Ah, si mon moine voulait danser

Conductor Notes:

For SSA, piano (advanced), and optional percussion. This lively song is one French-speaking Canada ‘s best-known folk songs. Typical of the folk music of Québec and France, this song takes a humorous situation and embellishes it through verse after verse to a hilarious conclusion. In this case, a girl is trying to convince a monk to dance with her. She offers him various articles of clothing (a hooded robe, a braided belt), claiming at the end that she would give him much more if only he hadn’t made a vow of poverty. Donald Patriquin’s arrangements of this and other Québecois folk songs have become so popular in the past 15 years they have overshadowed all predecessors. They invariably have difficult and prominent piano parts, and quite manageable choral parts. The effect is energetic and fun, and most of these arrangements make good concert closers.

The challenge for English-speaking choirs, of course, will be the French text and fast tempo. Luckily, many of the words are repeated in every verse, making this a slightly easier arrangement for such choirs to tackle than Patriquin’s J’entends le moulin. In Ah, si mon moine voulait danser!, the arranger opens the piece with a moderate-tempo plea by the girl, accelerating quickly into the lively main rhythm of the piece. Much of the writing is in 2 parts, but 3 and 4 parts are needed here and there throughout, divisions that are very clearly laid out with an eye to allowing the melody to dominate. A sudden switch to half tempo and back again for the last verse makes for a terrific ending. This arrangement is also available for SATB and piano.

Composer / Arranger Notes:

‘Ah! si mon moine’ is from the suite “Six Songs of Early Canada” that I wrote in the late ’70s. It was commissioned by Toronto ‘s Havergal School, and first performed by them. This suite of Canadian folksong arrangements marked a new direction in my arrangements in which I attempted to give the accompaniment and the choral part equal prominence. I also strove to make the accompaniment as interesting as possible pianistically as there appeared to be a dearth of folksong arrangements that would really challenge a good pianist.

Initially, I self-published the suite in my original manuscript, but in spite of this it started to receive interest south of the border. Earthsong’s publisher Ron Jeffers heard ‘Ah! Si mon moine…’ performed by Hilary Apfelstadt at a meeting of American music educators and shortly after asked if he could publish the suite. Needless to say I gladly accepted the offer, and this was beginning of a marvelous relationship with earthsongs which lists some forty of my arrangements in its catalogue. To this I’ll add that the word ‘moine’ means both a ‘top’ (the kind kids play with and make spin) and a ‘monk’. In this piece, a young lady dreams of what inducements she might offer her monk (top) to get him (it) to dance.


This lists any discs, concerts or collections where this piece is included.




Refrain: O danse mon moin’ danse, tu n’entends pas la danse.
Ah! Si mon moine voulait danser! Un capuchon je lui donnerais.
Tu n’entends pas mon moulin, lon, la, tu n’entends pas mon moulin marcher.
Ah! Si mon moine voulait danser! Un ceinturon je lui donnerais.
Ah! Si mon moine voulait danser! Un chapelet je lui donnerais.
Ah! Si mon moine voulait danser! Un froc de bur’ je lui donnerais.
S’il n’avait fait voeu de pauvrete! Bien d’autres chos’ je lui donnerais.


Oh, if only my monk would dance with me,
I’d give him a hooded robe.
Dance, my monk, dance!
Don’t you hear the dance?
Oh, if only my monk would dance with me,
I’d give him a braided belt.
Dance, my monk, dance!
Don’t you hear the dance?

If he hadn’t made a vow of poverty,
I’d give him lots of other wonderful things, too!
Dance, my monk, dance!
Don’t you hear the dance?