If you ever need to practice or familiarize yourself or someone with melismas (singing of a single syllable while moving between different notes), this song is a lovely example. Listen to the video below of Sarah McLachlan, Jewel and the Indigo Girls at Lilith Fair and see how many words with one syllables they stretch onto more than one note, or just any syllable having the same thing done to it. No need to count precisely. Just get an idea why I say this song is a great example of a song containing melismas, besides it being a lovely song rather than just some bad songwriting where the writer had to use melismas force things to fit into phrases. Here, the tune is simple and allows for “decorations” with melismas. It’s quite a difference!
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In tabbing this song, while I based it on another year’s Lilith Fair recording with the Dixie Chicks instead of the Indigo Girls (that sounded funny), I did not include all the melismas you heard. Unless you can sing like Sarah McLachlan or Jewel or some of them other gals, you’re not going to be able to pull off all those melismas anyway… and you wouldn’t be on this site scouring for music. 🙂
I just put in a few. You can add more if you like. The tune is robust enough to handle it. that’s why it’s been around since the 1600s.
With a tune around since the 1600s, there are also many lyric versions for it. Oddly enough, though, when I went to source some of them because I didn’t think the ones used in the Lilith Fair concerts were all that “cohesive” or “flowing”, I still couldn’t find a set I liked. So I wrote my own. Not completely off the path, but rather similar, with more cohesiveness and flow, in my opinion. You can read more on that on my poetry blog, if you care.
All you need to know is my reworked lyrics were generally meant for me. I’m not going to force it upon anyone, which is why in the PDFs you download of this song, there are also the lyrics used in the Lilith Fair concerts. It’s quite close to most other popular recordings of the song, too.
Furthermore, I’ve put each version in two keys, G and C, because you’re probably going to find one of them challenging pending your voice range. Either that or it won’t sound as good. I am challenged to sing it in C, with all those high notes, but the version an octave lower just sounds terrible. This ain’t Russian bass choral music, you know!
Anyhow, give this beautiful song a try. Give it some patience in working out some melismas. You’ll be glad you did!
If the letter size tabs (8.5″ x 11″) are too small for your eyes, you can either enlarge to tabloid size (11″ x 17″) using an automatic enlarge feature on many photocopiers, or download the tabloid sized versions for printing. The tabloid size tabs can be inserted into a typical letter sized binder on the 11″ size, and folded almost in half to fit. You just open each tab to use it.
Flesch-Kincaid Grade Reading Level: 7.1