Chapter 16. Choral Reading

Persuasive speech secrets

We have previously discussed reading aloud as individuals. Now we are going to discuss reading aloud in groups. Group reading is to individual reading just as chorus singing is to solo singing.

The basic principles of choral reading are similar to those used for individual oral interpretation, which have been discussed in detail in the previous Chapters 5 and 14. The same system of analysis and study of the material to be read aloud is employed. Our main purpose is still to interpret and deliver a selection to an audience, in a manner in which we focus all attention upon the material being delivered, and not upon ourselves. Our job is communication, our duty is to the selection.

Compare the harmonious blending of a college glee club, singing America the Beautiful, with the solitary efforts of a soloist. The words are the same; the music is the same; but there is a difference in the degree of delivery. The group has a greater potential for volume and softness and the range of effects possible within this scope; the chorus has a greater range in pitch, not to mention harmony of voices, than does the soloist; and the chorus can use a greater variety of speed or tempo than the soloist usually can. Both performances are valid deliveries of the same work. It is the difference in potential, range, and variety that is possible in chorus work, that makes some selections more effective when delivered by a group than when delivered by an individual.

The "To be or not to be" speech from Hamlet is best presented as a soliloquy; but Vachel Lindsay's "The Congo" is a much more exciting and effective poem when delivered by a group that can incorporate a large variety of colorings, effects, and moods. All works are not suitable for choral reading, just as all music is not suitable for choral singing. The selection of material must be carefully made.

People who are reading aloud as a group often get more out of a selection than when they are reading individually. Most of us like to think that we are members of a group. We gain confidence from working with others. Our performances rise to what the group expects us to do, and we participate more freely because we feel that the attention of the audience is centered, not just on us, but on the group.

Choral reading helps to show the individual participant what range and variety his own voice may have, by causing him to participate in exercises that demand variety.

1. How to Practice Choral Reading

Just as a member of the high school band may practice alone the music he will play later with the entire band, so is it possible for you to practice your part in choral reading when you are alone. Your script is your music; your voice is your instrument; the choral reading group is your band.

The rehearsal and practice sessions of the group will be much more profitable if the members of the group practice their parts when alone. Rehearsals are for the purpose of blending together the work that has been done by the individuals, not to rehearse individual persons. In this way the group time is concentrated on the over-all performance and not wasted on correcting individual weaknesses. Remember, any group is only as strong as its weakest member. Be prepared with your own part and work as a member of a team toward the final goal of group delivery.

Practice by Yourself

The same method you use to practice a selection to read as an individual can be applied to practicing a selection you will read with a group.

Let us use the following poem by Ogden Nash as an example. Read the selection aloud to yourself three or more times. Draw a circle around any final consonant which you think you are not sounding, or any word which you are mispronouncing.

Steamer, steamer, outward bound, Couldn't you, wouldn't you turn around? Mightn't you double on your track? Mightn't you possibly bring her back? No, says the steamer, No, no, no! We go, says the steamer, go, go, go! Who, says the steamer, Who are you? Boo! says the steamer, Boo!

Continue to practice reading the selection so as to emphasize and bring out the full meaning behind the selection, but be sure you are following the interpretation that will be used by the entire group.

To be sure you understand the selection, it is best to write a summary of the meaning such as:

A man is standing on the dock, watching a boat leave. On the boat is a woman whom he wished would return to him. He considers asking the boat to turn around, but he hears the boat whistle and interprets it as the boat's answer.

Practice with the Group

The group must decide upon the interpretation of a selection that will be used. Write a summary of the selection as a group, each person making his own copy.

After this has been done, the group should start to read the selection aloud slowly, under the leadership and direction of a conductor or leader. Start with the individual words, their pronunciations and accents. Become familiar with the sound of the words of the selection as well as the sound of the group, DO NOT


VOICES. Instead, make your voice blend until the group speaks as one voice with resonance and harmony. If you want to read alone, read alone, but if you are working with a group then you must blend and have teamwork.

