Have You Seen the Ghost of John, despite its strange lyrics, is perhaps the most beautiful short singing round in the world. Your voice students will love this free vocal sheet music! I've added an additional sheet, with lettered notes, to assist singers whose voices are better than their note-reading... Also, I added a version in the key of Em, for easy playing by beginning fiddlers and violinists.
The main technical difficulty in singing this song is the end of line 2, with the quick-moving eighth notes and no chance to take a breath. Although it turns it into a very long phrase, I encourage my singers to sing all of lines 2 & 3 in one breath. This way, the eighth notes at the end of line 2 sound smooth and flowing. However, then it takes a lot of control to get up to the top notes in line 3! But this trains singers to think and plan their breathing.
Below is the same song but in Em. I wrote this for my violin players, because Em is such a lovely (& easy!) key for beginners, and rounds are a fun way to begin with harmony:
Here is the easy-to-read version of this fun Halloween round:
The chord symbols in the D minor arrangements are only suggestions -- when you have just one singer rehearsing the song, it can be nice to have a bit of harmony in the background to help maintain pitch. I use very simple open chords -- just 2 notes.
One Christmas, I wanted a group of singers to sing this beautiful round for the recital, but I felt the words would seem frivolous in that particular setting. I decided to substitute Latin words with which many people are already familiar, from Adeste Fideles (O Come, All Ye Faithful): "Venite adoremus, Dominum." (This means "Come let us adore the Lord.")
I'll admit this was a bit of a stretch. The stresses on the Latin syllables don't work out the same in Ghost of John as they do in Adeste Fideles, and I had to shift a few notes around. Instead of "ve-NI-te a-do-RE-mus," my version goes "VE-ni-TE a-DO-re-MUS." I'm hoping Thomas Aquinas, medieval scholar, won't roll over in his grave!
But I'll join hands with Peter Needham, who translated "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" into Latin (and had to invent some new words in the process). It's fun to sing in other languages!
Have You Seen the Ghost of John could just be the loveliest vocal round in the world...if it isn't, I want to hear the singing rounds that beat it out! The words are silly but fun; of course, it's a Halloween round.
Do you have a funny story about this music, or does it remind you of something you'd like to share with other readers? Do you have a question? I'd love to hear it!
Please note that all comments are moderated, and will not appear until I have approved them. Also, IF YOU ARE ASKING FOR MUSIC THAT IS NOT IN THE PUBLIC DOMAIN, YOUR REQUEST WILL BE IGNORED. That's pretty much any music written in the last 75 years...
Click below to see contributions from other visitors to this page...
Ghost of John Church Lyrics
I taught this to my daughters so we could all sing it in a 4-pt. round. It's so beautiful but I didn't care for the words. I turned it into a worship song: …
We sing this in choir class to warm up our voices at Halloween time. We sometimes try to sing it in harmony with eight different voice parts. I really …
Different Lyrics for Ghost of John tune
A prettier set of lyrics perhaps for those who are squeamish! Milk white snowdrops grow 'round here, Lovely bluebells and scarlet pimpernel. Wild …