The Small World of Ram Sam Sam

The larger of the two amphitheaters in Ephesus.

My family took a trip of a lifetime in July.  We spent three weeks visiting family in Turkey and had the opportunity to see many historic sites while we were there.

One of those historic places was the ancient city of Ephesus.  Yes!  THAT Ephesus:  the book of the Bible, the letter to the Ephesians written by the Apostle Paul.

The library of Celsus in Ephesus

The Ephesus site is near the modern day city of Selçuk, in the Izmir province and near the western Aegean coast of Turkey.  The day we visited was very hot, very sunny, and the area is always very dry.  (No water is available inside the historic area, so it seemed even hotter!)

Road in Ephesus
Road in Ephesus

We walked along the huge flat marble and other types of stone slabs on the streets, marveling at the magnificent columns, sculptures, city buildings, temples, homes, amphitheaters, etc.

As we were walking near the large amphitheater on our way back to the car after several hours of walking through the amazing ruins – I heard a familiar song being sung faintly nearby.  I quickly looked around to try to locate the person(s) singing.  I saw two teenaged young women walking behind an older couple (the parents, I presumed).

I listened as we walked.  They continued to sing.  The girls sang part of the song and then the Dad sang part of it back to them.  I was amazed to recognize the song as A Ram Sam Sam!!

What a small world!  I know and love this song and so do many children in my hometown area.  I teach this song, A Ram Sam Sam, to my young children’s choir every year.  Children love to sing it because of the fun words, catchy tune, and the clapping/hand motions we do as we sing it.  I find this song is a great way to introduce singing rounds because it is simple and repetitive.

I only hesitated a couple of seconds before I approached the young women from behind asking if either of them spoke any English.  I quickly explained that I recognized the song they were singing and was curious to know where they were from.

The family smiled and gathered around.  One of the girls told me they were from Romania!

I tried to explain that I am a music teacher and that I teach this song to children.  I’m not sure if they understood me completely, but I am sure they knew that I recognized their song since I sang a little of it with them.

This whole exchange probably took less than a minute.  I thanked them and we all went our separate ways.

I wish I had thought to take a photo of the family or to possibly make a quick video of them singing the song!  I, an American music teacher from Wisconsin, was so flabbergasted at hearing this children’s song — which originated in Africa and sung by a Romanian family in the ancient city of Ephesus in Turkey – that I didn’t think to do any of that.

Sometimes a moment is just meant to be enjoyed and remembered, and it does not have to be saved and chronicled for posterity in order to be a precious memory.  This is one of those moments now.

Ephesus Amphitheater
Ephesus Amphitheater

All photos taken by me (quirkyjazz, aka Jill) and are under CreativeCommons copyright.  See front page of The Tromp Queen for details.  


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I am a pianist, musician, music teacher, choir director, mother, wife, daughter, sister, cousin, sister-in-law, friend, neighbor. I enjoy music (of course!), quilting, sewing, beading, traveling, kayaking, camping, biking, hiking, gardening, knitting, scrapbooking, cooking, reading, poetry, drinking good coffee, and having fun with family and friends. NOTE -- Creative Commons License: All work of The Tromp Queen (quirkyjazz, aka Jill) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 4.0 Unported License.

4 thoughts on “The Small World of Ram Sam Sam”

  1. Arafi, Arafi, Guli, guli, guli, guli, ram sam sam.
    Children’s librarian here… Not a singer, but even I can sing that with the kids at story time! It’s one of my favorites! How wonderful to share this; and how wonderful to visit Turkey!
    (and now I have that song stuck in my brain!) 😉

    1. FUN! I had no idea this song enjoys such a world-wide audience. Does there happen to be a story to go with the song? I have always told my choirs that the song is from Morocco and that the words are basically nonsense words, like E-I-E-I-O in Old McDonald. (Sorry about the ear worm. I’ve had Les Miz songs stuck in my head for several days now.)

      1. No story that I know of, but there are motions. I always use it as a break after I tell the story The Little Rooster and the Turkish Sultan. (Just because it always sounded vaguely Turkish to me.) Now I’m going to look up where it actually comes from…

      2. Yes, we do motions, too! I thought it was from Morocco, but please let me know if you find out that is incorrect. I don’t know the Rooster and Sultan story. Could you please tell me the author?

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