2. How to Make the Choral Reading Manuscript

In order to have the selection on paper in the style that is most useful, it is necessary to re-write the selection. This must be done as a group, with each member making his own copy. This manuscript will be followed by all members of the group and will act as the sheet music does for a band. The manuscript should be written in a manner that is most flexible and useful to the group.


Do not write the manuscript in verse form, but rather make each line represent the thought in the manner in which it is to be read.

This is the way Ogden Nash wrote his poem:

Steamer, steamer, are you sure
You can carry her secure?
Emerge from ice and storm and fog
With an uneventful log?
Chance, says the steamer, I am chance!
Chance, says the steamer, That's romance!
Who, says the steamer, Who are you?
Boo! says the steamer
A choral reading manuscript of it might look like this:
Steamer, steamer . . . Are you sure you can carry her secure?
Emerge from ice ... and storm . . . and fog . . . with an uneventful log?
Chance, says the steamer I am chance!
Chance, says the steamer That's romance!
Whooooo, says the steamer, whoo arc you? Booooooooooool says the steamer. Booooooooooo.

Do not "sing" the selection, unless there is a definite reason for doing so. Let the rhythm emerge through the thought, rather than the thought being submerged in the rhythm.

Persuasive speech secrets

Sound Effect

There is a limitless variety of sound effects that can be achieved by a group, such as the sounds of whistles, wind, waves, thunder, airplanes, etc. These effects enhance a selection and add a coloring and interpretation that an individual reader could never achieve.

Notice how Ogden Nash's poem is highlighted with such effects:

CHORUS: (sound of waves)

CHORUS OF BOYS: (sound of distant boat whistle)

CHORUS: (sound of waves)

CHORUS OF BOYS: Steamer, steamer, outward bound, couldn't you, wouldn't you turn around? Mightn't you double on your track? Mightn't you possibly bring her back? CHORUS OF GIRLS: NOOOO, sez thuh steamer, NO . . .

NO ... NO! WE GO, sez thuh steamer, GO ... GO ... GO! BOY (deep bass): WHOOOO, sez thuh steamer, WHOOO, ARE YOUUUUU? CHORUS OF BOYS: (like a deep ocean liner whistle) BOOOOO,

sez thuh steamer, BOOOOOOOOO.

Additional sound effects should not be added, however, just for the sake of the noise or impression they will make. Their effect is greatest when used sparingly.

Grouping of Voices

You will notice that in the selection above, voices were grouped: boys' voices were matched against girls' voices. But, there are other ways to group voices.

HIGH PITCHED VOICES: Steamer, steamer, outward bound, couldn't you, wouldn't you turn around?

MEDIUM PITCHED VOICES: Mightn't you double on your track? Mightn't you possibly bring her back?

LOW PITCHED VOICES: Noooo, sez thuh steamer, NOO . . . NOOO . . . NOOOOOOO! WE GOOOO, sez thuh steamer, GOO . . . GOOOO . . . GOOOOOOOO! WHOOOOO, sez thuh steamer, WIIOOOO . . . ARE . . . YOUUUUUUU? AT.T. VOICES: BOOOOOOOOO, sez thuh steamer, BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO.

Voices may also be grouped according to certain characters that are speaking, or certain thoughts or ideas that stand out. Often, repeated lines within a poem are given to a certain group of voices for emphasis. Notice how, in music, certain themes are given to the violin section, while others are best interpreted by the trumpet section. The principle in choral reading is the same. The greater the variation within a single selection, the greater the enjoyment will be to the audience and to the performers.

ProseDeclaration of Independence

Write your manuscript so that it is easy to read. Try to put as much on one line as possible, so the eye does not have to jump back and forth too much.

"When ... in the Course of human events ... it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another . . . and to assume among the Powers of the earth . . . the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them ... a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation. . . ."


Mark the spelling of both the poetry and the prose so that it is closer to the desired sound; capitalize sounds which need stressing.

