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Songs for the Winter Solstice

Related threads:
Winter Solstice (15)
Lyr Req: Winter solstice songs wanted (22)
Winter Solstice Play/Pageant (15)
Solstice on the 21 of December (25)
solstice songs (19)
Lyr Add: Solstice songs! (35)
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GUEST,abjb 28 Nov 07 - 12:59 PM
Les in Chorlton 28 Nov 07 - 01:13 PM
ClaireBear 28 Nov 07 - 01:19 PM
GUEST,TJ in San Diego 28 Nov 07 - 02:38 PM
GUEST,Tinker in Chicago 28 Nov 07 - 05:57 PM
Jack Campin 28 Nov 07 - 07:20 PM
oldhippie 28 Nov 07 - 07:22 PM
katlaughing 28 Nov 07 - 10:20 PM
Jack Blandiver 29 Nov 07 - 04:05 AM
Les in Chorlton 29 Nov 07 - 09:44 AM
Jack Blandiver 29 Nov 07 - 10:00 AM
katlaughing 29 Nov 07 - 10:16 AM
Les in Chorlton 29 Nov 07 - 11:20 AM
AllisonA(Animaterra) 29 Nov 07 - 12:50 PM
Saro 29 Nov 07 - 01:42 PM
lefthanded guitar 29 Nov 07 - 02:46 PM
Long Firm Freddie 29 Nov 07 - 02:54 PM
GUEST,Songster Bob 29 Nov 07 - 03:09 PM
Les in Chorlton 30 Nov 07 - 03:39 AM
Anne Lister 30 Nov 07 - 12:07 PM
Les in Chorlton 30 Nov 07 - 01:22 PM
PoppaGator 30 Nov 07 - 02:25 PM
Les in Chorlton 30 Nov 07 - 04:09 PM
PoppaGator 30 Nov 07 - 04:22 PM
Anne Lister 30 Nov 07 - 04:48 PM
Jack Blandiver 30 Nov 07 - 06:39 PM
GUEST,hg 01 Dec 07 - 12:40 AM
Jack Blandiver 01 Dec 07 - 04:48 AM
Jack Blandiver 01 Dec 07 - 04:50 AM
Les in Chorlton 01 Dec 07 - 06:36 AM
Anne Lister 01 Dec 07 - 11:12 AM
Les in Chorlton 01 Dec 07 - 12:21 PM
Jack Blandiver 01 Dec 07 - 12:26 PM
Les in Chorlton 01 Dec 07 - 12:49 PM
Susan B 01 Dec 07 - 01:35 PM
Ref 01 Dec 07 - 06:40 PM
Anne Lister 01 Dec 07 - 07:15 PM
katlaughing 01 Dec 07 - 07:47 PM
kytrad (Jean Ritchie) 01 Dec 07 - 08:44 PM
Les in Chorlton 02 Dec 07 - 04:40 AM
oombanjo 02 Dec 07 - 05:43 AM
Anne Lister 02 Dec 07 - 05:50 AM
Les in Chorlton 02 Dec 07 - 06:57 AM
Anne Lister 02 Dec 07 - 01:25 PM
Les in Chorlton 02 Dec 07 - 01:48 PM
Jack Blandiver 02 Dec 07 - 02:33 PM
Anne Lister 03 Dec 07 - 02:44 AM
Les in Chorlton 03 Dec 07 - 04:01 AM
Jack Blandiver 03 Dec 07 - 04:47 AM
GUEST,hg 03 Dec 07 - 08:06 AM
katlaughing 03 Dec 07 - 10:10 AM
Anne Lister 03 Dec 07 - 03:22 PM
Fidjit 03 Dec 07 - 04:01 PM
Anne Lister 03 Dec 07 - 05:01 PM
Jack Blandiver 04 Dec 07 - 10:33 AM
Jack Blandiver 04 Dec 07 - 10:36 AM
Les in Chorlton 04 Dec 07 - 10:37 AM
katlaughing 04 Dec 07 - 10:43 AM
Jack Blandiver 04 Dec 07 - 11:20 AM
Anne Lister 04 Dec 07 - 12:39 PM
Jack Blandiver 04 Dec 07 - 01:22 PM
Les in Chorlton 04 Dec 07 - 01:27 PM
topical tom 04 Dec 07 - 02:33 PM
katlaughing 04 Dec 07 - 04:21 PM
GUEST,The Back belt caterpillar wrestler 04 Dec 07 - 05:49 PM
PoppaGator 04 Dec 07 - 07:10 PM
Jack Blandiver 05 Dec 07 - 04:38 AM
Jack Blandiver 05 Dec 07 - 04:58 AM
GUEST,Edthefolkie 05 Dec 07 - 06:19 AM
GUEST,The black belt caterpillar wrestler 05 Dec 07 - 07:48 AM
Jack Blandiver 11 Dec 07 - 12:34 PM
Les in Chorlton 11 Dec 07 - 01:18 PM
katlaughing 11 Dec 07 - 02:23 PM
Llanfair 12 Dec 07 - 04:21 AM
Mrs Scarecrow 12 Dec 07 - 04:41 PM
PoppaGator 13 Dec 07 - 12:39 PM
katlaughing 13 Dec 07 - 04:25 PM
Llanfair 14 Dec 07 - 04:08 AM
theleveller 14 Dec 07 - 05:16 AM
GUEST,CS 19 Nov 10 - 02:41 PM
Herga Kitty 19 Nov 10 - 02:48 PM
JHW 20 Nov 10 - 12:20 PM
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Subject: Folklore: Songs or the Winter Solstice
From: GUEST,abjb
Date: 28 Nov 07 - 12:59 PM

