Advertise on ChoralNet 
ChoralNet logo
The mission of the ACDA is to inspire excellence in choral music through education, performance, composition, and advocacy.

SATB music about animals

Hello Colleagues,
My choir is planning to perform a concert about animals entitled, All Creatures Great and Small. We will use the opportunity to partner with an organization such as ARF (Animal Rescue Foundation). I have some music, such as I Bought Me A Cat by Copland/Fine and The Little White Hen by Scandello, but I would like to find other quality repertoire on this subject—single octavos or longer works, any instrumentation or soloist requirements are possible. We will also use some of this music for two children's concerts we have booked next fall as well.
Thank you for your ideas!
Karen Schuessler Singers
London, Ontario
Replies (45): Threaded | Chronological
on January 18, 2011 6:39pm
Bumble Bee by Anders Edenroth (of the Real Group) published by Walton
on January 18, 2011 8:12pm
I would highly recommend Prayers from the Ark by Ivor Davies (publ. Novello).  Six short a cappella movements, totalling about 8 minutes.  It would be possible to do only a few of them, but they work very well as a cycle.  Great variety of tempo, mood and color.  From medium-easy to medium-difficult.  All are lyrical and tonal. 
Bill Weinert
on January 19, 2011 10:06am
Ditto.  For a light concert, my choices would be The Prayer of the Little Bird (charming), The Prayer of the Mouse (cute), and/or The Prayer of the Cat (hilarious).  Cat, especially, allows for quite a bit of over-the-top expressiveness, if desired.  All six movements are available on CD or MP3 from Atlanta Sacred Chorale.
Two other pieces that come to mind are O Magnum Mysterium and Sicut Cervus.
on January 18, 2011 8:24pm
Eric Whitacre's two sets of Animal Crackers.
on January 18, 2011 8:51pm
Carter's Benedicite sings of whales, badgers and bandicoots and many others. Even spots for children's chorus.
Oxford is terribly expensive at $15.95 per  see it a
Also, Britten's Rejoice in the Lamb Boosey and Hawkes
on January 18, 2011 9:14pm
Here's a ChoralNet resource on this topic, and here's a related one.
on January 18, 2011 10:26pm
Vijay Singh's "The Badger and the Flea" for SATB, piano and oboe is an awesome work with wit; a wonderful score.  There's an mp3 performance and a segment of the score here:
Good luck,
on January 18, 2011 10:41pm
karen:  I can't remember the composer, and can't find the file of the program I last did it on, but there's a hilarious renaissance piece in 2 sections, and in the 2nd section the voice parts take the part of animals:  a cat (or 2), a dog, an owl, maybe a cuckoo, and so on.  Banchieri or Gastoldi or one of those guys, and I'm sure someone knows what I'm talking about.
Only problem is tha the "animal" on the bass part is inebriated monks, but there should be some way to finesse that.
on January 19, 2011 10:29am
Banchieri Contrapubntal Bestiale?
on January 19, 2011 12:40pm
No need to finess that- it is what it is!
Yes it's La Festina By Banchieri "Contapunto bestiale"-
several recordings starting with Noah Greenberg c.1952
we read this every few years.
That Madrigal comedy genre from c.1570-c.1630 is loaded with gems.
on January 24, 2011 4:54pm
Hi John and Karen,
The original English texts to the Banchieri work are sorely in need of a rewrite.  Here are the texts as they exist / with translations, and a proposed modern English equivalent:
Nulla fides gobis similiter zoppis,
si sqerzus, bonus, bonus est,
super annalia scribe.

[Animals responses in Italian:
(Cucco:) Cucù cucù ...
(Chiù:) Chiù chiù ...
(Gatto:) Miau miau ...
(Cane:) Bau bau ... ]

(my translation, with apologies..)
Trust nothing to hunchbacks likewise to cripples
If fools, very, very good
Write that in the annals

(mine also, again with apologies..)
Nessuna selo fide di gobbi similmente zoppi
Si sciocco, bene, molto bene
scriva sugli annali

Never trust a halting man,
Distrust the infirm also
If motley fools be very good,
Write that all over the annals

