Anthology of Humanist Songs
(with links to the tunes)

While religion may lack credibility, it does have an enviable musical tradition that humanism lacks. There appears to be rather a shortage of  humanist song books, or atheist songs, especially as an on-line resource. It is hoped here to develop an accessible list of songs suitable for humanist occasions, including secular weddings and funerals, which may be used as an alternative to religious songs. While browsing the songs, the tune may be played at the same time. The songs are selected with the suitability for group singing in mind, so well known tunes are preferred. Hopefully it may assist the non-religious to reclaim the enjoyment of singing.

The collection consists firstly of hymns and traditional songs where words have been adapted to humanist themes. In many cases this has been done in a rather simple way by replacing words like "god", "lord" etc. with the word "truth" - humanists can celebrate the word "truth" in a way religionists may not, because the truth is that there is no evidence to support any supernatural claim made by any religion. Other handy words for humanist substitution are words like love, knowledge, nature, mother nature, natural world, secular faith, humanity, honesty, respect, ethical, rational, imagination, peace, compassion, justice etc.

Also included are some other traditional or popular humanistic non-religious songs, with where possible, the original words intact.  It is hoped that others may inspired to make suggestions and additional contributions for this site. Please email any contribution or suggestion and I will add it to this page with acknowledgement. This may include new songs,  new verses or alternative versions and amendments to songs already listed. Perhaps the best way create a humanist song is to think of some existing tune, folk song or hymn, look up the words and adapt them. That way the same rhyme scheme and rhythm and mood of the song can best be preserved. There is no copyright on any of the original traditional tunes, so as well as poetic creativity, plagiaristic adaptation is a virtue!

To play any midi file on the internet your PC first makes a local copy. The midi files used here are copies of such copies. Also now posted where available are musical scores playable by MuseScore. This software is free to download and install. See MuseScore.org. The words posted here however may not be reproduced for sale or profit without permission. (C) Copyright. 2002-2011  John L Perkins.
 
Note the Atheist Choir songs have now moved to the Atheist Songs page.
 

CONTENTS
Adapded Hymns Other Adapted Songs Original Songs
All things bright and beautiful An Atheist  Interationale  Die Gedanken Sind Frei
All people that on earth do dwell We have a dream of unity  Imagine
Amazing truth Our sisters lie over the ocean  The more we are together
And did that truth in ancient time  John Brown's body
Joy to the world    Mairi's Wedding
Joyful, joyful, we are joyful    There is a tavern in the town
Onward Christian murderers    
Links    

To hear the tune click on the links to the midi file. Hint: In some browsers, right click on the link and open it in a new window so you can see the words an hear the tune at the same time.

Hymns adapted to humanist themes
(original words and midis from http://www.cyberhymnal.org)

ALL THINGS BRIGHT AND BEAUTIFUL
(Tune: itself) Words: Royston Wilding.

All things bright and beautiful, all creatures great and small,
All things live and natural, evolution made them all.

Each little flower that opens, each little bird that sings,
DNA made their glowing colours, genes made their tiny wings.

The purple headed mountains, the river running by,
Nothing to do with Jesus, its all a bloody lie.

If God made all the universe, he made the bad stuff too,
All earthquakes, plagues and famines, this bully sends to you.

Religion is a nasty scourge, its teachings are untrue,
When a preacher comes around, tell him to go shoot through.

Now we have eyes to see them, and lips that we might tell
How stupid is religion, send all of them to hell.

All things bright and beautiful, all creatures great and small,
All things live and natural, evolution made them all.

ALL PEOPLE THAT ON EARTH DO DWELL
Tune: itself

All people that on earth do dwell, sing to the world cheerful voice.
A message good we want to tell; it is with with hope we may rejoice.

For lords and gods we have no need; unaided nature did us make;
With nature's help ourselves we feed, and by ourselves our own minds make.

In natures truth we give our praise; approach with joy all lands unto;
Praise and respect nature always, for it is proper so to do.

