Mama Lisa's World
International Music & Culture
Come Little Leaves
(American Kids Song)
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"Come Little Leaves" was written by the American poet George Cooper (1838–1927), music by Thomas J. Crawford.

Come Little Leaves
Children's Song

"Come, little leaves,"
Said the wind one day,
"Come over the meadows
With me, and play;
Put on your dresses
Of red and gold;
Summer is gone,
And the days grow cold."

Soon as the leaves
Heard the wind's loud call,
Down they came fluttering,
One and all;
Over the meadows
They danced and flew,
Singing the soft
Little songs they knew.

Dancing and flying
The little leaves went;
Winter had called them
And they were content-
Soon fast asleep
In their earthy beds,
The snow laid a soft mantle
Over their heads.
 
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Notes

Here's the full version of the original song "Come Little Leaves" (verses 1, 3 & 5 used to be sung):

"Come, little leaves," said the wind one day,
"Come over the meadows with me, and play;
Put on your dresses of red and gold;
Summer is gone, and the days grow cold."

Soon as the leaves heard the wind's loud call,
Down they came fluttering, one and all;
Over the brown fields they danced and flew,
Singing the soft little songs they knew.

"Cricket, good-bye, we've been friends so long;
Little brook, sing us your farewell song-
Say you're sorry to see us go;
Ah! you are sorry, right well we know."

"Dear little lambs, in your fleecy fold,
Mother will keep you from harm and cold;
Fondly we've watched you in vale and glade;
Say, will you dream of our loving shade?"

Dancing and whirling the little leaves went;
Winter had called them and they were content-
Soon fast asleep in their earthy beds,
The snow laid a soft mantle over their heads.

Here's a shorter version:

"Come little leaves," said the wind one day,
"Come o'er the meadows with me and play,
Put on your dresses of red and gold,
For summer is gone and the days grow cold."
Soon as the leaves heard the wind's loud call,
Down they came fluttering, one and all,
Over the brown fields they danced and flew,
Singing the sweet little songs they knew.

*****

Serena Kanig Benish wrote: "My mother taught me 'Come Little Leaves' to a tune unlike those I have heard. I was always delighted with the song, and whenever the leaves start to fall in Autumn, I sing that song. I have taught it to my children. (I am a professional classical singer and I firmly believe that the singing of these little songs when I was a child helped to shape my future!) My mother is now nearly 95 and we like to sing these childhood songs to her to jar her memory. I wanted to sing the whole song as we had never quite been clear of the last verse. Thank you for your website, and then to find Eugene Field and those marvelous poems, all from my childhood, too. My older brother had received as a baby 'The Bumper Book' and how long I have poured over those pages! I especially loved the additional reference to why Eugene Field wrote 'Little Boy Blue.'

Thank you,

Serena Kanig Benish

PS I think that the tune to "Come Little Leaves" we here in Central Utah all learned from our grandparents is a version of 'Hush Little Baby, Don't Say a Word.' I never made the connection when I was younger; they were just different songs to me, but as I heard them when I was a music student, I realized the tune! Interesting how tunes morph into different areas. It fits perfectly!"

Comments

Here's a game you can play or a little show you can put on with this song from Pettijohn's Children's Games c1900 (The American Cereal Co.):

A number of children are chosen to represent leaves
by dancing and whirling about in the center of the
circle, at the words "Down they came fluttering" etc.
After the rhyme is ended and the leaves are quietly
sleeping on the floor, the children in the circle play it
is raining by pattering on the floor, with their finger
tips, at first softly, then loud. The rain ceases and
wind whistles and blows through the trees, the children's
arms sway like branches: then a soft, deep snow
falls, the finger tips dancing in the air like snow flakes.
A chord on the piano or a sunbeam fairy changes the
leaves back to children again.

Thanks and Acknowledgements

Thanks to Serena Kanig Benish for sharing memories about this song!

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