Sing Books with Emily, the Blog

When Johnny Comes Marching Home, a Singable Picture Book

Posted on: October 22, 2012

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When Johnny Comes Marching Home (A Song About a Soldier’s Return)

Traditional Tune
Words by Patrick S. Gilmore
Illustrated by Todd Ouren
(This book features printed music, historical information and activities)

This is a song that is as relevant today as it ever was, a time when we need to remember the great sacrifices made by soldiers who put themselves in harms way for the purpose of protecting our country and our American way of life.

Though, honestly, the illustrations in this book are not so well executed or inspiring as many others I could point to, this book has a lot to offer.  Besides the pictures and lyrics for singing along and providing a context for the song, this book offers an introductory note to set up the song’s significance, historical information about the song at the end of the book, printed music and a page of activity ideas and suggestions for further reading.  And its binding is very well done.  This may seem like a trivial comment, but speaking as someone who handles books and pages through the books to sing the pages for groups of children every day, I can say that the book’s binding can either help or hinder the process and this is a very nicely bound book, easy to hold and turn pages, a nice shape and size for both handling and for the children to see.

Another great thing about “When Johnny Comes Marching Home,” is that it is easy to sing without any musical accompaniment.  It is fun and easy to sing for almost anyone at any level of musical expertise.  Singing this song for children offers an open window into many moments in American History (particularly, of course, the Civil War, during which time the song was written) and current events (what soldiers are doing now and history being made right now around the world).

In addition, the tune (possibly borrowed from an even earlier hymn or spiritual) is quite useful.  The meter and pleasing melody make it suitable for new sets of lyrics on new subjects.

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A few adaptations:

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Ants Go Marching (Classic Books with Holes)

Traditional Words and Tune
Illustrated by Dan Crisp

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The Ghouls Come Haunting One by One
Traditional Tune: Sing to the Tune of “The Ants Go Marching” (which is an adaptation of “When Johnny Comes Marching Home”)
Words Adapted by Tom McDermott
Illustrated by Liz McGrath

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“When Johnny Comes Marching Home,” is also included in,

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The Family Car Songbook (Hundreds of Miles of Fun!)
Words and Tunes by Various Artists
Compiled by Jason Tharp
Illustrated by Michael Gelen

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WHEN JOHNNY COMES MARCHING HOME
Written to the Tune of a Traditional Song
Words by Patrick S. Gilmore

When Johnny comes marching home again,
Hurrah! Hurrah!
We’ll give him a hearty welcome then
Hurrah! Hurrah!
The men will cheer and the boys will shout
The ladies they will all turn out
And we’ll all be there when Johnny comes marching home.

The old church bell will peal with joy
Hurrah! Hurrah!
To welcome home our darling boy,
Hurrah! Hurrah!
The village lads and lassies say
With roses they will strew the way,
And we’ll all feel gay when Johnny comes marching home.

Get ready for the Jubilee,
Hurrah! Hurrah!
We’ll give the hero three times three,
Hurrah! Hurrah!
The laurel wreath is ready now
To place upon his loyal brow
And we’ll all feel gay when Johnny comes marching home.

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A famous song from the American Civil War, “When Johnny Comes Marching Home” provides an opportunity for children to sing together and to spark discussions on many subjects from the American Civil War to the role of a military in sometimes dangerous world.  I made the following lyric sheet for my daughter’s Brownie Troop Girl Scout Songbook.  Please feel free to print it and use it to sing-along.

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To view or print this lyric sheet, click here:
When Johnny Comes Marching Home GSSLyrics

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A beautiful rendition by the US Military Academy Band

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WMJTycleWrc

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This YouTube has two versions of the song, the first the military march, the second a vocal and bluegrass rendition.  The comment section has great information about the history of the song and fascinating documentary images

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T3k8H_9SjoM

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Click this link for the Library of Congress page for “When Johnny Comes Marching Home”
http://lcweb2.loc.gov/diglib/ihas/loc.natlib.ihas.200000024/default.html

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Interesting info in wiki:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/When_Johnny_Comes_Marching_Home

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FOURTH OF JULY AND OTHER HOLIDAYS CELEBRATING THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA AND HER CITIZENS AND HISTORY
A list of Singable Picture Books celebrating the Fourth of July
https://singbookswithemily.wordpress.com/2010/06/22/a-patriotic-list-of-singable-books-for-july-4th/

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WHEN JOHNNY COMES MARCHING HOME, A GIRL SCOUT SONG FOR TROOP 2740
http://brownietroop2740.wordpress.com/2012/08/31/when-johnny-comes-marching-home-a-girl-scout-song-for-troop-2740/

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A-CAPELLA-PALOOZA (NO MUSICAL ACCOMPANIMENT REQUIRED)
https://singbookswithemily.wordpress.com/2012/10/08/acapellapalooza/

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USEFUL TUNES IN THE PUBLIC DOMAIN
https://singbookswithemily.wordpress.com/2012/07/15/useful-tunes-in-the-public-domain/

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