Scarlet Ribbons: Fun Family Activity and Sing-A-Long

Updated on April 24, 2018
MsDora profile image

MsDora, seven-year online writer, shares poetry, creative writing, quotes and reflections on how writing and writers influence our lives.

For the family that enjoys quality time together and desires to include some music in those precious moments, here is an oldie that everyone will like. The easy-to-learn lyrics and rhythm of Scarlet Ribbons are likely to become a family favorite for the adults as well as the children. The song presents various features that made it popular in the 50s and 60s and still make it appealing to contemporary families: parent-child connection, a child’s wish, and an atmosphere of mystery.

Photo Credit: Lynn Greyling
Photo Credit: Lynn Greyling | Source

Fun Family Activity

There are slight lyrical variations in some of the fifty-plus recordings. The words here are written the way The Browns sang them. At the end of the activity, there is a video that allows the family to sing-a-long with them.

Suggestion:

Read through the entire lyrics together, and then re-read each verse below, enjoying the activities based on each verse. One activity leader may be appointed for the entire session or may be assigned to lead by verse. Do whatever creates the most fun!

Full Song

I peeked in to say good-night
When I heard my child in prayer:
“Send dear God, some scarlet ribbons
Scarlet ribbons for my hair."

All the stores were closed and shuttered,
All the streets were dark and bare;
In our town, no scarlet ribbons
Not one ribbon for her hair.

Through the night my heart was aching
Just before the dawn was breaking;

I peeked in and on her bed
In gay profusion lying there:
I saw ribbons, scarlet ribbons
Scarlet ribbons for her hair.

If I live to be a hundred
I will never know from where
Came those lovely scarlet ribbons,
Scarlet ribbons for her hair.

Verse One

I peeked in to say good-night
When I heard my child in prayer:
“Send dear God, some scarlet ribbons
Scarlet ribbons for my hair."

Photo Credit: marciabispo2013
Photo Credit: marciabispo2013 | Source

Let's Have a Conversation:

  • Which parent, father or mother, do you think is more likely to peek in? Why do you think so?
  • What are some reasons that a girl might pray for scarlet hair ribbons?
  • The little girl prayed to God instead of asked the parents. What might be the reasons for being secretive about her wish?
  • What personal item might a boy request?

Verse Two

All the stores were closed and shuttered,
All the streets were dark and bare;
In our town, no scarlet ribbons
Not one ribbon for her hair.

Let's Have a Friendly Competition

Using a media device, each person tries to find a spool of scarlet ribbon in an online store. Set a time limit. The winner is the person who finds the ribbon spool having whatever qualifying aspect (the most quantity, the cheapest price) the leader chooses.

Source

The Bridge

Through the night my heart was aching
Just before the dawn was breaking.

Let's Have Some Confessions

Each one selects and answers one of the two questions.

  • What recent family situation caused you a sleepless night?
  • Why would you share (or not share) with a family member the problem that keeps you awake?

Family activities don't have to be expensive or luxurious to be meaningful. . . The important part is just being together and enjoying each other's company.

— Deanna Sletten, WriteMoms

Verse Three

I peeked in and on her bed
In gay profusion lying there:
I saw ribbons, scarlet ribbons
Scarlet ribbons for her hair.

Let's Do Some Guessing

  • How do you think the ribbons got there? Accept five guesses and vote on the most reasonable guess.
  • In a child's life, what might the ribbon symbolize?
  • Today, the red ribbon is generally used as a symbol for support against HIV/AIDS and other conditions; and red is also the color of love. How would our attitudes to each other be affected, if red always reminded us of love, no matter what else it brings to mind?

Verse Four

If I live to be a hundred
I will never know from where
Came those lovely scarlet ribbons,
Scarlet ribbons for her hair.

Let's Do a Sing-A-Long

There are some things in life we may never figure out: how we made it through a specific struggle, how we started out with not-enough and ended up with more-than-enough, and why life seems so much better in the presence of family. Sometimes instead of trying to think everything through, we can just sing.