We hold theze truthz to be self-evidenT . . . That all mchn are creatid equal, that they are endowed by their KREE-AYE-TOR with certain in . . . ale . . . yen . . . uh . . . h'l rights, that among theze are . . ."

3. Vocal Arrangement

The script for a choral reading can be orchestrated similar to a symphony or a song. It is possible to occasionally use a solo voice, a special sound effect, or groupings of voices for special effects and emphasis. Sometimes the material itself will suggest such ideas of orchestration.

Solo Voice

Continuing with the Declaration of Independence, the solo voice would be effective in certain uses:

CHORUS: . . . rights, that among these are . . , HOY: Life GIRL: Liberty

BOY AND GIRL: and the pursuit of Happiness. CHORUS: That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Mehn, deriving their . . .

One method of emphasis is the use of solo voices in the midst of choral reading. It draws attention to certain ideas and aspects of the work which the group wishes to point out.

4. How to Present Choral Reading

It is not necessary that all selections be fully memorized by the group, although this is frequently done. A manuscript can be held in the hand, or shared between two people, and concealed in a binder that will not distract.

Facial expressions should reflect the atmosphere of the selection. The group should look alive and vibrant! A limited amount of movement may be permitted, such as one group turning to read to another group, or a slight swaying to the beat of the selection. But these movements are the exception and not the rule, and the inclusion of any movement should not be made until it has been very carefully considered.

The director (and students should be encouraged to direct) may stand before the group with his back to the audience, or he may take his place with the other boys and girls, relying upon previous instructions to be remembered. In any case, the director should not call attention to himself.

Choral reading can be one of the most enjoyable and successful speech activities for the entire class. But, it is the teamwork that will determine the success and the end results.

Persuasive speech secrets



  1. Prepare a choral reading program for the assembly. A wide variety of selections should be included. See the end of the chapter for further selections suitable for choral reading.
  2. Prepare one or more selections for presentation to other non-speech classes.
  3. Prepare a reading program for presentation to church groups. Religions literature lends itself well to choral perform ance.
  4. Drills in articulation are of use to the verse choir. See other chapters in this volume or any good voice and diction book for assistance here.
  5. Prepare a manuscript for two of the selections listed at the end of this chapter. Write them on the blackboard and lead the class in a choral reading of the selections. Be sure also to include a summary of each selection.
  6. Divide the class into groups of eight people. Select a work to be read by a small group, write a summary, make a manuscript, and present a choral reading to the class. Work for the maximum effect possible with a small group, using as many vocal arrangements as are suitable to the work.

Selections for Choral Reading

1. "Light" by Francis Bourdillon

Here is a lyric with that touch of universality that tempts each one of us to make it his own lone song. It doesn't belong to any one person. It should be read with great evenness and smoothness, and should be given a warmth of tone.

The night lias a thousand eyes,
And the day hut one,
Yet the light of the whole world dies
With the dying sun.
The mind has a thousand eyes,
And the heart but one,
Yet the light of a whole life dies
When love is done.

2. "The Quaker's Wooing"

This is an American ballad of whose authorship we know nothing at all. However that is not surprising, for ballads of the people spring up without benefit of authors and grow like Topsy.

This poem is a conversation between Mm and her, separated by refrain lines from the chorus in the mood of the solo speaker. We might almost imagine the refrain of the chorus to he spoken by the friends of these two, half mockingly, sad or boastful on the "Oh, oh, oh, oh" then carefree and gay, even flippant, on the "Fol de rol de hey ding di do."

Sadly. I had a true love but she left me,

Oh, oh, oh, oh,

And now I am broken-hearted,

Oh, oh, oh, oh."

Without much SOLO II (GIRL)
sympathy. "Well, if she's gone I wouldn't mind her,

Fol de rol de hey ding di do,

You'll soon find one that'll prove much kinder,

Fol de rol de hey ding day."

Boasting. SOLO I
"I've a house and forty servants,

Oh, oh, oh, oh,

And thee may be the mistress of them,

Oh, oh, oh, oh."

