Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Children's Song Robin in the Rain; WHO Wrote It? Was It a Scranton Native? I Need Your Help!

"Robin in the Rain" sung by Raffi
Written by Claire Senior Burke...
OR was it Brychan B. Powell of Scranton, PA?

A few days ago I received an email from a school board member in Toronto about the true authorship of the children's song titled Robin in the Rain, which became popular by singer Raffi. 99% of the websites and resources I've researched (including Popular Song Index, as well as the CD booklets of CDs in the Lackawanna County Children's Library that feature the song) credit the sole authorship of the song to Claire Senior Burke.

HOWEVER, my patron told me she found an obscure reference online credited to a book The ASCAP Biographical Dictionary: Composers, Authors and Publishers (Second Edition), edited by Daniel I. McNamara, published in 1952 (the complete book is available online by clicking here).

Page 393 of this book features an entry about Brychan B. Powell (born 8/24/1896), a native of Scranton, PA and member of the ASCAP who also served as managing editor of The Scranton Tribune and The Scrantonian from 1938 until at least the early 1950s. Powell's entry (image above) credits him as the author of the song Robin in the Rain.

Does anyone know the true songwriter of Robin in the Rain, or can anyone provide me with any additional information? If so, please email me by clicking here or leave a comment below.

Listen to Raffi's recording of Robin in the Rain below:



Hi. I'm not sure if anyone is reading this but for some reason the other day I started singing "Robin in the rain" to myself. I am now 63 years old.
I am from Adelaide South Australia and we used to sing this in "infant" School which for me was probably around 1959/1960, when I was about 6 or 7. Of course at that age I didn't really become concerned about authorship. It somehow made its way to Australia.

Kathryn Corbett said...

I still have three of Claire Senior Burke's songbooks for nursery schools and kindergartens, with her wonderful silhouette cut-out illustrations, from when I taught kindergarten in Oshawa (near Toronto) Canada in 1958-1960. I continued to use them for another 20 years in the private primary school I opened there and continued in Florida. Yesterday I pulled out those books and have been enjoying those delightful songs once again and remembering the children who loved to sing "Robin in the Rain" and so many more!

Kathryn Corbett said...

Publication dates for the three Claire Senior Burke songbooks I have are: "Songs and Silhouettes" 1933, "Scissors and Songs Part Two" 1939, and "Play Songs for Children" 1951, all published by Gordon V. Thompson Limited, of Toronto, Canada and Niagara Falls, USA. ("Play Songs" is illustrated with her own lovely drawings, rather than the silhouettes of her earlier books.) Her songs "Robin in the Rain" and "Who Is Coming on Christmas Night?" are included, with attribution, in "The New High Road of Song for Nursery Schools and Kindergartens" by Margaret I. Fletcher and Dorothy A. Millichamp, M.A., published by W.J. Gage Limited of Toronto, Canada in 1960. While studying Early Childhood Education at the Institute of Child Study in Toronto, I had the good fortune to have Margaret Fletcher as an instructor in her last year there before her retirement.