About this blogger:
Veronica Brandt holds a Bachelor Degree in Electrical Engineering. As editor, she has produced fine publications (as well as valuable reprints) dealing with Gregorian chant, hymnody, Latin, and other subjects. These publications are distinguished on account of their tastefulness. She lives in the Blue Mountains near Sydney, Australia, with her husband Peter and six children.
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“Oh, the happy choir director who is hired to start work on a brand new choir, or who walks into his first rehearsal a total stranger to the existing group—what a fortunate man he is! The new choir director who is a former member of the choir, or a member of the congregation, or the nephew of the alto soloist, or a former altar boy, or otherwise well acquainted with the choir, is in for a few headaches.”
— Paul Hume (1956)

A little bit of fun
published 23 May 2015 by Veronica Brandt

EACHING LATIN TO CHILDREN is both exciting and daunting – maybe more daunting because I have not been taught Latin myself for more than a few lessons. It could be a recipe for disaster, but until a better option comes along, I’ll keep learning as much as I can and passing this on.

One morning I settled down with my children to tackle matching the Latin and English in Psalm 53 word for word. We got sidetracked and managed to cobble together a Latin version of Heads and shoulders, knees and toes.

Caput, scapulae, genua, pedes,
  genua, pedes, genua, pedes,
Caput, scapulae, genua, pedes,
  plaudite manibus.

Oculi, nasus, os et aures,
  os et aures, os et aures,
Oculi, nasus, os et aures,
  plaudite manibus.

And if that sounds odd to you, then you probably grew up with the There’s a Tavern in the Town version which seems more prevalent on youtube at least. Here is the tune I grew up with from Play School of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 1 I think it is a little easier than the tune for There’s a Tavern in the Town.

      * *   Download the music as a PDF ready to print and as a recording of my boys singing the song.

Note: this is not for liturgical use!

Though it is interesting to notice how often these words appear in liturgical texts.

At Sunday vespers we read: De torrente in via bibet; propterea exaltabit caput. (Psalms 109:7) He shall drink from the torrent in the way, therefore he shall lift up the head.

Scapula gives us the term scapular to describe a garment worn over the shoulders.

Genua gives us genuflect – literally to bend the knee.

Psalm 24:15 Oculi mei semper ad Dominum, quoniam ipse evellet de laqueo pedes meos. My eyes are ever towards the Lord: for he shall pluck my feet out of the snare.

Sometimes we start prayers with this versicle and response: Domine, labia mea aperies. Et os meum annuntiavit laudem tuam. Lord, thou shalt open my lips. And my mouth shall declare thy praise.

Psalm 113:14 talks about false gods: Aures habent, et non audient; nares habent, et non odorabunt. Ears they have, and they do not hear. Noses they have, and they do not smell.

My Latin isn’t great but sounds like nares is somehow related to nasus – maybe nostrils?

So, there’s your lesson plan – a song with actions, plus digging around in prayer books and Scripture for examples. I’ll have to find a place to add it to kidschant.com.


1   Play School has another connection with church music. The theme song was written by Richard Connolly, who wrote many hymns, including Holy Father, God of Might.