Who can remember sitting on a cold, hard floor every Monday morning? The start of the school week, and with it came the school assembly. Some of us loved them and some of us hated them. I used to love school assemblies – I sang my little heart out and loved the stories the teachers used to tell us to keep us on the straight and narrow. Others I’ve spoken to hated sitting crossed legs, not able to fidget or talk to their friends for fear of being sent to stand in the corner.
Were you a geeky singer or a troublemaker who whispered when the teachers had their backs turned? One thing we do have in common is the songs we sang! These may have varied slightly from school to school and region to region, so let us know if any of these resonate with you.
All Things Bright And Beautiful
Let’s kick things off with this old chestnut. Surely there isn’t a child in the UK who didn’t sing this back in the 80’s? We had to sing it whilst lining up for school dinners which was bad enough and then to make things worse, we had to sing it again on a Monday morning. Not my favourite of assembly songs!
When A Knight Won His Spurs
You’ve got to love a song that mentions giants, dragons and ogres. This was one of my all time favourite songs and still transports me back to my childhood now. It made little sense to me as a kid but I loved the tune and the feel of the words. Was this one of your favourites too?
Lord Of The Dance
This was a regular in our school assemblies and I loved it! My favourite line was ‘It’s hard to dance with the devil on your back.’ I recently watched a group of children sing this in a school and it struck me that they didn’t bat an eyelid at the strong lyrics, “They whipped and they stripped and they hung me on high and they left me there on the cross to die.” Amazing what we sing as children without always thinking about the meaning.
Go Tell It On The Mountain
Another spiritual classic from our youth. Many schools are starting to steer clear of overtly Christian messages now, with the exception of Faith schools. All I know is I loved this song; I loved the catchy, upbeat tune and that we always sang it at Christmas.
Give Me Oil In My Lamp
I challenge anyone not to sing aloud with gusto when this little beauty is played on the piano or guitar. I loved it when children in assemblies mumbled along to the verses and then when it came to the chorus they let rip like they were singing for their lives. Sing hosanna! Yes, Siree.
Morning Has Broken
Now I like Cat Stevens as much as the next person, but even he could not make me like this song. I like to think I was a happy-natured child but whenever I was forced to sing this song in assembly a strange melancholy would come over me and somehow a dreary feeling would enter the school hall. What do you think about this song? Uplifting and wonderful or depressing and bleak?
If I Was A Hammer
A bit of a random number this one, but catchy none the less. It was a number 10 hit for Peter, Paul and Mary in 1962 and kids were still singing it back in the 80’s assemblies and even today.
My Grandfather’s Clock
I always found this song very moving, even as a child. My Granddad had a beautiful Grandfather’s clock which he took great pride in looking after. It was always working perfectly and this song reminds me of him. We had to do the actions of the clock in school assemblies with our arms ticking away.
Asking family and friends which assembly songs they most remember from their youth made me realise that we were all singing off the same hymn sheet so to speak; with a few exceptions. Magic Penny! This is the song people were telling me they remember from the 80’s and I had never heard of it. Of course, I immediately checked it out on the internet and found a folky little song that I would probably have loved as a child but found irritating as an adult. Let us know if this is one that your school used to sing and if you loved it or hated it.
He’s Got The Whole World In His Hands
I’m certain everyone will remember this from their 80’s assemblies. It was part of every teacher’s repertoire of songs. The film, Con Air managed to make an otherwise totally innocent song seem creepy but it’s still a great throwback all the same.
When I Needed A Neighbour
This was always a popular assembly song back in the day and still seems very relevant in today’s climate of social change.
Kumbaya My Lord
Kumbaya, meaning ‘Come by here’ is a song that takes you right back to your childhood. Most kids from the 80’s can remember singing this while fidgeting on the floor and getting pins and needles. A real belter of a song. Tag a friend who you remember sharing school assemblies with and let us know if you loved or hated singing these songs. Have we missed off any of your favourites that we should include next time?