De Colores

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"De colores" ([Made] of Colors) is a traditional Spanish language folk song that is well known throughout the Spanish-speaking world.[1] It is widely used as a song in the Roman Catholic Cursillo movement and related communities such as the Great Banquet, Chrysalis Flight, Tres Dias, Walk to Emmaus, and Kairos Prison Ministry . It is also associated with the United Farm Workers union, as one of the most commonly heard songs sung during rallies.[2]

History and origins of the song[edit]

The song is associated with Mexican folklore, but it is not known for certain when and where the song originated.[3][4] It is believed to have been in circulation throughout the Americas since the 16th century, with melodies being brought over from Spain during the colonial era.[5][6] Some versions of the lyrics sung today are widely understood to have been created by a group of Cursillo participants in Majorca, Spain, after one of the earliest Cursillo retreats in the 1940s.[7][8]

Today, in addition to being used as the unofficial anthem of the Farm Worker Movement and as an inspirational song in Cursillo workshops, the song is often taught in schools in the United States—from elementary school to community colleges—as an example of a common Mexican folk song.[9][10][11] It frequently appears in collections of children's songs.

Common song words[edit]

De colores is typically sung in Spanish, but there are different English translations of the song in circulation, and the song has been translated into other languages. The lyrics depict an expression of joy and a celebration of all creation with its many bright colors. Below are four of the most commonly heard verses. Many additional verses (and variations of these verses) are known to exist, some including Christian references and some including more specific to farm life or labor union issues to be used as a rallying-song for farm-laborers.


De colores has been recorded by many different artists, including Los Lobos, Joan Baez, Raffi, Nana Mouskouri, Tish Hinojosa, Arlo Guthrie, José-Luis Orozco, Justo Lamas, Baldemar Velasquez, Tara Strong, Rachael Cantu, Pete Seeger, Ismael Rivera and Tao Rodríguez-Seeger; and has been referenced in the Flobots song "Handlebars". It was featured in the 1988 movie The Milagro Beanfield War. Part of the song was also performed in the 1989 movie 'Romero' by Raul Julia, as Oscar Romero, and a group of nuns. It was featured in an episode of the PBS show Let's Go Luna in between the segments "What's the Big Idea?" and "The Day of the Dead".


  1. ^ Hedrick, Georgia (2009). De COLORES the Song: All the Colors. Bks nonprofit inc. p. 2.
  2. ^ Azcona, Stevan (2008). Movements in Chicano Music: Performing Culture, Performing Politics, 1965-1979 (Ph.D.). University of Texas at Austin. pp. 108–109. ISBN 9780549738862.
  3. ^ Serge Séguin (Feb 23, 2012). "Cursillo Movement FAQ: What is the origin of "De Colores"?". French Speaking Cursillo Movement of Canada. Retrieved April 15, 2012.
  4. ^ Kidd, Allison. "Union Access to Migrant Farmworkers: The Mt. Olive Pickle Company, Cucumber Farmers, and Farmworkers". The Labor Lawyer. 20 (3 (Winter/Spring 2005)): 339–361.
  5. ^ Gómez-Quiñones, Juan; Vásquez, Irene (2014). Making Aztlán: Ideology and Culture of the Chicana and Chicano Movement, 1966-1977. University of New Mexico Press. p. 260.
  6. ^ Candelaria, Cordelia (2004). Encyclopedia of Latino Popular Culture. 1. Greenwood. p. 145.
  7. ^ Azcona, Stevan (2008). Movements in Chicano Music: Performing Culture, Performing Politics, 1965-1979 (Ph.D.). University of Texas at Austin. pp. 108–109. ISBN 054973886X.
  8. ^ The UFW: Songs and Stories Sung and Told by UFW Volunteers (PDF) (Media notes). Terry Scott; Commentary on De Colores by Kathy Murguía and Abby Rivera. Farmworker Movement Documentation Project. 2004. p. 6. id.CS1 maint: others (link)
  9. ^ McGuire, Kenneth. "Common Songs of the Cultural Heritage of the United States: A Compilation of Songs That Most People "Know" and "Should Know"". Journal of Research in Music Education. 48 (4 (Winter 2000)): 310–322. doi:10.2307/3345366.
  10. ^ Lum, Chee-Hoo; Shehan Campbell, Patricia. "The Sonic Surrounds of an Elementary School". Journal of Research in Music Education. 55 (1 (Spring 2007)): 31–47. doi:10.1177/002242940705500104.
  11. ^ Trapp, Elizabeth. "Break down Inhibitions and Build up Understanding with Music, Music, Music". Hispania. 74 (2 (May 1991)): 437–438. doi:10.2307/344857.