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First snow of the year

Publisher: LAH Publications

Catalogue Number: LAH 60

Year: 2019

For: SATB with Piano

Duration: 4:30

“First snow of the year” was commissioned by Kokopelli Choirs, Edmonton, AB, for their December 2019 concert, “Wintersong.”

Canadian musician Hawksley Workman is one of my favourite performers, and his album Almost a full moon is always on heavy rotation as soon as the first snow falls. I have many treasured memories of special times and dear friends associated with this album, and song “First snow of the year” starts playing itself automatically each year when I see those first few flakes in the air or wake up to find the world covered in white. And so, when I was asked to write or arrange something to close the Kokopelli Choirs Wintersong concert, I thought this would be a fantastically fun song to arrange for choir in a mash-up style with some other Christmas carols!

The arrangement opens with a quote from Sleigh-Ride over which the choir sings a building chord on the word “snow” that I hope performers and audience members will recognize from the movie White Christmas.

Workman’s song is the main feature of this arrangement, but several snow-inspired Christmas carols figure prominently, the most prominent being Sleigh-Ride, It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, and The Christmas Waltz.  I’ve also taken the liberty of “updating” a few of the traditional lyrics, so that both “Katy and Ben” can enjoy “hop-along boots and a pistol that shoots” and “Scott and Jen” might want a “doll than can talk” not to mention that perhaps neither “Mom and Dad” nor “Mom and Mom” nor “Dad and Dad” “can hardly wait for school to start again.” I’ve also mixed together some of Workman’s lyrics into Baby it’s cold outside to put a new spin on this controversial Christmas song…in this version, the same singers sing: “I really can’t stay, and it’s prob’ly just as well….but baby, it’s cold outside.” I absolutely encourage performers to highlight these moments and any others with some actions if they so choose – have all the fun!

I’ve tried to keep this arrangement feeling familiar to anyone who knows Workman’s album, and have endeavoured to capture the piano playing of Workman’s incredible keyboardist, Mr. Lonely (Todd Lumley) in the piano accompaniment. I really encourage all performers to have a listen to Hawksley Workman’s recording of First snow of the year (or do yourself a favour and listen to the whole Almost a full moon album!) to get a sense of the style and of the piano playing. Performers may want to add some sleigh-bells or other percussion…go for it! Above all else, have a lot of fun with this arrangement!!

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Watch a video of the premiere:

Performed by: Kokopelli, Òran, ChandraTala
Conductors: Scott Leithead, Katy Luyk, Laura Hawley
December, 2019


Original lyrics by Hawksley Workman for First snow of the year:

It’s the first snow of the year guess it happens once a year oh glory and dogs in the neighborhood are going crazy and even all the old ones that are usually lazy i wonder will it stay for good i wonder will it be here in the morning when i wake up to meet the day will the fresh white snow still around me lay

i know that by february my thoughts on snow will be contrary but this is now and then is then so

put the bicycles away and clear the walkways with a borrowed shovel and i heard this year was gonna be trouble if you thought last year was bad this year’s supposed to be double but you can never ever tell and it’s probably just as well take the toboggan to the nearest valley and night time comes just way too soon and you drag the thing home under a half lit moon

so i think we should go to bed early and light a candle where we lay stay as warm as we can stay

fill my nose up with the smell before you know the days will be getting long but as we hunker down a spell and the fire’s burning well i like the way that we keep warm in the covers.

With excerpts from:

Sleigh Ride – Sammy Cahn & Jule Styne

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas – Meredith Willson

Baby it’s cold outside – Frank Loesser

Winter Wonderland – Dick Smith & Felix Bernard

Let it snow – Sammy Cahn and Jule Styne

The Christmas Waltz – Sammy Cahn & Jule Styne

Marshmallow World – Carl Sigman & Peter De Rose

Frosty the Snowman – Steve Nelson & Jack Rollins

White Christmas – Irving Berlin

Carol of the bells – Peter J. Wilhousky & M. Leontovich