Put no trust in ne’er-do-wells
Don’t trust those who have a past
To be safe put fools in place
Write that down into your book of rules!
--Joseph Valles
Atlanta, GA
on January 19, 2011 8:50am
Allen Pte -- First Came Aardvarks -- again in the fun category.
Charles Jonah
on January 19, 2011 10:32am
Karen-  John was referring to Banchieri's "Counterpoint of the Animals."  There are several versions that have cleaned up the "drunken monk" text!
on January 19, 2011 12:19pm
Irving Fine set three pieces with texts from Alice in Wonderland, one of which is "The Lobster Quadrille". You could also excerpt the movement from Britten's Jubilate Agno "For I will consider my cat Jeoffry". 
on January 19, 2011 12:45pm
Hi, Karen -
I think you would find these works appropriate: Clare Shore's Tropical Blessing (go here to listen: and God Bless the Animals, both published by E.C. Schirmer 1-800-777-1919.
on January 19, 2011 1:00pm
R Murray Schafer "A Medieval Bestiary" - a cycle of short songs on animals from Medieval literature I think, very attractive.
on January 19, 2011 1:04pm
I have some works of mine I'd like to recommend.  Two are available directly from me -- Living with Squirrels, for SATB and piano, about a city dweller learning to love proximity to nature and animals, and The Unicorn in the Garden, for SATB and mixed ensemble, which sets James Thurber's hilarious "Fable for our Time".
More information, including score sample PDFs and performance MP3s, available at
In addition, my setting of The Owl and the Pussycat for SATB and guitar or piano is coming soon from Yelton Rhodes Music.  Feel free to contact me directly for more information about this piece.
All best!
Jonathan Santore
on January 19, 2011 1:54pm
Dear Karen,
I am guessing you can find at least one thread on this popular theme on this list's archive. Let me offer you of my settings that you might find enjoyable to program. Many would be very appealing to a children's audience as well, as they are quite accessible. Tonal modern style. All are a cappella.
Song for Late Summer, 4 minutes, SATB divisi, Shy romantic yearning likened to the cricket's wistful cries. Poem by Doris Avshalomov (my mom)
US 30 in Idaho, SATB divisi, 1 minute, Ironic nature/highway roadkill observation about magpies, over in a flash. Doris Avshalomov. Recently performed in Holland by Vocoza.
The Blossom, SATB, 1 minute, A fun, light, playful Madrigal, fast and rhythmic.  Wm. Blake. Subject: The sparrow, the robin, and the poet's yearning for love.
Tyger, Tyger, 2:10, Blake, A sharp Paean, lively, rhythmic, fierce, finally dire.  Subject: Fearsome nature/the Lamb.
The Lamb, 2:20, The sweetest Prayer, gentle and sustaining.  Subject: The Lamb and Christ. One of my most popular shorts.
A Dream (the lost ant), 2 min., A play-spooky Melodrama; moving and rhythmic. Wm. Blake. Subject: The lost ant’s children rescued from a house fire.
The Fly, 1:20,  A witty, playful Madrigal, lively and rhythmic. Wm. Blake. Are you a Fly or a Man? Blake.
Laughing Song, 3:40, An hilarious playful Madrigal, lively, rhythmic and full. Wm. Blake. Subject: Laughter and youth, includes: "when the painted birds laugh in the shade". Stage business: actual laughter, hilarity breakdown near the end. Terrific fun to sing.
The Little Girl Lost/Found (Lyca), 4 min., Wm. Blake. A narrative, varied Story Madrigal, moderate speed. Subject: A lost girl, symbolic nature rescue--by the lion!.
Motto to the Songs of Innocence and Experience, 2:15, Blake. An ironic canonic Conundrum, lively and rhythmic.  Subject: The twisting of human nature as we mature--the Eagle is known from the Owl.
Night, 3 minutes, Blake. A sweet Prayer, moderate speed.  Subject: Angels protecting us from wild beasts while we sleep, lion lies down with lamb.
Nurses' Song I, 2:45, Blake. An innocent Vignette, moderate speed, with echo-effect divisi at the end. Subject: Children playing innocently on the green while the hills are covered with sheep.
The Schoolboy, 3:30, Blake. An ironic Madrigal, lively and rhythmic.  Subject: Summer School misery--"the skylark sings with me".
The Shepherd, 1:30, Blak. A sweet Prayer, rocking gently. Subject: Guarding the flock. Solo whistling intro and end.
Spring, 1:30, Blake, A charming, playful Madrigal, lively and rhythmic. Subject: Children and lambs in Spring.
I will be glad to send you perusal .pdfs of any of these that interest you, also have performance MP3s of many.
David Avshalomov
Santa Monica,
on January 19, 2011 2:00pm
From the Chester book of Madrigals, Book 1, The Animal Kingdom (I couldn't find the table of contents online, so please forgive typos):
Arcadelt Il bianco e dolce cigno
Banchierei Contrpunto Bestiale
gibbons Silver Swan
Josquin El grillo
Lassus Audite Nova
LeJeune Petite Importune Mouche
Lemlin Der Gutzgauch
Le Jeune Une Puce
Monteverdi Dolcissimo Usignolo
Passereau Il est bel et bon (hmm, really??)
ravenscorft The Three Ravens
Weelkes The Ape, The Monkey, and Baboon
ravenscroft Rounds from Pammelia
Also Quicny Porter's Barnyard Cogitations, some wonderful rounds on Ogden nash poems.
on January 19, 2011 2:02pm
Karen - you might want to take a look/listen....
Jean Berger's FIVE CANZONETS (texts taken from The Beloit Poetry Journal
Publisher is Tetra/Continuo Music Group (cat. #TC-111)
Pepper #1346238 (SATB a cappella)
  • Snake Baked a Hoecake
  • The Prune Song
  • Grasshopper Song
  • Hobby Horse
  • The Frisco Whale
Janiece Kohler
Artistic Director
Orange County Classic Choral Society
Hudson Valley (NY)
on January 19, 2011 2:09pm
Passereau's "Il et bel et bon" (chickens)
Spevacek's "The Turtle Dove"
Rutter's "All Things Bright and Beautiful", of course
Emerson's arrangement of "O Sifuni Mungu"
on January 19, 2011 2:17pm
Take a look at the Chester Book of Madrigals Vol. 1: The Animal Kingdom.
Details can be found here:
on January 19, 2011 2:28pm
Please consider my Woody, a folk tune about a variety of animals that I arranged with bird-call accompaniment. I can send you a perusal score and/or mp3 if you'd like.
Here are other selections about animals my community chorus has performed. Some are rounds, and some 3-part where the tenors and basses joined up.

