Best Songs For Babies And Toddlers: Kumbayah

No matter where you live, you’ve probably heard the song Kumbayah (or Kumbaya).  It’s one of those classic folksongs that brings back memories of summer camp, bonfires, campfires or family reunions.  And it’s incredibly easy to sing and make new for your family or children.  The song starts with a chorus of the main phrase, “Kumbayah”, which means “Come By Here”.  In fact, the first title of the song when it was published in 1936 was: “Come By Here”.  After that, each verse tells a story that someone is crying, laughing, smiling, etc.

What a joy to sing a version of this simple song where you can act out what is in the song, or add new verses about what your child or someone in the family loves to do.

Someone’s riding on their bike today, Kumbayah.

Someone’s playing on their drum today, Kumbayah.

Someone’s dancing with their friends today, Kumbayah.

It’s wonderful to watch a child’s eyes light up as the song tells a story about them or someone they love.  They quickly get the idea that they can help create songs and music and lyrics, too!

When I recorded this song, I had just finished working with the STOMP/PULSE program and had the honor of hearing some amazing percussionists from South Africa.  Since the song is so well-known in it’s folksong or sing-around-the-campfire form, I put a different spin on it and created a version with a South African feel.  You can check out the song and the video for it here:

Sometimes it’s the simplest songs that become childhood or family favorites.  As a parent, you should feel free to play with other songs you remember and make them fresh and new again for your kids. What a great way to become part of the folk process and bring the magic of music into your child’s life at the same time!

-Daria Marmaluk-Hajioannou


Song Lyrics Online

Downloadable Song Lyrics

Daria’s Kumbayah on Itunes

Daria’s Kumbayah on Amazon mp3

(as sung by Peter, Paul and Mary)

Kumbaya my Lord, kumbaya

Kumbaya my Lord, kumbaya

Kumbaya my Lord, kumbaya

Oh Lord, kumbaya

Someone’s singing Lord, kumbaya

Someone’s laughing, Lord, kumbaya

Someone’s crying, Lord, kumbaya

Someone’s praying, Lord, kumbaya


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