Does anyone have suggestions ro sngs to celebrate the Winter Solstice, preferably tunes that are not wassail oriented?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Songs or the Winter Solstice
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 28 Nov 07 - 01:13 PM

A great question, where are you, you "pagan roots of traditional music" people?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Songs or the Winter Solstice
From: ClaireBear
Date: 28 Nov 07 - 01:19 PM

There have as usual been plenty of previous threads on this subject. Here is one of them, and it has links to plenty of others at the top of the page.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Songs or the Winter Solstice
From: GUEST,TJ in San Diego
Date: 28 Nov 07 - 02:38 PM

Are we to expect a musical gathering at Stonehenge, to celebrate the appropriate rites? If you hold it, they will come...


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Songs or the Winter Solstice
From: GUEST,Tinker in Chicago
Date: 28 Nov 07 - 05:57 PM

Well, I wrote one but I don't sing it much, me being a Baptist and all. It's called, logically enough, "Solstice Song" and you can find a musical snippet of it on http://www.mollyandthetinker.com/CatalogItem.asp?ID=9.
(It's on the "Best Of, Volume One" album.)


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Songs or the Winter Solstice
From: Jack Campin
Date: 28 Nov 07 - 07:20 PM

There is a genre of "carols to the Unconquerable Sun" in Romania, which seems to be a survival from the festival of Sol Invictis in pagan Rome. Google draws a blank, try a good music encyclopaedia. I've heard a few - lots of furious rhythmic stomping.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Songs or the Winter Solstice
From: oldhippie
Date: 28 Nov 07 - 07:22 PM

"Chant For The Seasons" by Mark Belletini


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Songs for the Winter Solstice
From: katlaughing
Date: 28 Nov 07 - 10:20 PM

That's a very nice song, "Tinker in Chicago." Thanks for the link. I was confused for a minute, wondering when our member with the name of "Tinker" went to Chicago AND turned Baptist!*smile*

You might also want to look into another member's CD, that is a new one by her women's chorus, "Animaterra" available HERE.

