Songs for the Christmas season (inc Thanksgiving)

A cradle hymn

A turkey ran away

A turkey sat on a backyard fence

Albuquerque turkey

As I came over Yonders Hill

(The turkey song)

Away in a manger

Bake a cake for Christmas

Bright morning star

Christmas cracker

Christmas Eve in Trinidad

Christmas is coming

Christmas pudding

Clap your tiny hands

Coventry carol

Curoo, curoo (Carol of the birds)

Dame get up and bake your pies

December / The whole world is a Christmas tree

Deck the halls

Don’t you hear the lambs a-crying

Dormi, dormi bel bambino

Also: Mister Turkey and Mister Duck

Christmas songs: 📦 F-S 🔔🔔 T-Z 🎅

 

 

Last updated: 12/14/2020 2:13 PM

The songs below are part ofAway we gocompiled, adapted and illustrated by Dany Rosevear

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To watch the author sing a song click on the title at:

 

© Dany Rosevear 2008 All rights reserved

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A cradle hymn 🔊

 

 


A folk song from Kentucky. Words by Isaac Watts. Arranged by Dany Rosevear.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Hush, my babe, lie still in slumber,

Holy angels guard thy bed.

Sweetest blessings without number

Gently fall upon thy head.

 

Soft and easy is thy cradle:

Coarse and hard thy Saviour lay:

When his birthplace was a stable,

And his softest bed was hay.

 

See the shepherds gathered round him,

Telling wonders from the sky!

Where they sought him, there they found him,

With his Virgin Mother by.

 

See the heavenly babe a-dressing;

Lovely infant, how he smiled!

When he wept, the mother’s blessing

Soothed and hushed the holy Child.

 

Lo, he slumbers in the manger,

Where the hornèd oxen fed,

Peace, my darling, there's no danger,

There's no oxen by thy bed.

 

Hush, my babe, lie still in slumber,

Holy angels guard thy bed.

Sweetest blessings without number

Gently fall upon thy head.


 

 

A turkey ran away O

 

This Appalachian Thanksgiving song (which possibly has Danish origins) can easily be adapted for the Christmas season; just make up new verses to include seasonal foods. Verses 4&5 are by Derek Pearson. Last verse added by Dany Rosevear.

 

Roll arms or walk round on the spot each time ‘rolled’ is sung. Jump up for ‘potato’. Flap elbows for each ‘gobble’.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


A turkey ran away,

Before Thanksgiving Day.

Said he, “They’ll make a meal of me,

If I should stay!”

 

A pumpkin rolled away,

Before Thanksgiving Day.

Said she "They’ll make a pie of me,

If I should stay!”

 

A cranberry rolled away,

Before Thanksgiving Day.

Said he, “They’ll make a meal of me,

If I should stay!”

 

A nice potato too,

Jumped from the ground and flew.

Said she "They’ll roast me through and through,

If I should stay!”

 

And then a brussel sprout

Said “Now I must get out,

I’m sure they’ll boil my life away

If I should stay!”

 

A turkey ran away,

Before Thanksgiving Day.

Crying, “Gobble gobble, gobble, gobble,

Gobble gobble, gobble!”

Yes , “Gobble gobble, gobble, gobble,

I’m off and away!


 

 

A turkey sat on a backyard fence O

(Gobble, gobble, gobble)

 

 


A song for Thanksgiving by Margaret I. Simpson and June M. Norton from a 1950s book ‘Singing and Rhyming’.

 

Flap elbows for each ‘gobble’.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


A turkey sat on a backyard fence

And he sang this sad, sad tune,

“Thanksgiving Day is coming, gobble, gobble, gobble, gobble,

And I know I’ll be eaten soon.

Gobble, gobble, gobble, gobble, gobble, gobble, gobble,

I would like to run away,

Gobble, gobble, gobble, gobble, gobble, gobble, gobble,

I don't like Thanksgiving Day!”


 

 

Albuquerque Turkey 🔊

 

 


Thanksgiving for vegetarians or vegans – add you own food preference.

This humorous song can be sung for Thanksgiving or anytime you like!

 

Verse 1. Put hands on hips like wings. Strut and wiggle. 2. Pretend to stroke a turkey’s head. 3.Open and close beak, stroke hand, shake finger. 4. Lay hands on palms as you smile. Put fork to mouth then rub tummy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Albuquerque is a turkey

And he’s feathered and he’s fine,

And he wobbles as he gobbles

And he’s absolutely mine!

Chorus

Gobble, gobble, gobble, gobble,

Gobble, gobble, gobbledy.

Gobble, gobble, gobble, gobble,

Such a lovely sound, indeed!