For all our knowledge gained is good; our method is forever sure;
By truth at all times firmly stood, and shall from age to age endure.

AMAZING TRUTH
Tune: itself
Amazing truth! How sweet the sound, that saved a dude like me!
I once was lost, but now am found; was blind, but now I see.

'Twas faith that taught my heart to fear, and truth my fears relieved;
How precious did that truth appear, the hour I first perceived.

Through many dangers, toils and snares, I have already come;
'Tis truth hath brought me safe thus far, and truth will lead me home.

We have been here for countless years, bright shining as the sun,
We've  no less days to sing such praise, than when we'd first begun.
 

AND DID THAT TRUTH IN ANCIENT TIME
And did those feet in ancient time

When did real truth in ancient time, walk upon lands of mountains green?
When was the voice of reasoned thought, on our land's pleasant pastures seen?
When did the vision grand and high, shine forth upon our clouded hills?
And when was freedom builded here, among those fearful rumour mills?

Discard those superstitions old! Forsake those myths of ancient times!
Throw out that faith! Free thought unfold! Forget those old delusions dire!
I will not cease from mental fight, Nor shall my pen sleep in my hand,
Till we have built a justice clear, in these our green and precious lands.

JOY TO THE WORLD
Tune: itself
Joy to the world, the truth has come, let earth receive its peace;
Let every heart give welcome, let every heart give welcome,
And earth and nature sing, and earth and nature sing,
And earth, and earth, and nature sing.

Joy to the world, of peace and love, let kindness us employ;
With faith in knowledge right and true,  with faith in knowledge right and true,
Repeat the sounding joy, repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat, repeat, the sounding joy.

No more let dark conflicts grow, nor baseless fears abound;
Let trust and honesty now flow, let trust and honesty now flow
Far as the way is found, far as the way is found,
Far as, far as, the way is found.

In humanity we place our trust, and with all the nations prove
In faith and hope and love we trust, in faith and hope and love we trust,
And greatest of these is love, and greatest of these is love,
And greatest, greatest of these is love.

JOYFUL, JOYFUL, WE ARE JOYFUL
Tune: Joyful, joyful, we adore Thee
Joyful, joyful, we are joyful, we have truth in nature found;
Hearts unfold like flowers before us, opening to the sun above.
Melting clouds of ill and sadness; driving the dark of doubt away;
Knowledge is our source of gladness, fills us with the light of day!

All natures works with joy surround us, earth and heaven's distant rays,
Stars and planets arch above us, the sun, the centre of our days.
Field and forest, vale and mountain, flowery meadow, flashing seas,
Singing bird and flowing fountain call us to rejoice in peace.

May we be giving and forgiving, ever honest with respect,
Wellspring of the joy of living, ocean depth of happy rest.
Father, brother, sister, mother, live in love and peace in time;
Teach us how to love each other, lift us to our joy's desire.

Friends we join the happy chorus, which the morning stars began;
Natures love is shining on us, brother love binds man to man.
Ever singing, march we onward, victors in the midst of strife,
Joyful music leads us sun ward in the triumph song of life.

ONWARD CHRISTIAN MURDERERS
Tune: Onward Christian Soldiers
Words: Royston Wilding. Verses: 1 Intro,  2 Crusades, 3 Conquistadores 4 Hitler

Onward, Christian soldiers, marching off to war,
With the cross of Jesus, going on before
‘gainst Jew and homo-sexual, atheist and black
With bib-les and our ri-fles, we’re ready to attack

Chorus
   Onward, Christian murderers
   Marching off to war,
   Cru-sad-er with Nazi,
   and Con-quis-tador.

