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  • LiriodendronLiriodendron Scariff, County Clare, IrelandPosts: 6,489
    And thanks for the info about the Wren Boys, @pansyface.  Any excuse to dress up in funny clothes, jig about and drink too much...  looks fun though.  Hopefully a real wren no longer features.   :)
    "The one who plants trees, knowing that he will never sit in their shade, has at least started to understand the meaning of life."  Rabindranath Tagore
  • pansyfacepansyface PEAK DISTRICT DerbyshirePosts: 17,756
    Yes, the poor old wren. There used to be some really miserable ways of having a good time, didn’t there?

    Let’s hope that the pubs and restaurants can withstand this ridiculous on/off arrangement. How they are supposed to know what to buy in and when, I have no idea. And how the brewers are supposed to have draught beer ready at a moment’s notice is beyond me.  If they can make it through, there will be no shortage of carol singers wanting to drop by for a sing next year.

    Apophthegm -  a big word for a small thought.
  • pansyfacepansyface PEAK DISTRICT DerbyshirePosts: 17,756
    edited November 2020
    There comes a point where you either have to beat them or, if you can’t beat them, you have to join them.

    In December, I often think about the Rev. Alfred Gatty, vicar of the beautiful little fifteenth century church of St. Mary in Ecclesfield. Giving sermons to his congregation of possibly illiterate but certainly skilled craftsmen;  filemakers, needlemakers and so on, singing the “official” hymns on Sunday morning and then listening to them yards away, over the road in The Black Bull, singing their own songs, the ones that had been discarded by the church. And no doubt, after a pint or two, singing them loudly and with much more enjoyment and enthusiasm than the Sunday ones.

    There seems to have come a point where the socially elevated members of society decided that they had to bring the lofty words of the official hymns down a peg or two in order to appeal to the masses. A case of if you can’t beat them, join them.

    Mrs Cecil Frances Alexander wrote All Things Bright and Beautiful, There is a Green Hill Far Away and Once in Royal David’s City in the latter part of the 19th century.

    Designed for children, simple in tune and vocabulary, they caught on with adults too.

    Mrs. Alexander’s father was not nobility, merely a land agent for the 4th Earl of Wicklow and Marquess of Abercorn, but he rubbed shoulders with them.

    In Ecclesfield Rev Alfred Gatty and his son, also Alfred (later to become Sir Alfred), composed a carol that is now known as The Ecclesfield carol. What irony. They knocked it out long after the locals had taken theirs over the road to the pub.

    The noticeable thing about both Mrs Alexander’s and Rev. Gatty’s compositions is they couldn’t help themselves from bringing the nobility into the conversation.

    Where most of the Sheffield and north Derbyshire carols were written by manual workers, and the words of their carols concentrated on the humble beginnings of the saviour who would protect and guide them, these two people were keen to keep the humble bit out of it.

    All Things Bright and Beautiful talks of “the rich man in his castle, the poor man at his gate. He made them high and lowly and ordered their estate.”

    That would be the rich man’s gate, let’s not forget. Waiting for day work or a dole from a wooden dole cupboard maybe.

    Rev. Gatty has the same problem with the people knowing their place.

    Here is”the Ecclesfield Carol”, still sung at Christmas time in The Black Bull.

    Apophthegm -  a big word for a small thought.
  • pansyfacepansyface PEAK DISTRICT DerbyshirePosts: 17,756
    edited November 2020
    Time for another While Shepherds Watched. This time with a jolly little chorus, which gives it its title: Hail Chime On.

    Sung here by some kids in Gifford. Nice to see the younger generation getting to know the old songs. Too many of us are starting to fall off our perches.

    Here we go. Join in if you like - it’s quite catchy.

    Apophthegm -  a big word for a small thought.
  • KT53KT53 Posts: 4,589
    The main Christmas tradition in our household seems to be my wife wanting to put decorations up far too early, and me being moaned at for refusing to get them out of the attic until the middle of December.  I have softened that approach given it's been such an awful year, and the tree and lights went up at the weekend.
  • pansyfacepansyface PEAK DISTRICT DerbyshirePosts: 17,756
    Oh well, maybe you can retaliate by singing these carols all day long. That should break her spirit.

    Here’s one that is still a favourite with the Sally Ally round here. So maybe drag your tambourine down off the top of the wardrobe and give it a good thump to knock the dust off it.

    Apophthegm -  a big word for a small thought.
  • pansyfacepansyface PEAK DISTRICT DerbyshirePosts: 17,756
    And while we are celebrating the birth of a baby, let’s not forget the wormwood and the gall. Always brings a bit of cheer to the festive hearth. Despite the somewhat gloomy words, it’s a popular carol in both north Derbyshire and Sheffield.

    Apophthegm -  a big word for a small thought.
  • debs64debs64 West Midlands, on the edge of the Black Country Posts: 2,910
    Thanks @pansyface for this thread, lovely to see the words of these alternative carols. Very illuminating when you understand a little of the social context too. 
  • pansyfacepansyface PEAK DISTRICT DerbyshirePosts: 17,756
    edited December 2020
    Glad you’re enjoying them debs.

    There are lots of odd little traditions still around.  Not all the carols are sung in pubs.  Sometimes, they are sung outside particular houses in a village and sometimes, as in the village of Foolow, the singers enter certain family homes and stand in whatever space is available to sing.

    Each Christmas night, they sing one carol that by tradition “belongs” to only that house, one carol that the current owners choose themselves, and a third final carol, which is called, somewhat unsurprisingly, Farewell.

    Obviously it’s impossible to record or film the carols that are sung inside people’s homes, but here is one from Foolow. I think it is only sung there. And it fits in nicely with another old tradition, the honouring of t’owd man. 

    Here is a photo of a carving from the church of St Mary in Wirksworth, showing t’owd man.

    He’s a lead miner. Lead mining was a major industry in Derbyshire for centuries.

    Ingots of Derbyshire lead were found in Pompeii.

    So each Christmas t’owd man was kept in good spirits by being remembered with drink and food and a carol.

    Here is one carol from Foolow. It’s called Marshall and I love it. It’s not especially Christmassy, but it has a great sense of drama and emotion.

    I’m afraid I don’t have a recording of us singing it in four parts, but here is a young man doing his best to give a feeling of how it sounds.

    Apophthegm -  a big word for a small thought.
  • pansyfacepansyface PEAK DISTRICT DerbyshirePosts: 17,756
    Same words as before, but sung in a Sheffield pub not a Derbyshire house to a different tune.

    “Marshall” becomes “Star of Bethlehem”.

    Apophthegm -  a big word for a small thought.
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