The biggest hit from the musical Hair, this powerful song offers us hope still today. By the way, my college girlfriend and I saw the Broadway production back in 1969. When the cast invited any interested audience members to dance the finale with them on stage, up we went. So, yes,…

Instrument of Peace

Patterned after the inspirational version sung by the Canadian Tenors, this song is purely beautiful. One might think of it as being similar to “Let There Be Peace on Earth” but with more specifics included. Such lyrics as “Where there is darkness, let me bring light” and “Where there Is…

You Walk with Me

This beautiful tempo ballad comes from the Broadway musical version of The Full Monty. At first hearing, I assumed it was a religious piece. While “You Walk with Me” certainly can be sung that way, in the musical it is sung by two people who love each other. Do yourself…

I Believe in You

A beautiful, haunting piece, “I Believe in You” encourages a friend who is down and out to believe in herself or himself. The lyrics are mostly in English, partly in French. The format is solo with four-part background, with the final chord splitting into seven parts. Do check this wonderful…

We Are a Gentle, Loving People

Singer and lesbian activist Holly Near wrote this song after the 1978 assassination of Harvey Milk. Milk had been the first openly gay person elected to high office in California. There are many verses to this song, and you can make up your own easily enough. This powerful song is…


The origins of “Taps” date back to American Civil War. This bugle call began as a lights-out signal to soldiers at night but now is played at military funerals and memorials. Though not a cheery song, it can be very powerfully sung when the occasion calls for it.

Silent Zombie Night

I am not sure whose idea this was, but putting “Silent Night” into minor mode was way interesting. Want to scramble (but not to eat!) your audiences’ brains? This tune will do it. . . .

Old Shep

This wonderfully maudlin tale of a boy and his dog was written by Red Foley and Arthur Willis. The story was based on a German Shepherd, Hoover, a dog Foley owned as a child. Hoover died due to an unfortunate incident with a neighbor. Elvis Presley really made the lyric…

I Will Never Pass This Way Again

Truer words were never spoken, eh? Even when times are tough—as they are right now, in July of 2020—we need to do what good we can every day. This song was arranged for Harmony Inc. queen quartet Aged to Perfection, but there is a men’s version as well.

We Rise Again

This song of resilience and hope was composed by Leon Dubinsky, a songwriter from Sydney, Nova Scotia, for a 1984 stage musical titled The Rise and Follies of Cape Breton. The Rankin Family’s 1993 rendition popularized the song across Canada. The message of this song is certainly fitting for the…

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Good Book Song, The

This offbeat tune comes from the film A Mighty Wind. (Hey, that would not be a bad quartet name!) You have never heard the stories of Noah and the Ark, and David and Goliath told like this. Requires a guitar and string bass. This arrangement is no longer exclusive to…

River of Song

This lovely song was written by Newfoundland folk singer Shirley Montague. Newfound Sound, the Harmony Inc. chorus from St. John’s, commissioned the piece in honor of their late member Elaine Sparkes. Though the piece is very specific to Elaine’s life, it probably could be rewritten to honor another barbershopper.

Precious Lord, Take My Hand

The lyrics to this timeless hymn were written by the grieving Rev. Thomas A. Dorsey after the death of his wife and infant son in childbirth. Dorsey based the tune heavily on the 1844 hymn “Maitland,” composed by George N. Allen.  This moving piece is available in men’s, women’s and mixed…

Going Home

A timeless song that has been redone to be contestable, this piece is purely wonderful. Do check out this gentle, deep journey.

Amazing Grace

This may be the best song ever written, period. Couldn’t all of us fallible mortals use a little grace?

Greatest Gift of All, The

Written and performed by John Jarvis, this lovely song stresses two types of love. One is for one’s spouse, while the other is even greater: “Peace on Earth, goodwill to men.” At this time the arrangement is exclusive to Nova Quattro, but your chance will come one of these days.

You Must Come In at the Bottom

The Good Lord called on this man to become a bass singer. Though the fellow lacked faith, God’s will—and sense of humor—prevailed. Feature your stud bass with this clever tune.

When the River Meets the Sea

What a beautiful song this is. A metaphor for the afterlife, the piece can be a great comfort at funeral and at other times as well.

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When There’s Love at Home

A beautiful, heartfelt song, this is a pure joy to sing and listen to. Power Play debuted it, and it has since become a barbershop staple.

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Here is Brahms Lullaby, in German. It could be translated into English, of course.

With Two Wings

Marvelously energetic 8-parter about men and women working together, as sung by Friends.

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Would Jesus Wear a Rolex

TV evangelists are pointedly spotlighted in this delightful tune. No longer exclusive to Buckeye Blend.

Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star

Yes, really. This chart is actually fairly fancy, with various styles of harmonization being used. A couple of extra verses have been added to honor ill children, so this song is just right for certain occasions.

Virgin Mary (Had a Baby Boy)

There is plenty of rhythmic interest in this Christmas tune. It somehow manages to be both calm and lively at the same time—not to mention lots of fun.

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This Train/When the Saints Go Marching In

A stirring medley about moving on to the Promised Land, this piece was commissioned by the Great Northern Union, who performed it with Four Voices and the Happiness Emporium. It normally requires a chorus and two quartets, though it also can be sung in eight rather than 12 parts.

Throne of Grace

Written by barbershopper Gary Scalise, this song expresses religious humility.

They Are Gone

This tribute to the Challenger astronauts is clearly on the somber side.

Tell My Father

From the musical Civil War, this song of a dying young soldier is most powerful, indeed. It makes a fine contest companion to the Civil War Medley of rousing uptunes. Both Power Play and The Alliance sang it in international competition.

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Sound Celebration

I wrote and arranged this energetic song honoring music and other sounds of life around us. The men’s version of this arrangement is published by the BHS. There is now an SATB version for YMIH/YWIH singers, as well one for women’s voices.

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Something Inside So Strong

Arranged to help the Dutch Association of Barbershop Singers (DABS) celebrate its 20th anniversary, this song is as strong as it gets. It has been used for protest and inspiration by a wide variety of oppressed groups, though anyone can relate to its powerful, uplifting message. A mixed version is…

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As sung by The New Tradition, Nightlife, Ringmasters, Weekend Edition and many other groups, this piece is really powerful. You could close your shows with it or sing it in just about any other position. This arrangement is my all-time favorite. What’s more, it is contestable!

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Smell the Flowers

This country hit tells us to enjoy life right now. Hey, when else is there?

Sing It A Cappella

A doo-wop gospel tune a la Glad, this song really fits us barbershoppers. We sure do love to sing it a cappella, eh?


Brothers and Sisters, are you leading a life of sin and corruption? If so, this energetic, tongue-in-cheek song will set you on the righteous path. Okay, so it did not quite do the trick for the comedy quartet Up All Night, but it almost always works. Let me hear an…

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