The Periodic Table Song revisited

Periodic Table

In 1955, Tom Lehrer wrote The Elements, setting the names of all the then-known elements to the tune of the Major-General’s patter song from Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Pirates of Penzance. Lehrer’s song is prevented from being a useful pedagogic tool by the fact that he does not list the elements in order.

When my daughter was one year old, I decided to see if I could entertain her by singing the elements, to the same tune, but this time in order. It certainly entertained me and had the beneficial effect that I can now remember the first four lines of the table perfectly. My daughter, now six, just tells me to “stop singing that awful song.”

Here then, for the sake of pedagogy and posterity, is how you can make the names of the elements scan into the Major-General’s song. Your mileage may vary. Batteries not included.

Oh, there’s hydrogen and helium, and lithium, beryllium
Boron, carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, fluorine, and neon
Sodium, magnesium, aluminium, and silicon
And phosphorus, and sulphur, and chlorine, and argon

Oh, there’s potassium, and calcium, scandium, titanium
Vanadium, chromium, manganese, and iron
Cobalt, nickel, copper, zinc, gallium, germanium
And arsenic, selenium, bromine, and krypton

These are the first four rows of the periodic table
I’d like to tell you more but I really am not able
To remember all their names, except for some
Like gold, silver, lead, and uranium


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