The Song That Got Me in Trouble Back in My 5th Grade Catholic School Music Class

For some reason, our music teacher decided that we should get into groups of three. Each group would practice a song together and then present to the class as a group. The best part was that we were allowed to pick any song we wanted. In 5th grade I was a bit of a prankster. This was a golden opportunity to get a laugh from my classmates and sweet exasperation from our music teacher.

I easily talked the other two kids in my group into my plan to disrupt the class. We were going to sing “Song of the Pious Itinerant”, also known as “Hallelujah, I’m a Bum”.

The song had been recorded by several performers over the years, but I learned the song from The New Christy Minstrels. Apparently my uncle had originally purchased a copy of their album, Tall Tales! Legends & Nonsense. I found it among other records that had been collected before I was born, but ended up at grandma’s house.

Finally it was our turn to sing our song in front of the class. I even had typed lyric sheets.

First, the intro.

Hallelujah. Hallelujah. Hallelujah.

Of course this was taken directly from Handel’s Messiah. In the Catholic Church this is considered sacred music. We got through the intro with only a stern glance from the teacher.

Then the song goes right into a chorus

Hallelujah, I’m a bum
Hallelujah, bum again
Hallelujah, give me handout
And you’ll be my friend

My little singing group got through nearly a minute of the song when the teacher demanded that we stop. She told us to step out to the hall and wait for her. Shortly thereafter I was in the principal’s office.

It turns out that we were committing blasphemy. WHOOPS! The reason they gave was that the music to Handel’s Messiah was too sacred to mock by using it as an intro for such a vulgar song. They sent me home with a note to my parents. My mother saw the note and asked me what happened at school. I told her. She laughed. I hope you did too.

Have you ever gotten in trouble at school for singing a song? What song? Did you sing it for class like I did, or maybe got caught in the hallway in between class? Let me know in the comments!

-Wacky Alex