 

He’s the best pet you can get yet,

Better than a dog or cat,

He’s my Albuquerque turkey

And I’m awfully proud of that! Chorus

 

Once he told me very frankly,

He would rather be my pet,

Not the main course for my dinner,

So I told him not to fret! Chorus

 

And my Albuquerque turkey

Is so cosy in his bed,

‘Cause for our Thanksgiving Dinner,

We have pumpkin pie instead! Chorus


 

 

As I came over Yonders HillO

(The turkey song)

 

A folk song from Northern Wisconsin;

It is sometimes sung as ’yonder hill’ Roud no: 4234

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


As I came over Yonders Hill, mime going over a hill

I spied a mighty turkey, make a monocle with hands

He flapped his wings and he spread his tail

Flap elbows then spread hands in front

And his feet were awful dirty.

Point to feet, clap twice and click heels.

Chorus:

Fol link a tidy, Pat legs twice, clap hands twice

Fol de link a tidy o, Pat legs x2, pat shoulders x2

Fol link a tidy, As above

And his feet were awful dirty. As above.

 

I met him by an old beech tree,

And told him he looked pretty,

He flapped his wings and he spread his tail

But his feet looked awful dirty.

 

And so I said to that turkey bird,

"How would you taste for dinner?"

He flapped his wings and he spread his tail

And he made himself look thinner.

 

"You can't catch me, my little laddie,

I've got a wife and children,"

He flapped his wings and he spread his tail

And he took to the woods a running.

 

So I went back over Yonders Hill,

Without that mighty turkey,

He flapped his wings and he spread his tail

And his feet looked awful dirty.


 

 

Away in a manger 🔊

 

 


I first heard this version at a Christmas concert by Maddy Prior and the Carnival Band in Oxford many years ago and was thoroughly enchanted.

The words of the carol come from a poem which was mistakenly attributed to Martin Luther and its tune from a melody composed by James Ramsey Murray in 1887.

Murray's tune is often known as 'Mueller'and is the more commonly heard setting of 'Away in a Manger' in the United States and predates William J. Kirkpatrick's tune written in 1895. Kirkpatrick's tune is sometimes referred to as 'Cradle Song' and is the one most usually recognised in the UK. For more info visit: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Away_in_a_Manger

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Away in a manger, no crib for a bed,

The little Lord Jesus lay down his sweet head.

The stars in the bright sky looked down where he lay,

The little Lord Jesus, asleep on the hay.

 

The cattle are lowing the poor baby wakes,

But little Lord Jesus, no crying he makes.

I love thee Lord Jesus, look down from the sky,

And stay by my cradle till morning is nigh.

 

Be near me, Lord Jesus; I ask thee to stay

Close by me forever, and love me, I pray;

Bless all the dear children in thy tender care,

And fit us for heaven to live with thee there.


 

 

Bake a cake for Christmas

 

 


A seasonal cooking and feasting rhyme for Christmas.

Haven’t been able to find this rhyme anywhere – any ideas!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bake a cake for Christmas,

Stir it with a spoon,

Pop it in the oven and

Pull it out at noon.

Spread the frosting on it;

What a pretty sight!

For you and me and Santa Claus,

To see on Christmas night.

 

Bake a cake for Christmas,

Stir it with a spoon,

Pop it in the oven and

Pull it out at noon.

Spread the frosting on it;

Hip, hip, hooray!

Now you and me and Santa Claus,

Shall eat it on Christmas day.

Mmmmh!


 

 

 

Bright morning star 🔊

 

 


A simple and beautiful Appalachian folk song and spiritual from Kentucky is adapted by Steeleye Span for Christmas. This one works paticularly well when sung with others.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Bright morning star a-rising,

Bright morning star a-rising,

Bright morning star a-rising,

Day is a-breaking in my soul.

 

It is shining on the shepherds x3

Day is a-breaking in my soul.

 

Come see the wise men travelling x3

Day is a-breaking in my soul.

 

And hear the Angels singing x3

Day is a-breaking in my soul.

 

Bright morning stars a-rising x3

Day is a-breaking in my soul.


 

 

Christmas cracker 🔊

 

 


A hand play for the very young.

 

Hold an imaginary cracker. Mime pulling in an exaggerated manner. Clap hands loudly and shout BANG!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Christmas cracker, Christmas cracker,

In your hand, In your hand!

Hurry up and pull one, hurry up and pull one,

It goes BANG!  It goes BANG!


 

 

 

Christmas Eve in Trinidad 🔊

 

 


This was a popular song for the Christmas festivities when I taught at Wilkes Green School in Handsworth, Birmingham in the 1960s. Many of the children in class were born of recently arrived Jamaicans immigrants; it didn’t seem to matter that the song was based in Trinidad – the calypso rhythm was the attraction.

Words and music by: Massie Patterson and Sammy Heyward.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Santa, whatya doing Christmas Eve?

At my house what are you going to leave;

Santa how you going to make the reindeer go?