Haughty manner. SOLO II
"I'll not do your scolding for you,

Fol de rol de hey ding di do,

'Deed I feel myself above you,

Fol de rol de hey ding day."

A little bit of pleading. "I've a ring worth twenty shilling,

Oh, oh, oh, oh,

And thee may wear it, if thee's willing,

Oh, oh, oh, oh."

Flippantly. SOLO II
"What care I for rings or money,

Fol de rol de hey ding di do,

I'm for the man who calls me honey,

Fol de rol de hey ding day."

(The following selections are presented with suggestions for interpretation. Prepare your own manuscript, similar to the ones above.)

3. From Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

Suggestions for interpretation: The snail might be read by thin voices, and the whiting by one deep voice. The choruses could feature contrasting group voices, one group taking "Will you" another group "wont you" etc.

"Will you walk a little faster?" said a whiting to a snail, There's a porpoise close behind us, and he's treading on my tail. See how eagerly the lobsters and the turtles all advance! They are waiting on the shinglewill you come and join the dance? Will you, won't you, will you, won't you, will you join the dance?

Will you, won't you, will you, won't you, won't you join the dance?

"You can really have no notion how delightful it will be When they take us up and throw us, with the lobsters, out to sea!" But the snail replied, "Too far, too far!" and gave a look askance-Said he thanked the whiting kindly, but he would not join the dance.

Would not, could not, would not, could not, would not join the dance.

Would not, could not, would not, could not, could not join the dance.

Would not, could not, would not, could not, could not join the dance. "What matters it how far we go?" his scaly friend replied. There is another shore, you know, upon the other side. "The further off from England the nearer is to France. Then turn not pale, beloved snail, but come and join the dance. Will you, won't you, will you, won't you, will you join the dance?

Will you, won't you, will you, won't you, won't you join the dance?"

4. The Mayflower Compact, Plymouth, Massachusetts, November 11, 1620

Suggestions for interpretation: The invocation could be given by one voice. The body of the selection could be read by the group. After the date, "1620," some patriotic music might begin softly in the background, and increase to form the conclusion. The names of the signers could be called out by individual voices over the sound effect.

In the Name of God, Amen.

We, whose names are underwritten, the Loyal Subjects of our dread Sovereign Lord King James . . . Having undertaken for the Glory of God, and Advancement of the Christian Faith, and the Honour of our King and Country, a Voyage to plant the first colony in the northern Parts of Virginia; Do by these Presents, solemnly and mutually in the Presence of God and one another, covenant and combine ourselves together into a civil Body Politick, for our better Ordering and Preservation, and Furtherance of the Ends aforesaid; And by Virtue hereof to enact, constitute, and frame, such just and equal Laws, Ordinances, Acts, Constitutions, and Offices, from time to time, as shall be thought most meet and convenient for the general Good of the Colony; unto which we promise all due Submission and Obedience. In Witness whereof we have hereunder subscribed our names at Cape Cod the eleventh of November, in the year of the Reign of our Sovereign Lord King James of England, France, and Ireland, the eighteenth and of Scotland, the fifty-fourth. Anno Domini, 1620.

John CarverIsaac AllertonFrancis Eaton
William BradfordMiles StandishJames Chilton
Edward WinslowJohn Alden John Craxton
William BrewsterJohn Turner

5. "Jesse James," from John A. Lomax and Alan Lomax's American Ballads and Folk Songs.

Suggestions for interpretation: The second or third line in each stanza could be read solo, by different individuals. These lines might be given conversationally, with the rest of the group giving reaction by facial expression. Certain of the verses could exaggerate the rhythm, such as "Jesse JAMES was a LAD that killed a-many a MAN."

Jesse James was a lad that killed a-many a man; He robbed the Danville train. But that dirty little coward that shot Mr. Howard Has laid poor Jesse in his grave.Poor Jesse had a wife to mourn for his life, Three children, they were brave. But that dirty little coward that shot Mr. Howard Has laid poor Jesse in his grave.

