by Aaron Hill (1685-1750)

Tender-handed stroke a nettle,
   And it stings you for your pains;
Grasp it like a man of mettle
   And it soft as silk remains.

'Tis the same with common natures:
   Use them kindly, they rebel;
But be rough as nutmeg graters,
   And the rogues obey you well.
    by Cecil Frances Humpheys Alexander (1818-1895)

All things bright and beautiful,
   All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful,
   The Lord God made them all.

Each little flower that opens,
   Each little bird that sings,
God made their glowing colors,
   And made their tiny wings.

The purple-headed mountain,
   The river running by,
The sunset and the morning,
   That brightens up the sky --

The cold wind in the winter,
   The pleasant summer sun,
The ripe fruits in the garden --
   God made them every one;

And gave us eys to see them,
   And lips that we might tell
How great is God Almighty
   Who has made all things well.

#12 alt  MEMORY 
    by Thomas Bailey Aldrich

My mind lets go a thousand things,
   Like dates of wars and deaths of kings,
And yet recalls the very hour --
'Twas noon by yonder village tower,
And on the last blue moon in May --
The wind came briskly up this way,
   Crisping the brook beside the road;
Then, pausing here, set down its load
   Of pine-scents, and shook listlessly
Two petals from that wild-rose tree. 

    by Hannah Flagg Gould

Alone I walked the ocean strand;
   A pearly shell was in my hand:
I stooped and wrote upon the sand
   My name -- the year -- the day.
As onward from the spot I passed,
One lingering look behind I cast;
A wave came rolling high and fast,
   And washed my lines away. 

          VOLUME THREE

    by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Between the dark and the daylight,
   When the night is beginning to lower, 
Comes a pause in the day's occupations,
   That is known as the Children's Hour.

I hear in the chamber above me
   The patter of little feet,
The sound of a door that is opened,
   And voices soft and sweet.

From my study I see in the lamplight,
   Descending the broad hall stair,
Grave Alice, and laughing Allegra,
   And Edith with golden hair.

A whisper and then silence:
   Yet I know by their merry eyes
They are plotting and planning together
   To take me by surprise.

A sudden rush from the stairway,
   A sudden raid from the hall!
By three doors left unguarded
   They enter my castle wall!

They climb up into my turret
   O'er the arms and back of my chair;
If I try to escape they surround me;
   They seem to be everywhere.

They almost devour me with kisses,
   Their arms about me entwine,
Till I think of the Bishop of Bingen,
  In his Mouse-tower on the Rhine!

Do you think, O, blue-eyed banditti,
  Because you have scaled the wall,
Such an old moustache as I am
   Is not a match for you all?

I have you fast in my fortress,
   And will not let you depart,
But put you down into the dungeon
   In the round-tower of my heart.
And there will I keep you forever,
   Yes, forever and a day,
Till the walls shall crumble to ruin,
   And moulder in dust away. 

    by anonymous   

When first the marriage knot was tied
   Between my wife and me,
My age as oft repeated hers
   As three times three does three:
But when ten years and half ten years
   We man and wife had been,
Her age came then as near to mine 
   As eight does to sixteen. 

#16  FAITH 
    by Fanny Kemble

Better trust all, and be deceived,
   And weep that trust and that deceiving,
Than doubt one heart that, if believed,
   Had blessed one's life with true believing. 

O, in this mocking world too fast
   The doubting fiend o'ertakes our youth!
Better to be cheated to the last
   Than lose the blessed hope of truth.

    by Thomas Moore

Believe me, if all those endearing young charms
   Which I gaze on so fondly to-day,
Were to change by to-morrow, and fleet in my arms,
Like fairy-gifts fading away,
Thou would'st still be adored, as this moment thou art,
   Let thy loveliness fade as it will,
And around the dear ruin each wish of my heart
   Would entwine itself verdantly still.

It is not while beauty and youth are thine own,
   And thy cheeks unprofaned by a tear,
That the fervor and faith of a sould can be known, 
To which time will but make thee more dear;
No, the heart that has trulyloved nver forgets,
   But as truly loves on to the close,
As the sun-flower turns on her god, when he sets,
   The same look which she turned when he rose. 

   by Arthur Hugh Clough 

Say not, the struggle naught availeth,
   The labour and the wounds are vain;
The enemy faints not, nor faileth,
   And as things have been they remain.

If hopes were dupes, fears may be liars;
   It may be, in yon smoke concealed,
Your comrades chase e'en now the fliers,
   And, but for you, possess the field.

For while the tired waves, vainly breaking,
   Seem here no painful inch to gain,
Far back, through creeks and inlets making,
   Comes silent, flooding in, the main.

And not be eastern windows only,
   When daylight comes, comes in the light;
In front the sun climbs slow, how slowly!
   But westward, look, the land is bright! 

   by John Townsend Trowbridge

I just have room for the moral here:
And this is the moral, -- stick to your sphere;
Or, if you insist, as you have the right,
On spreading your wings for a loftier flight,
The moral is, -- Take care how you light.

   by Walter Savage Landor

The leaves are falling; so am I;
   The few late flowers have moisture in the eye;
So have I, too.
Scarcely on any bough is heard
Joyous, or even unjoyous, bird
   The whole wood through.

Winter may come: he brings but nigher
   His circle (yearly narrowing) to the fire
Where old friends meet.
Let him; now heaven is overcast,
And spring and summer both are past,
   And all things sweet. 

#19 alt  I SAW A NEW WORLD 
   by William Brighty Rands

I saw a new world in my dream, 
   Where all the folks alike did seem;
There was no Child, there was no Mother,
There was no Change, there was no Other.

For everything was Same, the same;
   There was no Praise, there was no Blame;
There was neither Need nor Help for it;
There was nothing fitting, or unfit.

Nobody laughed, nobody wept;
   None grew weary, so none slept;
There was nobody born, and nobody wed;
This world was a world of the living dead.

I longed to hear the Time-Clock strike
   In the world where the people were all alike;
I hated Same, I hated Forever,
I longed to say Neither, or even Never.

I longed to mend, I longed to make,
   I longed to give, I longed to take,
I longed for a change, whatever came after,
I longed for crying, I longed for laughter. 

Copyright 2003 William P. Copper

William Copper bio

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