Hey Ho To the Greenwood (1609) Thomas Ravenscroft
Tomorrow the Fox Will Come To Towne (1609) T. Ravenscroft
A Cat Catch (1685) Robert Brown
Il Blanco e Dolce Cigno (1539) Jacques Arcadelt
The Nightingale the Organ of Delight (1608) Thomas Weelkes
Leave Logs for Frogs (2005) Larry Polansky
Aralo trad. Republic of Georgia horse riding song
El Grillo (1505) Josquin de Pres
Dragana trad. Bulgaria, arr. Philip Koutev (I arranged it for SATB)
Dolcissimo Uscignolo (1638) Claudio Monteverdi (SATB with soprano solo)
Sumer Is Icumin In (13th or 14th cent.)anonymous English
Marjorie, Come Feed the Black Sow anon.

on January 19, 2011 3:48pm
Karen, if you and your choir want to have some fun, you might want to consider my setting of Saxe's grand old fable, "The Blind Men and the Elephant," which Chanticleer premiered some years back to rave reviews, and which I then scaled down for Ragazzi Peninsula Boys Chorus, again to acclaim.  Not only do the kids get to sing, each of the "Blind Men" has a sonic musical motif: the kids play a variety of noise makers: gong; cymbal; wind chimes; tambourine; wood blocks; drumsticks, etc.  In addition, both Chanticleer and Ragazzi added to the fun by passing around a pair of sunglasses, as each solo line was sung.  Let me know if you'd like to read the score and hear a CD.
Good luck in selecting your repertoire!
on January 19, 2011 5:25pm
Jannequin Le Chant des Oiseaux!
on January 19, 2011 7:29pm
You can go on Musica database ( and ask for  one animal after the other to get answers. You will end up with a whole zoo!
Hundreds of answers fitting/
One that comes to my mind is the  Contraponto bestiale of Banchieri .
Have  fun
on January 20, 2011 2:21am
I concur with all my wonderful colleagues...lots of great thematic ideas....also, please consider my "Owls" (from "Pictures of the Northwest" published by National Music Publishers/Fred Bock), a tricky little piece in 7/8 meter and deceptively difficult (SSATBB a cappella), "The Badger and the Flea" (aforementioned), and "Bluejay" 2 part w/piano (WB/Alfred)....cheers,  Vijay
on January 20, 2011 11:04am
These are from a program we did quite a while ago.  Good luck.

