Rise Up Singing

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Rise Up Singing: The Group Singing Songbook
Rise Up Singing songbook.jpg
Author Peter Blood and Annie Patterson (eds)
Country US
Language English
Subject Folk, popular music
Genre fake book
Publisher Sing Out! Corporation
Publication date
Pages 288
ISBN 0-9626704-7-2
OCLC 26641560

Rise Up Singing is a popular group singing songbook conceived, developed, and edited by Annie Patterson and Peter Blood. It is the best-selling popular folk music collection in the United States and Canada, having sold over a million copies.[1] since being published in 1988. Rise Up Singing contains words, chords, and sources to 1200 songs. Although the book is weighted towards folk music, it includes a wide variety of song genres including gospel, popular music, and Broadway show tunes that work well in sing-along settings. A sequel called Rise Again Songbook was released in 2015, containing lyrics and chords to 1200 more songs. The book is very popular.


Rise Up Singing’s creators, Annie Patterson and Peter Blood, both grew up in musical families that sang together regularly around the piano and campfires. Both led singing at camps and church youth groups and longed for a songbook containing large numbers of songs popularized by the Folk Revival of the 1960s. Blood helped to produce a series of mimeographed collections of song lyrics for use in sing-along settings where he was leading singing beginning in the early 1960s. These eventually grew into a songbook called Winds of the People[2] (named for a song by Victor Jara), utilizing the same basic format that would later be used in Rise Up Singing. The book was published informally in 1979 with active help by activists involved in the Movement for a New Society. The book developed a large word-of-mouth following selling over 35,000 copies out of people’s homes.

Blood and Patterson collaborated to create Rise Up Singing, which was published by Sing Out! Magazine in 1988. No one anticipated that this new songbook would sell hundreds of thousands of copies virtually without formal promotion or advertising.


Rise Up Singing contains no notation except for rounds. Songs are laid out in a compact format allowing for three or more songs on each page. As a result, 1200 songs are able to fit in a compact and inexpensive songbook. Songs are arranged alphabetically in chapters that are grouped by subject matter or song genre, making it easy to find songs without reference to the indices. The book is indexed by title, artist, culture/language, holidays, and musical shows.

Since the book includes only lyrics and chords without notation, it is relatively compact in size and also relatively inexpensive. Recordings of the songs, which can be used as learning tools, have been made for each song in the book, and are now available on CD. Only enough of each song is included to learn the tune; not all verses are sung.

Use in sing-alongs[edit]

The book was designed to provide participants at sing-alongs easy access to song lyrics, so they can easily join in on songs with the song leader. This songbook is used at hundreds of churches, synagogues, schools, camps, and conference centers.

Monthly sing-alongs and song circles are held throughout North America. Many of these sing-alongs use Rise Up Singing and Rise Again to provide lyrics to participants. Rise Up Singing is so ubiquitous in folk music circles that it is often referred to as “the blue book” or “the bible”.

In the United States and Canada, there are scores of monthly sings (singalongs) where groups gather to sing selections from Rise Up Singing.[2][3][4] A second songbook, Rise Again Songbook which includes more jazz, blues, rock and roll, and songs written since 1988, was released in 2016.

Use as a Fake Book[edit]

Although Rise Up Singing was originally intended for group singing purposes, it is also widely used as a folk music fake book. Well-known folk musicians such as Eric Andersen and Billy Bragg have reported to the book’s creators that they carry the book with them as they tour to look up words and chords to songs.

Because the book does not include musical notation, if people do not already know the melody to a song they can learn the tunes from recordings, online sources such as YouTube or informally from friends. A series of twenty teaching discs are available containing the tunes to all 1200 songs in Rise Up Singing. The editors’ website contains an online database which links directly to YouTube recordings for most of the songs in both books.

Pete Seeger's Involvement[edit]

Pete Seeger founded the folk song magazine Sing Out! in 1950. When Blood shared his frustration in being unable to obtain permission for many of the songs in Winds of the People, Seeger told him “Don’t bother to ask: they’ll only say no.”

In 1985 Blood and Patterson approached the board of Sing Out! asking them to publish an expanded fully legal version of Winds of the People. With the enthusiastic support of Pete and Toshi Seeger (who were members of the board) the proposal was adopted. Seeger’s manager, Harold Leventhal, played an active role in persuading major music publishers to agree to license their songs for Rise Up Singing. Over two hundred musicians donated use of their songs for the new collection, including Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, Bruce Springsteen, Judy Collins, and James Taylor.

Seeger wrote the introduction to the book, which he liked to refer to as “my most successful piece of writing” because of the large number of copies the book sold. Rise Up Singing was published by Sing Out! Magazine in 1988.

Seeger became an enthusiastic backer of the new book after its release, often mentioning it at his concerts. He carried boxes of books every month to sing-alongs held at the Beacon Sloop Club.


Rise Up Singing has been embraced enthusiastically by a wide variety of leaders in the field of folk music and the arts, including Bonnie Raitt, Joan Baez, Arlo Guthrie, Holly Near, Bill Harley, Cathy Fink & Marcy Marxer, and Billy Bragg.

Studs Terkel (author of Working: People Talk About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do) described Rise Up Singing as “the best, most exhilarating and glorious history of the United States: a singing history. It is more than a lovely songbook—it is a play-work-fight-freedom hymnal.”

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The book has sold over a million copies according to the Biography of Peter Blood and Annie Patterson on their web site.
  2. ^ a b Ratliff, Ben (2008-02-10). "Shared Song, Communal Memory". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-02-10. 
  3. ^ Singalongs & Round-robins listed at Peter Blood and Annie Patterson's web site
  4. ^ Singing events

External links[edit]