Stewards Of The Earth

by Teresa Jennings

Earth Day falls on April 22, and as always, we like to provide music for you to use with your students for the celebration of the event. Of particular note this year, 2010, is the 40th anniversary of Earth Day. Odds are, your school will have events and programs surrounding this milestone. At the very least, it is a chance to talk about the problems facing our planet, steps we have taken to fix them, and what we can do in the future to help. Having a musical program is always one of our favorite ways to bring attention to a subject, and toward that end, we have created a lovely new song you can use if you wish. (We have many resources that could help, by the way. For more information, check out the Earth Day feature on page 63.)

"Stewards Of The Earth" is a gentle hymn to our planet. It is written with flexibility, so that you can tailor it to your situation. There are a number of ways you can perform it, including:

  • all unison (part 1 only)
  • unison with solos
  • part 1 and part 2 only
  • part 1 and part 2 with solos
  • parts 1, 2, and 3 as written with solos
  • parts 1, 2, and 3 as written without solos

Additionally, you can mix it up even more by having one soloist do all solo work, or use more than one soloist. The solos happen at measure 5 for eight bars the first time and at the end of the song at measure 23. On the recording, we used one soloist at the top (Grace Morgan) and a different soloist at the end (Celia Ellsworth). But again, choose your own formula. Use two soloists at the top, or three, or four. Use them individually or together. Use some or all of them at the end. Use them the second time at measure 5, too, instead of unison part 1. You see? Anything you do is okay.

You can also choose soloists or soli groups to perform part 2 and/or part 3 if those are too challenging for the whole group. You will note that part 3 is written in bass clef. It is ideally pitched for your lower, changing, or changed voices. The one possible exception to this is in measure 22, when they have a high F#. But there is an optional D written, which you may use instead.

If you're not sure about using parts 2 and 3, consider bringing in older helpers from other classes, or even adults, to sing these parts. If you don't use the three vocal parts, the piece still works nicely as the lines are still covered in the orchestration on the recording. Even so, if you choose to use the song live, the piano accompaniment is quite lovely and will sound beautiful.

There are many opportunities for musicality indicated on the piano/vocal part, and if you have time to develop them, it will be worth the effort. Notably, there are dynamic nuances here and there. And of course, the sudden release of complex sound when the last solo happens is a prime musical moment that you can teach your students to work toward and appreciate.

To help you with your many options, we have created several recordings of this song to use however you need - for reference and/or performance. On the CD, there are four versions: the full version with solos and parts (track 2), unison version with solos (track 16), unison version without solos (track 17), and the instrumental accompaniment-only version (track 21). To assist you in teaching, we have isolated parts 2 and 3 and put them on our web site as free downloads. We have also recorded an a cappella version so that you and your students can hear how the parts sounds together purely. It's also not a bad idea to perform the piece a cappella if you have the talent in your group to do so. It would be very nice.

One more note, we suggest having students sing "thee" when they sing "the earth." Also, don't use a glottal on the "e" of the word "earth." The long "e" sound flows into the "y" sound better, and it's more gentle: theeyearth. Listen to our performers for an example of what we mean.

Online extras - The free, downloadable extras mentioned can be found under the Graphics and Extras for Volume 20, No. 4 at

Text is taken from Music K-8 magazine.