With Good King John and legions, of the bloody Pope,(and little boys, ho ho ho )
Smite Slavs Jews Greek Christians, hang Mongols with a rope
Pillage, rape and plunder, this is God’s holy will (the Holy Crusades)
The noble and the holy thing is torture, rape and kill

Now on to the Americas, with Conquistadores, (and Columbus)
Aztecs Incas Indians, kill them by the hoards (in Jesus’ holy name)
Take their gold and silver, enslaver them till they’re sick (working for god)
Then in your divine mercy, change them to Catholic (to save their souls)

Chorus 3
Now back again to Europe, with Hitler and the Pope, (holy alliance!)
Take the Jews to Auschwitz, turn them into soap, (in accordance with the bible)
Glory, laud, and honour unto Christ the King
This thro' countless ages, men and angels sing. (hallelujah brothers / sisters)
 

Traditional songs,  atheist versions
 

AN ATHEIST INTERNATIONALE
To the tune of The Internationale (Eugene Pottier, Paris 1871, music Pierre Degeyter (1888))
MuseScore file: AtheistInternationale_FMaj_Full.mscz

Arise you victims of delusion, arise you people of the earth
Discard unfounded superstition, there's a better world in birth
For reason in revolt now thunders, freethinkers to the fore
Now in the dawning age of reason, ancient faith we need no more.

  Chorus:
  Now people, let us rally, its a great fight that we face
  We must discard religion, to save the human race.
  Now people, let us rally, its a great fight that we face
  We must discard religion, to save the human race.

Our destiny is our own making, no gods will save us from our fate
A new age of reason is now dawning, the world it will illuminate
Away with fear and superstition, the truth will set you free
In a world with honesty and freedom, peace and justice there will be.

Away with synagogue and steeple, Mohammed and his warrior band
We know there are no chosen people, we know there is no promised land
So join together in our chorus, Atheists be proud
Although believers may deplore us, Our voice is clear and loud

WE HAVE A DREAM
To the tune of The Red Flag (Tannenbaum / Oh Xmas Tree). (NB: Red Flag version has additional verse before chorus.)
MuseScore file: WeHaveADream_DMaj_2.mscz

With knowlege we have overcome, the darkest fears that plagued us long
Neither heaven above nor hell below, science tells us all we know.

  Chorus:
  So let us set our standard high, on facts and reason, we'll rely
  Though the followers of faith may sneer, we stand as one and have no fear.

When faith conspires to decieve, why don't we think not just believe?
With honesty and justice sure, we can build peace that will endure

  Chorus:

We have a dream of unity, of all the world as family
When religious divides are in the past, we can have world-wide peace at last.

  Chorus:

OUR SISTERS LIE OVER THE OCEAN
To the tune of My Bonnie lies over the Ocean:

Our sisters lie over the ocean, our brothers lie over the sea
We're all on this planet together, we are all humanity.

  Chorus:
  Freedom, justice, and peace in the world there should be, should be
  Freedom, justice, and peace in the world there will be.

There is no excuse for racism, no need for such prejudice here
All people and races are equal, they all have their voices to hear

  Chorus:

We do not believe in religion, we do not our origin fear
Its wrong to dismiss evolution, the truth comes from evidence clear.

  Chorus:
 

Traditional & popular songs with humanist themes
(original words)

DIE GEDANKEN SIND FREI -  from the German folk song
Humanist anthem sung at meetings of the International Humanist and Ethical Union
Tune
Die Gedanken sind frei, my thoughts freely flower,
Die Gedanken sind frei, my thoughts give me power.
No scholar can map them, no hunter can trap them,
No one can deny: Die Gedanken sind frei!

I think as I please, and this gives me pleasure,
My conscience decrees this right I must treasure;
My thoughts will not cater to duke or dictator,
No one can deny: Die Gedanken sind frei!

And if tyrants take me, and throw me in prison,
My thoughts will burst free like blossoms in season.
Foundations will crumble, the structure will tumble,
And freely I will cry: Die Gedanken sind frei!

Neither trouble nor pain, will ever touch me again,
No good comes of fretting, my hope's in forgetting.
Within myself still, I can think as I will,
But I laugh, do not cry: Die Gedanken sind frei!
 

IMAGINE -  John Lennon
Deleted due to copyright issues.

THE MORE WE ARE TOGETHER
Ach du Lieber Augustin (origin Vienna 1768)
The more we get together, together, together,
The more we get together, together, together,
The happier we'll be;
For your friends are my friends
And my friends are your friends,
The more we get together,
The happier we'll be.