It was Robert Ford, that dirty little coward,

I wonder how he does feel,

For he ate of Jesse's bread and he slept in Jesse's bed,

Then laid poor Jesse in his grave.

Jesse was a man, a friend to the poor,

He never could see a man suffer pain:

And with his brother Frank he robbed the Chicago bank,

And stopped the Glendale train.

It was his brother Frank that robbed the Gallatin bank, And carried the money from the town;

It was in this very place that they had a little race, For they shot Captain Sheets to the ground.

They went to the crossing not very far from there,

And there they did the same;

And with the agent on his knees, he delivered up the keys

To the outlaws, Frank and Jesse James.

It was on Wednesday night, the moon was shining bright,

They robbed the Glendale train;

The people they did say, for many miles away,

It was robbed by Frank and Jesse James.

It was on Saturday night, Jesse was at home Talking with his family brave, Robert Ford came along like a thief in the night And laid poor Jesse in his grave.

The people held their breath when they heard of Jesse's death,

And wondered how he ever came to die.

It was one of the gang called little Robert Ford,

He shot poor Jesse on the sly.

Jesse went to his rest with his hand on his breast; The devil will be upon his knee. He was born one day in the county of Clay And came from a solitary race.

This song was made by Billy Gashade,

As soon as the news did arrive;

He said there was no man with the law in his hand

Who could take Jesse James when alive.

6. "A Book" by Emily Dickinson

There is no frigate like a book To take us lands away, Nor any coursers like a page Of prancing poetry.

This little verse could be used as an encore piece. A solo voice could say lines 1 and 3, and everyone lines 2 and 4.

7. "Our American Flag" by Edna Mechan

Low voices: Red as the blood of our heroes

Middle voices: Blue as the star spattered skies,

High voices: White as the purest flowers,

Low voices: Proud as the look in our eyes,

Middle voices: Symbol of all that we cherish

High voices: Flying as free as the breeze,

All: Flag that we love, fly forever,

All: Over our lands and our seas.

Try the above arrangement for a verse choir. Then experiment with other arrangements.

8. "The Promise of America" by Thomas Wolfe, from You Cant Go Home Again.

Suggestions for interpretation: The beauty of this work lies in the flow of the language and the word-images it creates. "Color' the words, make the audience see the vast country from the top of a mountain. Vary the tempo and pitch for each city; make the end of the selection sing with liberty and freedom.

Go, seeker, if you will, throughout the land and . . . there where the hackles of the Rocky Mountains blaze in the blank and naked radiance of the moon, make your resting stool upon the highest peak. Can you not see . . . the plain sweeps out against the East, two thousand miles away. The great snake that you see there is the Mississippi River.

That spreading constellation to the north is called Chicago, and that giant wink that blazes in the moon is the lake that it is built upon. . . . There's Boston, ringed with the bracelet of its shining little towns, and all the lights that sparkle on the rocky indentations of New England . . . and, yet, still coasted to the sea, is our intensest ray, the splintered firmament of the towered island of Manhattan. Round about her, sown thick as grain, is the glitter of a hundred towns and cities. The long chain of lights there is the necklace of Long Island and the Jersey shore. Southward, behold the duller glare of Philadelphia. South ward further still, the twin constellationsBaltimore and Washington. Westward . . . that night-time glow is Pittsburgh. Here, Saint Louis, hot and humid in the cornfield belly of the land . . . There at the snake's mouth . . . you see the jeweled crescent of old New Orleans. Here west and south again you see the gemmy glitter of the cities on the Texas border.

Now, turn seeker, on your resting stool atop the Rocky Mountains and look another thousand miles or so across moon-blazing fiend-worlds of the Painted Desert, and beyond Sierra's ridge. That magic congeries of light there, ringed like a studded belt around the magic setting of its lovely harbor, is San Francisco. Below it, Los Angeles and all the cities of the California shore. A thousand miles to north and west, the sparkling towns of Oregon and Washington.

