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Children, Go Where I Send Thee

A vibrant "call and response" arrangement of this enduring favorite
African-American Spiritual

This inventive arrangement is presented as a dialogue between an adult soloist and children's choir. A colorful accompaniment, delightful piano interludes, a little thigh-slapping, and a brief foray into musical punsmanship make for a Christmas treat.

This song can easily be taught to a young choir in 1 or 2 rehearsals, with the more experienced singers taking the upper of the two parts.  The adult soloist opens each new verse with a call-and-response dialogue with the children's choir.  The piano accompaniment is on an intermediate level.

Item Instrumentation/Voicing Duration Level Audio Peruse Delivery Method (Print vs. Digital) Price Quantity
SEA-018-01 SA (children's choir), soprano/tenor soloist, piano - Choral Score
3'00" E Sheet Music $2.25
SEA-018-01DEL SA (children's choir), soprano/tenor soloist, piano - Choral Score
3'00" E Licensed PDF $2.25

Children Go Where I Send Thee

African-American spiritual

Children, go where I send thee!
How shall I send thee?

I'm gonna send thee one by one:
One for the little bitty baby
Wrapped in swaddling clothing
Lying in a manger
Born, born, oh born in Bethlehem.

I'm gonna send thee two by two:
Two for Joseph and Mary,

I'm gonna send thee three by three:
Three for the three old wise men,

I'm gonna send thee four by four:
Four for the gospel preachers,

I'm gonna send thee five by five:
Five for the ancient stories,

I'm gonna send thee six by six:
Six for the star of David,

I'm gonna send thee seven by seven:
Seven for the seven who went to heaven,

I'm gonna send thee eight by eight:
Eight for the eight come a-knockin' at the gate,

I'm gonna send thee nine by nine:
Nine for the nine who saw the sign,

I'm gonna send thee ten by ten:
Ten for the ten who tried again.

Composer's Note: 

When I sang this song to my own children — during long car rides, or while they were waiting for dinner to be ready — I sang the "real" lyrics when I could remember them, and unabashedly made up my own words when I could not.  But when I decided to arrange this song for treble choir, I found that there were many different versions of this song, and I had to make some conscious choices.  In the spirit of oral tradition, some of these verses are traditional, and some are original.

Verses 1-3: These first three verses are pretty standard.  (Although my son Oliver has been known to sing: " for the little Beanie Baby...")
Verse 4: Although one popular version says: "four for the four come a-knockin' at the door," I chose to save that most catchy rhythm for Verse 8, where it provides an opportunity for a surprising interlude.
Verse 5: This verse I came up with on my own.  Since "four gospel preachers" refers to the first four books in the New Testament, I decided to have the five "ancient stories" refer to the first five books in the Old Testament, often called the "Pentateuch."
Verse 6: It seems so natural to link "six" with the points on the Star of David, also called the "Jewish Star", that I only tentatively assert that I'm the first to come up with this verse.
Verse 7: Verse 7 is always "the seven who went to heaven."  Case closed.
Verse 8: Who knows who the eight are who "come a-knocking at the gate"?  I don't think anyone knows for sure.  What I do know is this: it's the funnest verse to sing!
Verse 9: This verse is standard, too, though it's not clear to me what sign "the nine" saw.  Ask your young singers to use their imaginations.  What might the sign have said?  Behold?  Be Not Afraid?  Question Authority?
Verse 10: There were several possibilities for the final verse, but in the end I decided to use one I wrote myself, since I know of few things more valuable in a religious life than "trying again."

So there you have it!  Have fun!


Premiere: Children's Choir of First Unitarian Church of Ithaca / Elizabeth Alexander (Ithaca, NY)
Children's Choir and Congregation of First Presbyterian Church / Doug Dennewitz (London, OH)
Children's Choir of Burlington First Church of The Nazarene / Chris VanBuskirk (Burlington, IA)
Children's Choir of First Parish in Framingham / Patricia Ramey (Framingham, MA)
Children's Choir of First Unitarian Church of Ithaca / Jennifer Haywood (Ithaca, NY)
Children's Choir of Jefferson Unitarian Church of Golden, CO / Keith Arnold (Golden, CO)
Children's Choir of Unitarian Fellowship of London, Ontario / Susan Jeffrey (London, ON CANADA)
Children's Choir of Unitarian Universalist Church of Buffalo / Marion Reslow (Buffalo, NY)
Children's Choir of Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Boca Raton / Stephanie Nixdorf (Boca Raton, FL)
Disciples of Christ General Assembly Choir. Christian Church Disciples of Christ General Assembly (Portland, OR)
Hosanna Choir of Strings, Etc! / Leslie Kent (Ancaster, ON CANADA)
New Jersey Children's Choir / Carol Richardi (Upper Montclair, NJ)

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