According to Greg Smalley, Psy.D., "something indescribable happens when people get together and sing. It's a heart-connection that can't be known or expressed in any other way."

Sing along with The Browns in the video below.

Scarlet Ribbons Trivia

  1. Jack Segal wrote the lyrics in 1949; it took him only 15 minutes.
  2. The tune had been previously written by Evelyn Danzig who invited Segal to hear it.
  3. The first recording was released on October 31, 1949, by Jo Stafford with Vocal Group and Paul Weston and His Orchestra.
  4. More than fifty recordings of the song were made during the 1950s and 60s.
  5. The most successful version was released by The Browns in 1959 and stayed on the Billboard Hot 100 for 14 weeks.
  6. Other notable versions were produced by Harry Belafonte in 1952 and Cliff Richard in 1991 on a Christmas album.

*Extracted from SecondHand Songs and Wikipedia

Questions & Answers

    © 2018 Dora Weithers

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      • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

        Dora Weithers 

        3 months ago from The Caribbean

        Thanks Natalie. This tune just kept popping up in my head. I believe it was asking to be the topic of an article.

      • Natalie Frank profile image

        Natalie Frank 

        3 months ago from Chicago, IL

        What a creative and imaginative hub! I never would have thought of this for an article. Kudos to you!

      • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

        Dora Weithers 

        3 months ago from The Caribbean

        Thanks, Bill. You might even enjoy it more with the grandchildren. The lyrics are new to them, I'm sure.

      • lifegate profile image

        William Kovacic 

        3 months ago from Pleasant Gap, PA

        Sounds like fun, Dora. The family's grown, so I might have to pass it on for the grandchildren. Thnks for the idea.

      • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

        Dora Weithers 

        3 months ago from The Caribbean

        Thanks, Leland. I appreciate your kind thoughts about what I did with the song. It really makes a good conversation piece for the family.

      • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

        Dora Weithers 

        3 months ago from The Caribbean

        Thanks, Marlene. This song was in my head for a few weeks before I wrote abut it. It stays with you.

      • Leland Johnson profile image

        Leland Johnson 

        3 months ago from Midland MI

        MsDora- I really liked this article. I enjoy and appreciate the break down of a song to learn the meaning behind each verse. The songs "Amazing Grace" and "How Great Thou Art" are great ones for that type of exercise. You added a unique twist by using the break downs to be conversation starters for families. Love it. Great idea.

      • MarleneB profile image

        Marlene Bertrand 

        3 months ago from USA

        I absolutely enjoyed reading this article. I would really enjoy the family activities that go along with the lyrics. The video is a beautiful accompaniment. Such a lovely song.

      • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

        Dora Weithers 

        3 months ago from The Caribbean

        Thanks, Devika. Family time is beautiful!

      • DDE profile image

        Devika Primić 

        3 months ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

        Beautiful!

      • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

        Dora Weithers 

        3 months ago from The Caribbean

        Frank, that's the beauty of good lyrics and tunes. They last forever. Thanks.

      • Frank Atanacio profile image

        Frank Atanacio 

        3 months ago from Shelton

        what a fun and inviting sing along song, written in 1949, yet it rings so modern.. wonderfully done MsDora..:) bravo

      • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

        Dora Weithers 

        3 months ago from The Caribbean

        Thank you, Chitrangada. Blessings to you and your family and may you enjoy many good times together.

      • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

        Chitrangada Sharan 

        3 months ago from New Delhi, India

        What a lovely song and lyrics! It would be to wonderful to sing along with family and the activities also sound very interesting. Family moments are so precious and enjoyable.

        An excellent idea/ article to bring the family together.

        Thanks for sharing!

      • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

        Dora Weithers 

        3 months ago from The Caribbean

        Thanks, Manatita. In a family setting, you would be required to participate in the discussion. Still glad that you read the exercises

      • manatita44 profile image

        manatita44 

        3 months ago from london

        A cute and charming poem and some interesting and challenging exercises. I don't know which parent would peek in, it would depend on the love at home, I suppose. Girls secret wishes? Not my forte. Lol.