Observe the whole of it, survey it as you might survey a field. Make it your garden, seeker, or your back yard patch. Be at ease in it. It's your oysteryours to open, if you will. Don't be frightened, it's not so big now, when your footstool is the Rocky Mountains. Reach out and dip a hatful of cold water from Lake Michigan. Drink ityou'll not find it bad. Take your shoes off and work your toes down into the river oozes of the Mississippi bottomit's very refreshing on a hot night in the summertime. Help yourself to a bunch of Concord grapes up there in northern New York State ... Or raid the watermelon patch down there in Georgia . . . Just make yourself at home, refresh yourself, get the feel of things, adjust your sights, and get the scale. It's your pasture now and it's not so bigonly three thousand miles from east to west, only two thousand miles from north to south-but all between, where ten thousand points of light prick out the cities, towns, and villages there, seeker ... to every man his chanceto every man, regardless of his birth, his shining, golden opportunityto every man the right to live, to work, to be himself, and to become whatever thing his manhood and his vision can combine to make himthis, seeker, is the promise of America.

9. "Look What You Did, Christopher!" by Ogden Nash, from The Face Is Familiar. Some liberties have been taken with the original punctuation to insure clarity for choral reading.

Suggestions for interpretation: There is opportunity here for solo voices. In the second verse, different voices could represent different nationalities. Dialect might even be attempted.

In fourteen hundred and ninety-two, Somebody sailed the ocean blue. Somebody borrowed the fare in Spain For a business trip on the bounding main, And to prove to people, by actual test You could get to the East by traveling West, Somebody said "Sail on! Sail on!" And studied China and China's lingo, And cried from the bow, "There's China now!" And promptly bumped into San Domingo. Somebody murmured, "Oh dear, oh dear! I've discovered the Western Hemisphere."

And that, you may think, my friends, was that.

But it wasn't. Not by a fireman's hat.

Well enough wasn't left alone,

And Columbus was only a cornerstone.

There came the Spaniards,

There came the Greeks,

There came the pilgrims in leather breeks.

There came the Dutch,

And the Poles and Swedes,

The Persians, too,

And perhaps the Medes,

The Letts, the Laps and the Lithuanians,

Regal Russians, and ripe Roumanians.

There came the French,

And there came the Finns,

And the Japanese with their friendly grins.

The Tartars came,

And the Terrible Turks

In a word, humanity shot the works.

And the country that should have been Cathay

Decided to be the U. S. A.

10. "To the Wayfarer" (a poem fastened to trees in the Portu guese forests)

Suggestions for interpretation: The first line could be given by the group, while the next four lines, each beginning with "I am," could be taken by contrasting smaller groups. The last line might be done by the group.

Ye who pass by and would raise your hand against me, heakenere you harm me. I am the heat of your hearth on the cold winter nights, the friendly shade screening you from summer sun, and my fruits are refreshing draughts, quenching your thirst as you journey on. I am the beam that holds your house, the board of your table, the bed on which you lie, the timber that builds your boat. I am the handle of your hoe, the door of your homestead, the wood of your cradle and the shell of your coffin. I am the bread of kindness and the flower of beauty. Ye who pass by, listen to my prayer: harm me not.

11. "Abou Ben Adhem" by Leigh Hunt

Suggestions for interpretation: The entire selection seems best done by the entire group. Shades of volume and speed will be needed to bring out the meaning.

Abou Ben Adhem (may his tribe increase!) Awoke one night from a deep dream of peace, And saw within the moonlight in his room, Making it rich, like a lily in bloom, An angel, writing in a book of gold; Exceeding peace had made Ben Adhem bold, And to the presence in the room he said, "What writest thou?" The vision raised its head, And with a look made of all sweet accord, Answered, "The names of those who love the Lord."

"And is mine one?" said Abou. "Nay, not so,"

Replied the angel. Abou spoke more low,

But cheerily still; and said, "I pray thee, then,

Write me as one that loves his fellow-men."

The angel wrote and vanished. The next night

It came again, with a great awakening light,

And showed the names whom love of God had blessed,

And, lo! Ben Adhem's name led all the rest.

