Peter Bloesch Listen

Holiday Pops Music ~ 
FULL Orchestra (without chorus)

“I Saw Three Ships Come Fiddling In”

(An arrangement of the traditional English carol)

See Description, Instrumentation, and Reviews at bottom of page.


SCORING:  Large pops orchestra (either with or without a guest group of solo violinists) — See the “Instrumentation” tab below for details.

DURATION:  2:30  /  DIFFICULTY:  Recommended for professional ensembles


“I Saw Three Ships Come Fiddling In” is a fun and boisterous jig-like arrangement of “I Saw Three Ships,” and it features a group of violinists in almost non-stop motion as they dance their way through the piece. In fact, this piece has actually been choreographed by Irish dancers!

For the most part, the orchestration is light and colorful, with the exception of the opening, middle, and ending sections, which are larger-sounding and help give shape to the piece. Two additional carols in 6/8 time make brief appearances in the piece (“Here We Come A-Wassailing” and “We Three Kings”).

This piece may be performed in one of two ways:

1.)  With members of the violin section performing the “violin soli” part

2.)  With a guest group of solo violinists performing the “violin soli” part

See the “Instrumentation” tab below for details.

2 Flutes (2nd and 3rd Flutes double on Piccolo)
2 Oboes + 1 English Horn
3 Clarinets in Bb
2 Bassoons + 1 Contrabassoon

4 Horns
3 Trumpets in C
3 Trombones
1 Tuba

1 timpanist (4 timps), plus 3 percussionists on the following instruments:  Glockenspiel, Xylophone, Chimes, Vibraphone, Suspended Cymbal, Snare Drum, Triangle, Tambourine, Mark Tree, Finger Cymbal

HARP:  1 Harp

KEYBOARD:  1 electronic keyboard with the following two sounds:  acoustic piano, celeste

STRINGS*:  Ideally, a minimum of 10,10,8,8,6


1.)  With members of the existing violin section performing the “violin soli” part:  In this scenario, you can give the violin soli part to the 1st Violins. The 2nd Violins will then cover both the Violin 1 and Violin 2 parts in the orchestral accompaniment (dividing by stands).

2.)  With a guest group of solo violinists performing the “violin soli” part:  In this scenario, you can feature a guest group of 10-15 violinists, who will play the violin soli part. The 1st and 2nd Violins in the orchestra will then play their respective parts in the orchestral accompaniment.

3.)  With a well-miked solo violinist.

Scott Terrell, conductor:

“Peter's 'I Saw Three Ships Come Fiddling In' is a great Christmas carol
that has been transformed into a great Irish jig — a rip-roaring time,
and a true showpiece for any holiday concert!”

Scott Terrell, former Music Director and Conductor of the Lexington Philharmonic


Timothy Hankewich, conductor:

“A rollicking rendition that is sheer fun from start to finish!”

Timothy Hankewich, Music Director and Conductor of Orchestra Iowa