The Carpenter Song

University of Maryland Digital Collections.

This song is dated 1873-1900 and was taught in kindergartens associated with the International Kindergarten Union.

We have the lyrics but not the score. Is anyone familiar with the song? Although the records show the song was taught in the United States the origin may have been Germany (where the kindergarten movement started).

The hands at the top indicate the possibility of hand movements to go along with the progression of the song (as in Itsy-Bitsy Spider or Here’s the Church-Here’s the Steeple-Open the Doors and See All the People).

Any help would be appreciated!

Suzanne Ellison

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23 Responses to The Carpenter Song

  1. Jeff Burks says:

    Mother-play and Nursery Songs: Poetry, Music and Pictures for the Noble Culture of Child Life with Notes to Mothers

    Friedrich Fröbel – Lee and Shepard, 1898


  2. muddleheadedww says:

    Count the syllables in the first two lines. Then look in the index of tunes in a good hymn book (eg the music edition of Hymns Ancient and Modern).
    There will be a tune to fit that syllable count .


  3. Caleb Ringwald says:

    Well, no idea about the song, but the fachwerk houses in the background (bottom left hand corner) certainly suggest German origin.


  4. davevaness says:

    Baby Saw doo doo doo doo doo doo !


  5. Jeff Burks says:

    This 1878 edition of Mother-play and Nursery Songs does not give translation credits on the title page like the later version that I linked above.

    “Translated from the German by Fannie E. Dwight and Josephine Jarvis”

    There are two versions of the music for this song in this book:
    The Songs and Music of Friedrich Froebel’s Mother Play – 1895

    The first is credited to: Emilie Poulsson & W.W. Gilchrist

    The second is credited to Emilie Poulsson, Euphemia M. Parker
    Arr. by F.F. Bullard

    The German lyrics to the song “Der Zimmermann” are here: 1874 & 1883 editions. I think the original book was published in 1844.

    Mutter- und Kose Lieder: Dichtung und Bilder zur edlen Pflege des Kindheitlebens : ein Familienbuch

    How soon until we get a video of Chris singing this song with musical accompaniment by the Lost Art Press crew?


  6. Phil Schempf says:

    This is close –

    Lyrics are a bit different, but may fit either set.

    Here’s another source –

    The same illustration you show above is on the preceding page. Hmmm – same pub Jeff cited above.


  7. Jeff Burks says:

    I did not find an audio recording of the Carpenter/Zimmermann song, but I did find audio selections from the same books:

    There is a CD here with audio recordings of some of the English translations. Maybe when volume 2 is released it will contain the Carpenter song.

    Here is a collection of 12 of the songs in German. “Der Tischler” is about woodworking.

    I’m having my doubts that Chris will be able to hit these notes. Nothing a lump hammer can’t fix though.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Phil Schempf says:

    You were right about the hand motions – they are described here –

    Hopefully you can decipher Herr Froebel’s description.


  9. Jeff Burks says:

    Here is a link to a pdf edition of the original German text that has been transcribed so that you can copy and paste the lyrics without having to deal with blackletter text. It contains the German version of the description of the hand movements as well.

    Der Zimmermann.
    Was Liebe zum Kinde doch alles ersann!
    Jetzt seht ihr gar, wie einen Zimmermann
    Durch Hand und Finger gestalten sie kann.
    „Was immer von Andern dem Kinde geschieht,
    Ein Etwas gewiß es im Kinde erzieht:
    D‘rum such es durch bildliches Deuten,
    Vom Sinnlichen
    Zum Sinnigen
    Hinüber mit Klarheit zu leiten.“
    Seht mir nur den Zimmermann,
    Welch‘ seltne Kunst er üben kann:
    Was steht, bringt er zum Sturz;
    Was lang ist, macht er kurz;
    Das Runde macht er grad;
    Das Rauhe macht er glatt;
    Was krumm ist, macht er gleich;
    So ist an Kunst er reich.
    Das Einzle nicht ihm gnügt,
    Zum Ganzen schnell er‘s fügt;
    Doch, was kommt da heraus? –
    Aus Balken wird ein Haus!
    Ein Haus für‘s gute Kind,
    Daß es d‘rin Eltern find ‘,
    Die sorgsam es bewahren
    Vor Seel‘ – und Leib‘sgefahren.
    Den Zimmermann das Kind d‘rum liebt,
    Der ihm den Schutz des Hauses giebt.

    If you copy and paste this into Google Translate, you will see that the results won’t sound very good in song. Thus why the American versions were re-written. I like the Emilie Poulsson version best. I think a Schwarz/Fitz duet on Flexi Disc is called for.


  10. hiscarpentry says:

    I want a poster…


  11. Jeff Burks says:

    More audio of songs from Friedrich Fröbels’ Mutter in German

    Now if somebody could find an audio recording of “Der Zimmermann” or “Busy is the Carpenter”…

    Or explain the untapped market for woodworking related coloring books…

    2 more links for fun:
    Finger plays for nursery and kindergarten



  12. Jörg Sommer says:

    The original german version “Der Zimmermann” is written by Friedrich Froebel, the founder of the kindergarden movement. It’s a so called “Spiellied” wich dos NOT men, ist a song but a poem to speak with finger gestures. Froebel published 50 “Spiellieder” in his book “MUTTER- , SPIEL- und KOSELIEDER” in 1844, only 12 of them where transferred in real songs with score by his friend Robert Kohl. Unfortunately “Der Zimmermann” was not one of them …

    Liked by 1 person

  13. SSteve says:

    TIL: Zimmermann means Carpenter.


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