12. "An Overworked Elocutionist" by Carolyn Wells

Suggestions for interpretation: The first and last sections should be conversational in nature, whereas the middle should he oratorical. Lines such as "King Henry of Navarre!" and "to he or not to he" could he assigned as solos. How many poems can you recognize whose parts have been used here?

Once there was a little boy, whose name was Robert Reece;

And every Friday afternoon he had to speak a piece.

So many poems thus he learned, that soon he had a store

Of recitations in his head and still kept learning more.

And now this is what happened: he was called upon one week

And totally forgot the piece he was about to speak.

His brain he cudgeled. Not a word remained within his head!

And so he spoke at random, and this is what he said:

"My Beautiful, my beautiful, who standest proudly by, It was the schooner Hesperusthe breaking waves dashed high! Why is this Forum crowded: What means this stir in Rome? Under a spreading chestnut tree, there is no place like home!

When freedom from her mountain height cried 'Twinkle, little star.'

Shoot, if you must, this old gray head, King Henry of Navarre! Roll on, thou deep and dark blue castled crag of Drachenfels, My name is Norval, on the Grampian hills, ring out, wild bells! If you're waking, call me early, to be or not to be, The curfew must not ring tonight! Oh, woodman, spare that tree! Charge, Chester, Charge! On, Stanley, on! and let who will be


The boy stood on the burning deck, but I go on forever!"

His elocution was superb, his voice and gestures fine; His schoolmates all applauded as he finished the last line. "I see it doesn't matter," Robert thought, "what words I say, So long as I declaim with oratorical display."

13. "The Kitchen Clock" by John Vance Cheney

Suggestions for interpretation: The entire selection can be read over a rhythmic sound effect of the "tick" of a clock. The tempo of the clock can vary according to the subject matter. The last verse should slow down until the clock stops.

Knitting is the maid o' the kitchen, Milly,

Doing nothing sits the chore boy, Billy:

"Seconds reckoned, seconds reckoned,

Every minute,

Sixty in it.

Milly, Billy,

Billy, Milly,

Tick-tock, tock-tick,

Nick-knock, knock-nick,

Knockety-nick, nickety-knock,"

Goes the kitchen clock.

Closer to the fire is rosy Milly, Every whit as close and cozy, Billy: "Time's a-flying, worth your trying; Pretty Milly-Kiss her, Billy! Milly, Billy, Billy, Milly, Tick-tock, tock-tick, Nownow, quick-quick! Knockety-nick, nickety-knock," Goes the kitchen clock.

Something's happened, very red is Milly, Billy boy is looking very silly; "Pretty misses, plenty kisses; Make it twenty, take a plenty. Billy, Milly, Milly, Billy, Right-left, left-right, That's right, all right,

Knockety-nick, nickety-knock," Goes the kitchen clock.

Weeks gone, still they're sitting, Milly, Billy;

Oh, the winter winds are wondrous chilly!

"Winter weather, close together;

Wouldn't tarry, better marry.

Milly, Billy,

Billy, Milly,

Two-one-, one-two,

Don't wait, 'twon't do,

Knockety-nick, nickety-knock,"

Goes the kitchen clock.

Winters two have gone, and where is Milly?

Spring has come again, and where is Billy?

"Give me credit, for I did it:

Treat me kindly,

Mind you wind me.

Mister Billy, Mistress Milly,

My-O, O-my,

By-by, by-by,

Nickety-knock, cradle rock,"

Goes the kitchen clock.

Sources for Additional Selections

Marjorie Gullan. Choral Speaking (Boston: Expression Co.)

Agnes C. Hamm. Selections for Choral Speaking (Boston: Expression Co.)

H. G. Hicks, The Reading Chorus (New York: Noble and Noble)

Elizabeth Keppie. The Teaching of Choric Reading (Boston: Expression Co.)

M. E. De Witt. Let Us Recite Together (Poughkeepsie: Vassar Cooperative Book)

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