There are also some songs available on tapes and CDs by the women's group, "Libana." Click Here for samples.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Songs for the Winter Solstice
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 29 Nov 07 - 04:05 AM

Try Woven Wheat Whispers


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Songs for the Winter Solstice
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 29 Nov 07 - 09:44 AM

Their is a Winter Solstice - without a doubt. The interesting question is do any traditional English songs refer to it?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Songs for the Winter Solstice
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 29 Nov 07 - 10:00 AM

Might the Winter Solstice be found in the line 'The rising of the sun and the running of the deer?' A lot of Neo-Pagans certainly seem to think so, but much of our actual traditional (i.e non-religious) lore defaults to the cross-quarter axis from which we get Hallowe'en & May Eve / May Day. Maybe because winter generally kicks off big time once we pass the solstice - at least it used to...


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Songs for the Winter Solstice
From: katlaughing
Date: 29 Nov 07 - 10:16 AM

Sedayne, thanks for the Woven Wheat Whispers link! Wow, really enjoying listening to selections, right now to the "All Souls Arise" CD. Some really nice stuff on there!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Songs for the Winter Solstice
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 29 Nov 07 - 11:20 AM

"Might the Winter Solstice be found in the line 'The rising of the sun and the running of the deer?' A lot of Neo-Pagans certainly seem to think so,"

Interesting but not actually evidence


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Songs for the Winter Solstice
From: AllisonA(Animaterra)
Date: 29 Nov 07 - 12:50 PM

Thanks, Kat!


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Subject: ADD: Solstice Carol (Sarah Morgan)
From: Saro
Date: 29 Nov 07 - 01:42 PM

Here's a song that I've used - words are my own, and I use the shape note hymn New Jerusalem as the musical setting. Best if you can find three other people to sing it with you!!
Saro

SOLSTICE CAROL
Words: © Sarah Morgan
Music: Jeremiah Ingalls New Jerusalem)


Now is the midnight of the year
When darkness lingers long
The winter solstice we'll salute
With fire and feast and song

The King of Winter mounts his throne
To rule the conquered land
He sends the frost and bitter wind
To chill the heart and hand

Now all with wallets richly lined
And food and fuel to spare
You must provide for those in need
That all the feast may share


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Subject: RE: Songs for the Winter Solstice
From: lefthanded guitar
Date: 29 Nov 07 - 02:46 PM

Northern Girl
by Cheryl Wheeler.


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Subject: ADD: Ring Out, Solstice Bells (Ian Anderson)
From: Long Firm Freddie
Date: 29 Nov 07 - 02:54 PM

There's this from Jethro Tull's Songs From the Wood album:

RING OUT, SOLSTICE BELLS
(Ian Anderson)

Now is the solstice of the year,
winter is the glad song that you hear.
Seven maids move in seven time.
Have the lads up ready in a line.
Ring out these bells.
Ring out, ring solstice bells.
Ring solstice bells.

Join together beneath the mistletoe.
By the holy oak whereon it grows.
Seven druids dance in seven time.
Sing the song the bells call, loudly chiming.
Ring out these bells.
Ring out, ring solstice bells.
Ring solstice bells.

Praise be to the distant sister sun,
joyful as the silver planets run.
Seven maids move in seven time.
Sing the song the bells call, loudly chiming.
Ring out those bells.
Ring out, ring solstice bells.
Ring solstice bells.
Ring on, ring out.
Ring on, ring out.

LFF


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Subject: RE: Songs for the Winter Solstice
From: GUEST,Songster Bob
Date: 29 Nov 07 - 03:09 PM

How about "Bold Orion?" I can't recall who wrote it off the top of my slowly-balding head, but it definitely fits the topic.

Bob


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Subject: RE: Songs for the Winter Solstice
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 30 Nov 07 - 03:39 AM

You might think that with all that merry maying and bringing in sheep, barley and so on the old Winter Solstice might have got a look in with the odd song.

Is the English Tradition completely bereft of WS songs?


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Subject: RE: Songs for the Winter Solstice
From: Anne Lister
Date: 30 Nov 07 - 12:07 PM

As in the other thread, I'll plug my own two songs - "Midwinter" and "Dance with the Dragon".

