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 in the Catholic Cursillo movement and related communities such as the Great Banquet, Chrysalis Flight, Tres Días, Walk to Emmaus, and Kairos Prison Ministry.

The song is also associated with the United Farm Workers union, as one of the most commonly heard songs during rallies.[2]

History and origins of the song[edit]

Though the song is associated with Mexican folklore, it is not known for certain when and where it originated.[3][4] It is believed to have been in circulation throughout the Americas since the 16th century, with melodies brought over from Spain during the colonial era.[5][6] Some modern lyrics 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 five 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 biographical film Romero by Raúl Juliá, as Saint Óscar Romero, the Archbishop of San Salvador assassinated nine years prior, 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. ISBN 9780979861192.
  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. ISBN 9780826354679.
  6. ^ Candelaria, Cordelia (2004). Encyclopedia of Latino Popular Culture. Vol. 1. Greenwood. p. 145. ISBN 9780313332111.
  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 978-0549738862.
  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.{{cite AV media notes}}: CS1 maint: others in cite AV media (notes) (link)
  9. ^ McGuire, Kenneth (2000). "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. JSTOR 3345366. S2CID 143377203.
  10. ^ Lum, Chee-Hoo; Shehan Campbell, Patricia (2007). "The Sonic Surrounds of an Elementary School". Journal of Research in Music Education. 55 (1 (Spring 2007)): 31–47. doi:10.1177/002242940705500104. S2CID 143136836.
  11. ^ Trapp, Elizabeth (1991). "Break down Inhibitions and Build up Understanding with Music, Music, Music". Hispania. 74 (2 (May 1991)): 437–438. doi:10.2307/344857. JSTOR 344857.