All Creatures Great and Small
Assabet Valley Chambersingers
Dr. Robert P. Eaton, Director
El Grillo (The Cricket)..................................................................... Josquin des Pres
The Silver Swan ........................................................................... Orlando Gibbons
Il Bianco e Dolce Cigno (The white sweet swan) .........................................Jacob Arcadelt
S’io Fusse Ciaul (Were I a Tiny Bird) .................................................. Orlando di Lasso
A Little White Hen.........................................................................Antonio Scandello
Il est Bel et Bon (He is handsome and good).............................................Pierre Passereau
The Cuckoo.................................................................................... Lorenz Lemlin
The Nightingale.......................................................................... Felix Mendelssohn
Morning Song from Two “Modrigals” from Shakespeare.................................Eugene Butler
The Fox, the Ape, and the Humble Bee from Three Shakespearean Songs”.....Arthur Frackenpohl
Il Cocodrillo Geme (The Crocodile Weeps)................................................ Orazio Vecchi
Contrapunto Bestiale Alle Mente (The animals improvise counterpoint)............ Adriano Banchieri
The Pink Panther.............................................................Henry Mancini arr. Summers
I Bought Me a Cat.............................................................................Aaron Copland
Memory from Cats.................................................... Andrew Lloyd Webber arr.Lojeski
The Lion Sleeps Tonight ............................................. Weiss, Peretti, Creatore, arr. Funk
The Lobster Quadrille from  Alice in Wonderland.............................................Irving Fine
Skylark........................................................................Hoagy Carmichael arr. Chinn
on January 20, 2011 11:47pm
Love the "Skylark" idea!   Oh, and some time ago, I sang some pieces by a composer named Elliot Levine about different types of animals, and they were so cool.  They are really worth looking up.  Best of luck!  You have been given some good suggestions.
on January 21, 2011 5:37am
Dear Karen:
My BIRDS would be a good choice I think. Here's the Consort Press catalog entry, and a link where you can hear an excerpt:

CP 14 BIRDS  (SSATBB acappella)  3min.   $1.50


on January 21, 2011 9:06am
Karen - I was involved in a concert with exactly the same title: "All Creatures Great and Small" - this is what we sang:
All creatures of our God and King – Walker Robson

The Silver Swan – Orlando Gibbons

The Blue Bird – Charles Villiers Stanford

The Three Ravens – traditional English ballad, arr Paul Ayres
[tenors and basses only]

Schafe können sicher weiden – Johann Sebastian Bach
[trebles only]

Like as the hart desireth the waterbrooks – Herbert Howells

“Collegium Regale” Jubilate – Herbert Howells (a stretch for the theme - because it was a favourite of the singers' - it mentions "we are the sheep of his pasture")

The Swan, from Carnival of the Animals
[organ solo]

