The Music of Elizabeth Alexander

Things That Go Bump in the Night

A humorous and courageous journey from dusk to dawn

Music: Elizabeth Alexander

Words: Elizabeth Alexander with Edward Smith Elementary School students

A humorous and courageous journey from dusk to dawn, filled with night sounds that soothe, startle and scare. This rollicking tale in three movements contains a varied noctural soundscape that includes special effects, playful asides, ghost-story tropes, and an astute final message: “Fears are wise to listen to, but never let them get the best of you!”

Performance Note: This piece is not for a shy choir! Singers are asked to speak, whisper, shout, moan, click their tongues, rub their hands together, snap their fingers, stomp their feet, and become party cats.

Movements:
I. And the Moon Is Listening…
II. There It Is Again!
III. Things That Go Bump In the Night

Details and Ordering Information

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Composer Notes

Composer Notes

“Things That Go Bump in the Night” was composed with and for students at Edward Smith Elementary School in Syracuse, New York. The students thought up the theme themselves and spent a week writing a wealth of poetry and lyrics. Over the next several months we imagined their words into a multi-movement experience which included a full-fledged ghost story.

After the piece was completed I couldn’t believe how many adult choirs wanted to get in on the fun! Several choirs even created adaptations of their own. Eventually conductor Bryson Mortensen commissioned an “official” mixed choir version for the Festival Choir of Madison, allowing the piece to find a new life in concerts for the whole family.

Text

Things That Go Bump In the Night

I. And the moon is listening…

I lie in bed at night and listen.
Doors creak and walls moan,
Faucets drip and the house is settling.
And the moon is listening…

I lie in bed at night and listen.
Mice creep and clocks tick,
Marking time while we are dreaming.
And the moon is listening…

My cats go bumpity-bump all night,
Mischief happening left and right.
Bumpity-bumpity-bumpity-bumpity-bump!

I lie in bed at night and listen.
Snow falls and branches sway,
Wind chimes clatter in the breeze.
And the moon is listening…
And I drift to sleep…

II. There it is again!

Cracking lumber
wakes me from my slumber,
And my fear takes hold.
Sky and clouds brawl.
Simple things make my skin crawl.
And the night grows suddenly loud and dark and cold.

I hold my breath and dare not make a peep.
I try to go back to sleep…I can’t go back to sleep…
What’s that!?

I hear a creaking and a moaning,
Souls in agony are groaning.
There it is again!

It’s getting louder, and louder, and louder!
Something’s creeping under my bed!
Is it alive or is it dead?
Does it even have a head?

What’s that shadow that I see?
Is it a spider bigger than me?
Should I hide or should I flee?
There it is again!

I’m so scared I rattle the sheets!
I’m so scared I start to freeze!
I’m so scared I start to grow a beard!

Footsteps in the hall,
I’m not afraid, not at all.
Still, to be quite certain,
I’ll hide behind the curtain,
Standing very still like a statue…

A roar and a rip and then I know it’s a…it’s a…
And it’s coming closer and closer…

Suddenly it’s here!
I’m paralyzed by fear!
And it’s coming towards me
And I hear this noise:

GET BACK IN BED!

I turn on the light,
Not a shadow in sight.
So I go back to sleep,
And I don’t hear a peep.

III. Things That Go Bump in the Night

I pull the covers from my face
And glance around my room.
The light of dawn reveals no trace
Of a hair-raising visit from a creature of doom.

Things that go bump in the night just might
Make us go to the height of fright.
We get so scared
That our minds gets ensnared
By the things that go bump in the night.

Fear is wise to listen to,
But never let it get the best of you!

Lyrics by Elizabeth Alexander with students at Edward Smith Elementary School
© 2011 by Elizabeth Alexander. Revised 2023

Performers

Performers

COMPLETE WORK
Premiere: Women in Harmony / Catherine Beller-McKenna (Portland, ME)

Bella Voce Singers / Jessica Corbin (Brooklyn, NY)
Lamar High School Chorale Women / Gail Land (Houston, TX)
Vox Musica / Daniel Paulson (Sacramento, CA)

Selections
Lamar High School Chorale Women / Gail Land. Texas Music Educators Convention (San Antonio, TX)
Olive Branch High School Choir / Joelle M. Norris. ACDA Southern Division Conference (Memphis, TN)
Voca Lyrica / Virginia Kerwin. 11th Annual Invitational School Choral Festival (Big Rapids, MI)