        Nice poem. I'm restricted in the YMCA Computer room. Sorry I can't play the music. Have a great day.

      • CaribTales profile image

        Dora Weithers 

        3 months ago from The Caribbean

        Thanks, Jackie. What a blessing to have a singing mom! True, I could listen to this song several times a day.

      • CaribTales profile image

        Dora Weithers 

        3 months ago from The Caribbean

        Sean, you make such kind and sweet remarks! So I'm your sister. Thank you.

      • Jackie Lynnley profile image

        Jackie Lynnley 

        3 months ago from The Beautiful South

        Oh, I remember this beautiful song from childhood, Dora! My mother too would sing it out of the blue through my childhood which I would so love to hear. It always stopped me in whatever I was doing and I hated to hear it end.

        This would be a great activity for parents to share with their children. God bless you Dora for so many shares of heavenly ideas!

      • Sean Dragon profile image

        Ioannis Arvanitis 

        4 months ago from Greece, Almyros

        Dear Sister, Dora, this beautiful Hub made me think: Wouldn't be nice to be Sister Dora a member of my family? I have four sons who would love to call you, auntie! Ha. Ha.

        God bless you dear Sister for the joy you give!

        Sean

      • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

        Dora Weithers 

        4 months ago from The Caribbean

        Thanks, Flourish. I think that the topic of red ribbons is so fitting for a family discussion. So many positive ways the love can flow.

      • FlourishAnyway profile image

        FlourishAnyway 

        4 months ago from USA

        I like any activity that bonds family members and deepens their relationships through sharing. Your observation about red ribbons reminding us of love is beautiful.

      • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

        Dora Weithers 

        4 months ago from The Caribbean

        Thanks, Linda. The lyrics do lend themselves to family activity. Glad you agree!

      • AliciaC profile image

        Linda Crampton 

        4 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

        This sounds like an interesting and enjoyable activity for a family. I've heard of the song, but I've never seen the lyrics before. I like the idea of using them to bring a family together very much.

      • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

        Dora Weithers 

        4 months ago from The Caribbean

        Thanks Eric. I can tell that there are lots of fun activity in your family. Kudos to those who teach the oldies to the youngsters.

      • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

        Dora Weithers 

        4 months ago from The Caribbean

        Thanks, Bill. I venture to think that singing is one of the most joyful things a family can do together.

      • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

        Dora Weithers 

        4 months ago from The Caribbean

        Thanks, Mary. This song make me reminisce too, about my late aunt who is the only person I ever heard singing it. I learned it from her.

      • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

        Dora Weithers 

        4 months ago from The Caribbean

        Thanks, Annie. I never thought of this as a church song, but I'm sure the congregation sings it lustily. It is beautiful and I appreciate your thoughtful input.

      • Ericdierker profile image

        Eric Dierker 

        4 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

        So cool. I am so glad that in my family of origin and my wonderful family now that old favorites are still sung. We like to break them up into High Lonesome harmony.

        It was so fun to hear my elder children teaching my youngest such favorites like "Sweet Violets" and a version of "Slewfoot Sue". And they are great to hang out and vote for favorite lines and such.

        Thanks for getting me back in touch here.

      • billybuc profile image

        Bill Holland 

        4 months ago from Olympia, WA

        Anything that brings a family together is a good thing,and this fun activity is indeed a good thing. :)

      • aesta1 profile image

        Mary Norton 

        4 months ago from Ontario, Canada

        What a lovely song. It makes me miss our family. I know the significance of yellow and pink ribbons but not the red ones.

      • Healthyannie profile image

        Annie Messeri 

        4 months ago from Spain

        This is a lovely song. We often sing it in our church, and if you reflect on the song, it really does have a deeper meaning. So do ribbons, we have so many ribbons to show support for different charities and causes these days. Maybe we should reflect on what all of those ribbons really mean and what they represent. How about tying a red ribbon for important events in your life, or a ribbon for someone who has passed, and pinning it on a special board in your church. I think that would be nice. Light a candle below the board, and remember them as you walk past.

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