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
Oh 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.
This is one of the pre-Victorian carols that survive in the villages of South Yorkshire and North Derbyshire. It's popularity in Bradwell gave it the title The Bradda' Anthem. The fuguing in the arrangement makes the carol much more dramatic than you might expect. They don't write words like those any more! I wonder if you can guess their origin? You can easily find it by searching for "sightless eyeball"! Don't post the answer yet, I'll put it up next week.
One or two folkies have revealed themselves recently! If you would like to know more about the carols, search for "Village Carols". I'm planning to visit Sheffield at the week-end to hear them myself. Coope Boyes and Simpson live either side of the Yorkshire/Derbyshire border and I can't imagine anyone singing them better. If you would like to hear some, I believe that each night next week Late Junction on BBC Radio 3 will be broadcasting one or two from Coope Boyes and Simpson's concert at the Royal Festival Hall. You can also listen on the internet via the BBC Radio 3 website; Late Junction is available either live or on demand. More details on the Coope Boyes and Simpson website.
Season's Greetings from Henry
And sightless eyeball is NOT a googlewhack! Strange. Does that make the term a potpourri?
There will be a peace extending over the entire planet.
This poem is based on Scripture.
"I "Love Summer more than I hate Winter"
Well, the words of the carol are based on lines from Alexander Pope's Messiah, published in 1712. The words have been changed very little in almost 300 years, especially considering that the carol tradition has been a largely oral one.
The pre-Victorian carols survive in perhaps twenty villages between Sheffield and Castleton. We visited the Blue Ball in Worrall at Sunday lunchtime and were privileged to spend two hours with the local residents sharing their early celebration of Christmas.
It's interesting that the very old carols survive in the same area that the very old (I think!) custom of well-dressing also survives in quite a large number of villages*- is there something about Derbyshire/South Yorkshire particularly conducive to keeping their heritage intact?
* I think actually the well-dressing has been expanded, in recent years, in some cases to villages that didn't used to do it originally.
What is well-dressing?
A custom that is local to Derbyshire, or has survived there. Every year a picture is prepared using, I think, dried flowers and erected at the well. The first day usually includes some celebration too.
I haven't looked, but there must be details and images on the internet.
Other local survivals include Castleton Garland King and Ashbourne football game on Shrove Tuesday.
"Sightless eye-ball" is jarring, for sure.
The first time I heard "by the light of burning martyrs" (an actual line in an actual hymn) I thought for sure it was a joke.
Religion and poetry are not for the faint of heart!
Well dressing isn't dried flowers, it's fresh ones, mainly the heads which are put into a base wet clay to keep them fresh for as long as possible, the results are like carpet bedding only more detailed, and making pictures. Even in the clay, the flowers dry out quite quickly and the pictures only last a week or so until the clay dries out and cracks. Went to see about 10 a few years ago - marvellous!
Maybe that's where the Rose Parade got the idea.
We went to see Coope Boyes and Simpson perform their carols in Belper. It was a great evening, with the opportunity to join in the better-known carols. Classic FM have played their new CD of local carols and reported an "indecent number of enquiries". My friends have been deluged with phone calls from listeners wanting to buy the CD. Now this non-commercial view of Christmas is proving popular, they might even have a Christmas hit!