Children's Songs

Price: $2.00 per copy

Children’s Songs

SSA chorus/piano

Duration: 5 minutes 50 seconds

Text: Anonymous The Goops: Frank Gelett Burgess

Premiered: 1989 Crane Elementary 5-6th grade chorus, Rush-Henrietta Schools, Henrietta, New York, Nancy Shewan, conductor

            I.  Jack Sprat (1:25)

            II. The Crooked Man (2:05)

            III. The Queen of Hearts (1:25)

            IV. The Goops (:55)

 My mom Nancy read children’s poems (nursery rhymes) to her three boys from a big blue book that I still have and enjoy. It was filled with wonderful poems and illustrations compiled in the 1950s. In 1989, I set four of those poems to music and presented them to her as a gift. She had a fabulous elementary chorus and they premiered the complete work that year. It has since been performed by other elementary choruses, high school and college girls choruses, and in 2011 I revised a version for SATB chorus which was premiered by my dad’s choir! Each movement has a distinctive character.


Jack Sprat opens the set with a tongue-in-cheek seriousness contrasting Jack’s eating habits to his un-named wife. “Jack Sprat could eat no fat, his wife could eat no lean…” This version of the poem includes an adorable second verse “the bowl they licked it clean you see and gave it to the cat!”(not found in all books).

The second movement is a slow and spooky adaptation of “The Crooked Man.” The piano contains octave leaps that emulate the crookedness of the man as he walks, while the choir sings sustained lines filled with exotic harmonies.

The Queen of Hearts is set in a waltz style. Here we hear the tale of the queen who made some tarts, the knave who stole the tarts (who takes quite a beating in the piece!) and later brings back the tarts vowing “he’d steal no more.”

Gellett Burgess’ The Goops has always been one of my absolute favorite children’s poems. This overly-serious-minor-key setting portrays the sloppy Goop family as a group of folks you’d rather not contend with. The Goops they lick their fingers, the Goops they lick their knives, they spill their broth on the tablecloth, oh they lead disgusting lives.