In Port of Spain Santa we don’t have snow.

 

Christmas Eve in Trinidad,

Children are good not one is bad.

What a night for girls and boys,

Santa will bring them plenty of toys.

 


 

Christmas is coming O

 

 


This rhyme was written by. The original version has ‘Please to put a penny’ There are several tunes some written commercially. I remember it being chanted or sung with the simple melody below..

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Christmas is coming,

The geese are getting fat.

Please put a penny in the old man’s hat.

If you haven’t got a penny,

A ha’penny will do.

If you haven’t got a ha’penny,

Then God bless you!


 

 

Christmas pudding 🔊

 

 


My grandson is singing this song at his nursey this Xmas. Simple and a perfect hand play for the little ones.

 

Stir an imaginary bowl. Blow on the hot pudding. Sprinkle imaginary sugar.

Pretend to eat the pudding and rub your tummy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Christmas pudding, Christmas pudding,

Steaming hot! Steaming hot!

Sprinkle on the sugar, sprinkle on the sugar,

Eat the lot! Eat the lot!


 

 

Clap your tiny hands 🔊

 

 


Words and music arranged by Dany Rosevear.

This is a song I half heard one Sunday morning on BBC Radio 4 about thirty years ago, it was sung beautifully by some old fellow in the West Indies.

I adapted it for a Nativity play two decades ago – but didn’t record it!

It is now resurrected in a form that might be recognisable to someone out there though recent research on the internet suggests the original might have been the gospel song, ‘Clap your tiny hands for joy’.

 

This could be sung to a baby while clapping their hands gently together. Encourage young children to clap along with the music.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Clap your tiny hands, clap your tiny hands,

Clap your tiny hands for me,

Clap your tiny hands, clap your tiny hands,

Clap your tiny hands for me.

 

Little children sing, Christmas joy we bring,

Clap your tiny hands for me,

Clap your tiny hands, clap your tiny hands,

Clap your tiny hands for me.

 

Little children come, Christmas time is fun…

 

Little children shout, Christmas bells ring out…


 

 

Coventry carol 🔊

 

 


An English Christmas carol dating from the 16th century. The carol was traditionally performed in Coventry in England as part of a mystery play called The Pageant of the Shearmen and Tailors.Find out more at: Wikipedia.

It is such a beautiful tune it could be hummed and just the first and last verse sung as a lullaby without those that tell of the massacre of innocents.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Lullay, thou little tiny child,

By, by, lully, lullay,

Lullay, thou little tiny child,

By, by, lully, lullay.

 

Oh, sisters two, how may we do,

For to preserve this day?

This poor youngling for whom we sing,

By, by, lully, lullay.

 

Herod the King in his raging,

Charged he hath this day

His men of might, in his own sight,

All children young to slay.

 

Then woe is me, poor child, for thee

And ever mourn and say,

For thy parting nor say, nor sing,

By, by, lully, lullay.

 

And when the stars ingather do

In their far venture stay

Then smile as dreaming, little one,

By, by, lully, lullay.

 

Lullay, thou little tiny child,

By, by, lully, lullay,

Lullay, thou little tiny child,

By, by, lully, lullay.

By, by, lully, lullay.

By, by, lully, lullay.


 

 

Curoo, curoo (Carol of the birds) 🔊

 

 


This beautiful song comes from an 18th century traditional Irish Christmas text.

I first came across it sung in 6/8 time but much preferred this gentle tender version in waltz timing that I heard the Clancy Brothers sing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Full many a bird did wake and fly,

Curoo, curoo, curoo,

Full many a bird did wake and fly,

To the manger bed with a wondering cry,

On Christmas day in the morning,

Curoo, curoo, curoo.

Curoo, curoo, curoo.

 

The lark, the dove and the red bird came,

Curoo, curoo, curoo,

The lark, the dove and the red bird came,

And they did sing in sweet Jesus' name,

On Christmas day in the morning,

Curoo, curoo, curoo.

Curoo, curoo, curoo.

 

The owl was there with eyes so wide,

Curoo, curoo, curoo,

The owl was there with eyes so wide,

And he did sit at sweet Mary's side,

On Christmas day in the morning,

Curoo, curoo, curoo.

Curoo, curoo, curoo.

 

The shepherds knelt upon the hay,

Curoo, curoo, curoo,

The shepherds knelt upon the hay,

And angels sang the night away,

On Christmas day in the morning,

Curoo, curoo, curoo.

Curoo, curoo, curoo.


 

 

Dame, get up and bake your pies O

 

 


Midwinter festivals are nearly always accompanied by food and feasting. Everyone in the past would have been busy preparing for Christmas making sweetmeats, gingerbread, marzipan treats, cakes, Christmas puddings and pies.; no visits to the supermarket! Mince pies were originally made of meat and an oval shape to represent the manger that the baby Jesus lay in.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Dame, get up and bake your pies,

Bake your pies, bake your pies;

Dame, get up and bake your pies,

On Christmas day in the morning.

