Molly Malone (Cockles and Mussels)

arr. by Karl O' Hitzemann

The Irish folk song, "Molly Malone" (also known as "Cockles and Mussels") is the unofficial anthem of Dublin, Ireland, making it a great choice for your St. Patrick's Day celebration if you like. The song tells the fictional tale of a young fishmonger from the 17th century who pushed her wheelbarrow full of cockles and mussels through the streets of Dublin, but caught a bad fever and died very young. It was first published in the United States in 1883, and has been recorded countless times by artists like The Dubliners, The Irish Tenors, Sinéad O'Connor, and many more. In 1988, a life-size, bronze statue of Molly Malone was placed on Grafton Street in the heart of Dublin. (Be forewarned, some might find this statue a bit risqué.)

Our arrangement of this old tune features two vocal parts, but would work just as well in unison, of course. You also have the option of using a soloist from measures 34 to 42. It makes for a nice, tender moment in the piece, but again, if you'd rather have your whole choir sing (or a small group), that would work well, too. If you do choose to use the second vocal part, you will find an isolated part 2 rehearsal track on our web site that will help your singers learn the part.

The recorded accompaniment features piano, guitar, upright bass, flutes, and a penny whistle. Notice that at measure 34 the tempo slows a bit and the accompaniment switches to a string quartet, piano, and penny whistle, to depict Molly's passing. It's a sad moment, to be sure, but the song does end on an upbeat note as the original tempo returns for the final "Alive, alive, oh!" chorus. In a performance setting, you might consider asking your audience to join in for the last chorus. Chances are, many of them will know the song.

Text is taken from Music K-8 magazine.