All things bright and beautiful – John Rutter

Dindirin – Anonymous

Pusi nofo – traditional Samoan children’s song, arr Christopher Marshall

Rejoice in the Lamb – Benjamin Britten
on January 21, 2011 8:52pm
A perfectly delightful old spiritual called   "De Animals A-comin'   would be very fun.
The opening line goes   Dere's animals and animals and animals and animals and animals and animals, yes Lawd
De animals a comin' one by one the old  cow?  chewin' on a caraway bun. ( don't remember the animal offhand)
A great novelty number.  we use it at our church on Blessing of the Animals Sunday.  the congregation loves it.
David Nordli
on January 21, 2011 10:31pm
Dear Karen:
Please consider programming my fun little piece entitled AN EASY DECISION (SATB & piano - 1 min.) The animals mentioned include a pony and a hippopotomus. You can see a score and hear a professional demo recording by clicking on the link below.
Thank you for your consideration.
Stanley M. Hoffman, Ph.D.
on January 22, 2011 12:08pm
Hello Karen:
 Please listen to these animal songs and let me know if you'd like to see the scores:
1) Emily's Songs - three Emily Dickinson poems featuring wildlife: To Hear An Oriole Sing, I'm Nobody, Hope Is The Thing With Feathers
2) The Magpies - a setting of the famous New Zealand poem
3) Minoi, Minoi - a Samoan song inspired by an ant
4) Pusi Nofo - a Samoan song about a cat (my best recording - of the TTBB version - also available as SATB)
5) La'u Lupe - a sad Samoan song inspired by the flight of a pigeon
6) As I Walked Along The Street - a song about a transistor radio masquerading as a bird in a cherry tree (also available in a new performance on this Arsis CD)
Christopher Marshall
on January 23, 2011 10:23am
I put together a similar concert earlier this year: very enjoyable! Most of the lit has already been mentioned, but Ron Jeffers wrote two settings of Roethke poetry entitled "The Sloth" and "The Serpent.". I believe they are published by earthsongs. Great text (especially for younger audiences) and very sensible writing. I would highly recommend these fun unaccompanied works!
on January 25, 2011 10:29am
And not one of you suggested Gilda Radner's "Let's Talk Dirty to the Animals."   Not every concert must be filled with religious (from the above, it would appear Christian, music.)  We have no idea of what kind choir Ms. Schueller's REALLY is.  Alas...I love the suggestions that are not Christian-based.
Jay A. Kawarsky, BM, MM, DMA
Professor of Music Theory and Composition
Yeah, tons of stuff published, yadda, yadda, yadda....
on January 26, 2011 10:58am
It has been mentioned but again, I'd like to recommend Eric Whitacre's two song cycles, 'Animal Crackers'. Fun and hilarious. 
on January 27, 2011 1:06pm
What a list! Thank you all for your ideas. It will be a far richer concert with variety and breadth of your suggestions.
on January 28, 2011 1:27pm
I have two pieces  which might be of interest to you.  One (SATB)  "Lament for a Bear" addresses the issues polar bears face as the ice caps melt.  The other is SA and is called "Butterfly".  You may see samples of the pieces at  I hope this is helpful to you.
Chris Humphrey
on January 28, 2011 6:32pm
Dear Karen,
Check out Norman Dinerstein's Frogs-  a group of six Japanese Haiku settings dealing with frogs. The community chorus I conduct will begin rehearsals on "Frog-School Competing," no. 5 of the set of six. Carl Fischer publication, no. CM8097. Other titles include "Day darken!" "An old silent pond," "Ho, for the May rains and A tree frog trilling," and "hop out of my way."
Best wishes,
Carl Smith
on January 29, 2011 3:37pm
Not sure if it's been mentioned yet, but one of the movements from William Bergsma's Riddle Me This is entitled "Answer: The Cow". Very clever up-tempo piece. You could also consider "Answer: The Egg" if you don't mind including animals in their embryonic form. :-)
Looks like you have lots of great suggestions. This makes for a wonderful rep resource list!
Happy hunting (no pun intended...OK, maybe a little),
John Muehleisen
on January 31, 2011 3:29pm
'Five eyes' and 'Flight of the Swallows'  by Armstrong Gibbs. 
And solos from Haydn's 'Creation'?
Alex Murchie
on January 31, 2011 6:38pm
So many suggestions already, but here's one more:  my "Eine Kleine Snailmusik," which sets the May Sarton poem about a snail's reaction to classical music, for SATB chorus a cappella.  It's challenging in parts but fun.  best wishes for your program, chris
on February 1, 2011 12:32pm
I am presenting a concert next month entitled "Howls and Meows!" (Choral Music for Our Furry Friends).  It will be a benefit concert for the local Humane Society.  All of the music is about cats and dogs, plus a few pieces about fleas.  If you are interested, here is the repertoire.  I can give you more details on any of these pieces if you contact me.
Songs about Dogs:
Dog from Duluth by Edie Hill (World Premiere, Commissioned Work)
An Elegy on the Death of a Mad Dog by Arthur Frackenpohl
The Hound's Serenade by Anthony Palmer
Engraved on the Collar of a Dog by Phyllis Tate
Tale of a Dog and a Bee by Jean Berger
Old Dog Tray by Stephen Foster
Lone Dog (for Children's Chorus) by Benjamin Britten
Dogs! by Kirby Shaw
Suppertime (from You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown)
Songs about Cats:
The Monk and His Cat by Samuel Barber
The Cat and the Moon by Brian Holmes
Cat and Dog (for Women's Chorus) by Miklos Kocsar
Alley Cat Love Song (for Women's Chorus) by Paul Carey
The Prayer of the Cat by Ivor Davies
The Mysterious Cat by Dan Locklair
December Cats by Dan Locklair
The Purr-ima Donna (for Children's Chorus) by Randall Thompson
Songs about Fleas:
Song of the Flea (for Men's Chorus) by Modeste Mussorgsky
See the Flea? by Philip Hagemann
The Flea (for Men's Chorus) by Michael Cox
  • You must log in or register to be able to reply to this message.