Babylon AKA Waters of Babylon

This is a short three part round, based on Psalm 137.

It is usually called "Waters of Babylon", to distinguish it from the song "Rivers of Babylon".

Rise Up Singing gives the 2nd line as "we sat down ... ", but most other sources refer to "we lay down ...".   PowerPoint slides for both options are provided below.

It is a set to, Canon à quatre voix d'après, a tune by English composer, Philip Hayes (1738–1797).

It became well-known in the 1970s, when a version by American singer Don McLean was included in the soundtrack of the movie American Pie.

Guitar chords

RUS does not give a chord pattern for the tune.  Other sources suggest this pattern for Am (the key of the melody line printed in RUS):
Am     G
By the waters,
    F         E   Am
The waters of Babylon

Am              G
We lay down and wept,
    F        E      Am
And wept for thee Zion.
Am          G
We remember thee
Remember thee
         E     Am
Remember thee Zion.
This notation shown here is a little different to the version in RUS: as well as being in a different key, it has a more exaggerated timing.


By the waters, the waters, of Babylon.
We lay down and wept, and wept, for thee Zion.
We remember, we remember, we remember thee Zion.



trio in close-harmony:

Don McLean with audience at a live show, 1970s:

Four voices with piano:

Virtual choir, unaccompanied:

Large choir with piano and violin: