I'm planning a trip to the Sheffield area of Northern England where the pre-Victorian carols still survive in the pubs of South Yorkshire and North Derbyshire. This is one of the more unusual carols - I wonder if you can guess its origin? Make a guess before you search for it on internet. You can easily find it - just search for "sightless eyeball"! Don't post the answer just yet - I'll put it up next week.
Peace o'er the world, her olive branch extends,
And white-robed innocence from heaven descends
Swift fly the years and rise the expected morn,
O Spring to light thy auspicious babe be born!
Hark a glad voice, the lonely desert cheers,
Prepare a way, a way, our God appears;
Our God, our God, the vocal hills reply,
The rocks proclaim the approaching deity.
The Saviour comes, by ancient seers foretold;
Hear Him, ye deaf; and all ye blind, behold.
He, from thick films shall purge the visual ray
And on the sightless eye-ball pour the day.
They don't write words like those any more! This carol was popular in the village of Bradwell, and became known as The Bradda' Anthem. The words have changed remarkably little over the years, and the fuguing in the arrangement makes it much more striking than you might imagine.
One or two folkies have revealed themselves recently! If you would like to know more about the carols, search for "Village Carols". To hear some of the carols lovingly sung, listen to Late Junction on BBC Radio 3 next week. One or two carols from Coope Boyes and Simpson's recent concert at the Royal Festival Hall will be played every night I believe. You can also listen to it on the BBC Radio 3 website, either live or on demand. Coope Boyes and Simpson live either side of the Yorkshire/Derbyshire border - I don't think anyone could sing the carols better. More details on their website.