 

Dame, what makes your maidens lie,

Maidens lie, maidens lie;

Dame, what makes your maidens lie

On Christmas day in the morning?

 

Dame, what makes your ducks to die,

Ducks to die, ducks to die;

Dame, what makes your ducks to die,

On Christmas day in the morning?

 

Their wings are cut, they cannot fly,

Cannot fly, cannot fly;

Their wings are cut, they cannot fly,

On Christmas day in the morning.

 


 

 

Deck the halls 🔊

 

 

 


“The long season of midwinter holidays is a time of rejoicing for all. Families gather, homes are decorated, and love and joy are expressed in gift-giving and caroling.” From’Making music your own’ published 1965.

This Welsh melody dates back to the sixteenth century and belongs to a winter carol, "Nos Galan", while the English lyrics written by the Scottish musician Thomas Oliphant first appeared in 1862. Find out more at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deck_the_Halls 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Deck the halls with boughs of holly,

Fa la la la la, la la la la.

Tis the season to be jolly,

Fa la la la la, la la la la.

Don we now our gay apparel,

Fa la la, la la la, la la la.

Troll the ancient Yuletide carol,

Fa la la la la, la la la la.

 

See the blazing Yule before us,

Fa la la la la, la la la la.

Strike the harp and join the chorus,

Fa la la la la, la la la la.

Follow me in merry measure,

Fa la la, la la la, la la la.

While I tell of Yuletide treasure,

Fa la la la la, la la la la.

 

Fast away the old year passes,

Fa la la la la, la la la la.

Hail the new, ye lads and lasses,

Fa la la la la, la la la la.

Sing we joyous, all together,

Fa la la, la la la, la la la.

Heedless of the wind and weather,

Fa la la la la, la la la la.


 

 

December / The whole world is a Christmas tree 🔊

 

 


This initial verse is often sung as as a round; it is in fact the third verse of a delightful poem  December’ by Harriet F. Blodgett.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


The whole world is a Christmas tree,

And stars its many candles be.

Oh! sing a carol joyfully

The year's great feast is keeping!

 

Oh! holly branch and mistletoe.

And Christmas chimes where'er we go.

And stockings pinned up in a row!

These are thy gifts, December!

 

And if the year has made thee old,

And silvered all thy locks of gold,

Thy heart has never been a-cold

Or known a fading ember.

 

For once, on a December night,

An angel held a candle bright.

And led three wise men by its light

To where a child was sleeping.


 

 

Don’t you hear the lambs a-crying 🔊

 

 


An American spiritual and old time bluegrass gospel song. http://www.bluegrassmessengers.com/dont-you-hear-the-lambs-a-crying-seeger.aspx

I came across this one in ‘Folk songs North America sings’ published in 1984 where this spiritual was referred to as a Texas folk hymn. It is also in ‘American folk songs for Christmas’ by Ruth Crawford Seeger published in 1953 where it was attributed to the Archive of American folk song in the Library of congress Washinton D.C.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Don't you hear the lambs a-crying,

On that other green shore?

Don't you hear the lambs a-crying?

O, Good Shepherd, go feed-a my sheep!

 

Don't you see the stars a-shining,

On that other green shore?

Don't you see the stars a-shining?

O, Good Shepherd, go feed-a my sheep!

 

Some for Paul and some for Silas,

Some for to make-a my heart rejoice;

Don't you see the stars a-shining?

O, Good Shepherd, go feed-a my sheep!

 

Don't you see the sun a-rising,

On that other green shore?

Don't you see the sun a-rising?

O, Good Shepherd, go feed-a my sheep!

 

Don't you hear the lambs a-crying,

On that other green shore?

Don't you hear the lambs a-crying?

O, Good Shepherd, go feed-a my sheep!

 

Some for Paul and some for Silas,

Some for to make-a my heart rejoice.

Don't you hear the lambs a crying?

O Good Shepherd, go feed-a my sheep!

 

Don't you hear the lambs a-crying?

O Good Shepherd, go feed-a my sheep!

 


 

 

Dormi, dormi bel bambino 🔊

 

 


An Italian Christmas carol.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Dormi, dormi, bel bambino,

Vago figlio del mio cor, (feelyo meeo)

La tua madre sta vicino,

Tutta gioia tutt' amor. (Toota joyya toot amor)

 

Sleep on, sleep on dearest baby,

You’re the darling of my heart.

Softly mother is standing beside you,

All my love and joy thou art.

 

Little golden stars so high,

Twinkling brightly in the sky,

Shine on me throughout the night

And keep me safe 'til morning's light.

 


 

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