JOHN BROWN'S BODY
from the pre-Civil War anti-slavery skirmish

John Brown's body lies a-mold'ring in the grave
John Brown's body lies a-mold'ring in the grave
John Brown's body lies a-mold'ring in the grave
His truth goes marching on

Glory, Glory! Hallelujah!
Glory, Glory! Hallelujah!
Glory, Glory! Hallelujah!
His truth is marching on

He captured Harper's Ferry with his nineteen men so true
He frightened old Virginia till she trembled  through and through
They hung him for a traitor, themselves the traitor crew
His truth is marching on

John Brown died that the slave might be free,
John Brown died that the slave might be free,
John Brown died that the slave might be free,
But his truth is marching on!

The stars at night above us now are looking kindly down
The stars at night above us now are looking kindly down
The stars at night above us now are looking kindly down
On the grave of old John Brown
 

MAIRI'S WEDDING
Tune

Over hillways up and down
Myrtle green and bracken brown,
Past the sheilings through the town
All for sake of Mairi.

Chorus:
Step we gaily, on we go
Heel for heel and toe for toe,
Arm in arm and row on row
All for Mairi's wedding.

Red her cheeks as rowans are
Bright her eyes as any star,
Fairest o' them all by far
Is our darlin' Mairi.
Chorus:

Plenty herring, plenty meal
Plenty peat to fill her creel,
Plenty bonny bairns as weel
That's the toast for Mairi.
Chorus:
 

THERE IS A TAVERN IN THE TOWN
Tune
There is a tavern in the town, in the town,
And there my dear love sits him down, sits him down,
And drinks his wine 'mid laughter free,
And never, never thinks of me.

 Chorus:
Fare thee well, for I must leave thee,
Do not let the parting grieve thee,
And remember that the best of friends must part, must part
Adieu, adieu, kind friends adieu, adieu, adieu,
I can no longer stay with you, stay with you,
I'll hang my harp on a weeping willow tree,
And may the world go well with thee.

He left me for a damsel dark, damsel dark,
Each Friday night they used to spark, used to spark,
And now my love once true to me,
Takes that dark damsel on his knee.
Chorus:

Oh! dig my grave both wide and deep, wide and deep,
Put tombstones at my head and feet, head and feet,
And on my breast carve a turtle dove,
To signify I died of love.
Chorus:

Other sites with midi-file links

An on-line resource similar to this one is The Humanist Hymnal

A great resource for folk songs is Leader in Leider, where you can search by song or lyrics.

Contribited works from Ruth Anthony-Gardener
 

Work in progress
I have picked out these hymns with nice tunes but I haven't fixed up the words yet.

Crown Him with many crowns
Crown Him with many crowns
Crown Him with many crowns, the Lamb upon His throne.
Hark! How the heavenly anthem drowns all music but its own.
Awake, my soul, and sing of Him who died for thee,
And hail Him as thy matchless King through all eternity.

Crown Him with many crowns, the Lamb upon His throne.
Hark! How the heavenly anthem drowns all music but its own.
Awake, my soul, and sing of Him who died for thee,
And hail Him as thy matchless King through all eternity.

Crown Him the virgin’s Son, the God incarnate born,
Whose arm those crimson trophies won which now His brow adorn;
Fruit of the mystic rose, as of that rose the stem;
The root whence mercy ever flows, the Babe of Bethlehem.

Crown Him the Son of God, before the worlds began,
And ye who tread where He hath trod, crown Him the Son of Man;
Who every grief hath known that wrings the human breast,
And takes and bears them for His own, that all in Him may rest.

Crown Him the Lord of life, who triumphed over the grave,
And rose victorious in the strife for those He came to save.
His glories now we sing, Who died, and rose on high,
Who died eternal life to bring, and lives that death may die.

