'Sunrise, Sunset' Gets New
Same-Sex Lyrics

Music

For theater-lovers, the song "Sunrise, Sunset" holds a special place in the wedding repertoire, taken from the 1964 musical "Fiddler on the Roof." In the show, the ballad is sung during Tzeitel's wedding to the tailor Motel by her parents, Tevye and Golde, who reflect on the passage of time. Now, 47 years later, the song's lyrics have officially been re-written to include same-sex couples. Joshua Ellis, an interfaith minister, approached the musical's lyricist Sheldon Harnick a few weeks ago to request that he rework the non-inclusive words to premiere a new version at the wedding of Richard Skipper and Daniel Sherman's in Tappan, NY. Harnick agreed and spent a few days on the changes, so that the new lyrics now read:

For male couples:
Is that the little boy I carried?
Is this the little boy at play?
I don't remember growing older.
When did they?

When did they get to be so handsome?
When did they grow to be so tall?
Wasn't it yesterday when they were small?

For female couples:
Is this the little girl I carried?
Is this the little girl at play?
I don't remember growing older.
When did they?

When did she get to be a beauty?
[Alternative: When did she get to be so handsome?]
When did she grow to be this tall?
Wasn't it yesterday when they were small?

Of course, Ellis—who has officiated many same-sex ceremonies since marriage equality went into effect in New York in July—could have simply changed the lyrics himself without ever going through the official channels. "I wanted them them to be sanctioned," he told The New York Times. "If I'm going to do it with a Sondheim lyric, why not ask him first? It's the professional thing to do, the ethical thing to do and the classy thing to do." —Phillip B. Crook

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