Here are two winter songs for children that Mary Alice and I have sung for a long time that I turned into simple choral arrangements that are now available on our online choral sheet music download library/store. Both include guitar chords and composed piano accompaniment.
Stopping by the Woodsby Robert Frost, music by Peter Amidon
I set this poem to music in collaboration with a sixth grader in one of my music classrooms in 1978, and I composed the piano accompaniment for the song a few weeks ago. When Mary Alice and I perform this for children I tell a story about a man who lives in northwestern Vermont a hundred years ago who had promised to visit a friend, but had no way to let the friend know when he was coming. After putting the trip off for a few days, he leaves on his horse to visit his friend one mid-winter morning as a storm gathers. When he passes by a frozen pond the snow starts. He pauses there, watches, and listens, then continues on his trip to his friend. When he returns home he remembers that moment by the frozen pond with the snow and writes it into a poem.
Here is the Washington Post on the actual story of how Robert Frost was inspired wrote the poem:
The poem, with its moody pondering of mortality, was born in a flash of inspiration midway through Frost’s life of professional acclaim and personal loss. In the summer of 1922, the poet was struggling with a long poem at his home in Shaftsbury, Vt. He had been working all night in the kitchen, Parini said, frustrated and thwarted. He crumpled up his efforts and went out onto the porch in time to see the first glow of dawn. Somehow, the sunrise of a dry summer morning evoked in his tired writer’s mind the evening of a snowy winter’s day. Almost a “hallucination,” he would say later. He turned back to his pen and one of the century’s great poems was born “without strain,” in Frost’s words.
My “Stopping by the Woods” song and arrangement are available here.
* * * * *
Sunny Banktraditional – American version of an English Christmas carol, arr. Peter & Mary Alice Amidon
This is a quintessential distillation of a beautiful traditional English melody into, arguably, an even more preciously simple gem of an Appalachian melody. Mary Alice and I started singing this together when we first met in 1975. A few years ago I created a simple piano/choral arrangement of “Sunny Bank” for the Guilford Community Church Choir. I don’t have a good recording of this arrangement yet, but here is the Guilford Community Church Choir singing an early version of my piano/choral arrangement. This performance reminds me of how infectiously joyful Mary Alice’s singing is.
Our “Sunny Bank” guitar/piano/choral arrangement is available here.