Crown Him the Lord of peace, Whose power a scepter sways
From pole to pole, that wars may cease, and all be prayer and praise.
His reign shall know no end, and round His pierc?d feet
Fair flowers of paradise extend their fragrance ever sweet.

Crown Him the Lord of love, behold His hands and side,
Those wounds, yet visible above, in beauty glorified.
No angel in the sky can fully bear that sight,
But downward bends his burning eye at mysteries so bright.

Crown Him the Lord of Heaven, enthroned in worlds above,
Crown Him the King to Whom is given the wondrous name of Love.
Crown Him with many crowns, as thrones before Him fall;
Crown Him, ye kings, with many crowns, for He is King of all.

Crown Him the Lord of lords, who over all doth reign,
Who once on earth, the incarnate Word, for ransomed sinners slain,
Now lives in realms of light, where saints with angels sing
Their songs before Him day and night, their God, Redeemer, King.

Crown Him the Lord of years, the Potentate of time,
Creator of the rolling spheres, ineffably sublime.
All hail, Redeemer, hail! For Thou has died for me;
Thy praise and glory shall not fail throughout eternity.
 
 

What a Friend we have in Jesus
What a Friend we have in Jesus
What a Friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer!
O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer.

Have we trials and temptations? Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged; take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness; take it to the Lord in prayer.

Are we weak and heavy laden, cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Savior, still our refuge, take it to the Lord in prayer.
Do your friends despise, forsake you? Take it to the Lord in prayer!
In His arms He’ll take and shield you; you will find a solace there.

Blessed Savior, Thou hast promised Thou wilt all our burdens bear
May we ever, Lord, be bringing all to Thee in earnest prayer.
Soon in glory bright unclouded there will be no need for prayer
Rapture, praise and endless worship will be our sweet portion there.
 

Stand up, stand up for Jesus,
Stand up, stand up for Jesus,
Stand up, stand up for Jesus, ye soldiers of the cross;
Lift high His royal banner, it must not suffer loss.
From victory unto victory His army shall He lead,
Till every foe is vanquished, and Christ is Lord indeed.

Stand up, stand up for Jesus, the solemn watchword hear;
If while ye sleep He suffers, away with shame and fear;
Where’er ye meet with evil, within you or without,
Charge for the God of battles, and put the foe to rout.

Stand up, stand up for Jesus, the trumpet call obey;
Forth to the mighty conflict, in this His glorious day.
Ye that are brave now serve Him against unnumbered foes;
Let courage rise with danger, and strength to strength oppose.

Stand up, stand up for Jesus, stand in His strength alone;
The arm of flesh will fail you, ye dare not trust your own.
Put on the Gospel armor, each piece put on with prayer;
Where duty calls or danger, be never wanting there.

Stand up, stand up for Jesus, each soldier to his post,
Close up the broken column, and shout through all the host:
Make good the loss so heavy, in those that still remain,
And prove to all around you that death itself is gain.

Stand up, stand up for Jesus, the strife will not be long;
This day the noise of battle, the next the victor’s song.
To those who vanquish evil a crown of life shall be;
They with the King of Glory shall reign eternally.

Praise, my soul, the King of heaven;
Praise, my soul, the King of heaven;
Praise, my soul, the King of heaven;
To His feet thy tribute bring.
Ransomed, healed, restored, forgiven,
Evermore His praises sing:
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Praise the everlasting King.

Praise Him for His grace and favor
To our fathers in distress.
Praise Him still the same as ever,
Slow to chide, and swift to bless.
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Glorious in His faithfulness.

Fatherlike He tends and spares us;
Well our feeble frame He knows.
In His hands He gently bears us,
Rescues us from all our foes.
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Widely yet His mercy flows.

Frail as summer’s flower we flourish,
Blows the wind and it is gone;
But while mortals rise and perish
Our God lives unchanging on,
Praise Him, Praise Him, Hallelujah
Praise the High Eternal One!

Angels, help us to adore Him;
Ye behold Him face to face;
Sun and moon, bow down before Him,
Dwellers all in time and space.
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Praise with us the God of grace.
 
 

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