As to the English tradition, I suspect that quite a few Christmas songs are solstice songs masquerading .... a friend of mine whose family has preserved a lot of traditional lore (but whose family is not Christian) is very happy with the mythic child born at midwinter concept (hence my song)as this ties in with the stories they have always told about the sequence of the year.   Their stories do not connect at other Christian festivals, but the imagery is identical for Christmas and the solstice. This may not be "evidence", but my guess is that a number of the older pagan traditions were simply taken over by the whole Christmas bandwagon.

The oral trad is always difficult to pin down in terms of hard evidence, of course.

Anne


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Subject: RE: Songs for the Winter Solstice
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 30 Nov 07 - 01:22 PM

Anne,

"I suspect that quite a few Christmas songs are solstice songs masquerading"

Lots of people suspect but they almost never give any reason based in history.

"is very happy with the mythic child born at midwinter concept"
What does this mean?

"but my guess is that a number of the older pagan traditions were simply taken over by the whole Christmas bandwagon."

Lots of people believe this and as a generalisation it has some substance. But just because people find things plausible it doesn't make them true.

People have been perpetrating the idea that Morris Dancing has pagan origins or is wrapped up with getting crops to grow or fertility - take your pick. The only evidence seems to be people saying it was so for about a hundred years.The hard historical evidence identifies Morris coming from courtly dancing, escaping and running wild in the English countryside - quite an exciting idea in its own right?

I guess I am becoming an unpleasant, factiod bore and I should leave myth makers alone. I have to go it's time to wave a candle at the evil boggarts of winter

Cheers

Les

ps nobody would be more pleased than me if someone had come up with a genuine traditional winter solstice song.


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Subject: RE: Songs for the Winter Solstice
From: PoppaGator
Date: 30 Nov 07 - 02:25 PM

I'm pretty sure that the very familiar "Deck the Halls" is a Yuletide carol, with no specific referecnces to Christmas or indeed to any non-pagan values.

Unless there are more verses than the ones I know about...


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Subject: RE: Songs for the Winter Solstice
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 30 Nov 07 - 04:09 PM

Intresin ....... What do you know about "Yuletide" then PoppaGator


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Subject: RE: Songs for the Winter Solstice
From: PoppaGator
Date: 30 Nov 07 - 04:22 PM

How much time you got?

I don't have much right now.

Suffice it to say that, to my knowledge, "Yule" is far more ancient than "Christmas," and refers to celebration of the winter solstice. The yule log, decoration of indoor spaces with winter greenery (i.e., evergreen boughs and wreaths, etc.), and other seasonal customs (e.g., feasting, copious drinking, the business with mistletoe, etc.) all date back to the pre-Christian celebrations that the Church co-opted when arbitarily assigning a midwinter date as the supposed birthday of Christ.


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Subject: RE: Songs for the Winter Solstice
From: Anne Lister
Date: 30 Nov 07 - 04:48 PM

Les, if a tradition is oral it means it's passed down from person to person, and not written down. This is why you are unlikely to get evidence "based in history", whatever that means. Yes, it means (sadly) that a lot of people make a lot of claims which may not be substantiated and maybe shouldn't be, but a lot of what you might like to see in printed form will simply not be there.

What I mean by the "mythic child born at midwinter" is, quite simply, that there are numerous myths involving a child born at midwinter. There is of course the Mithraic tale, which has given rise to a lot of Christian imagery, and Greek myths involving Perseus, but there are also tales (in the case of the ones I'm thinking of, tales in the oral tradition kept alive in my friend's family - not in print) of King Arthur. These aren't the only ones but they're the ones which spring readily to mind on a cold damp Friday evening after a hard week. It means specifically, in my friend's case, that she's more than happy to sing any song referring to the midwinter child and sees no conflict with her own traditions. Now, as a lot of the Christmas story is known not to be true, hard history but a lot of mythic elements joined together to make a good tale I see no reason (or evidence based in history)to think that the many songs we associate with Christmas MUST be talking about the Christian celebration.

I have absolutely no point of view on the origins of Morris, so that's a bit of a red herring. Older traditions which WERE taken on by the Christians include bringing in greenery to decorate the houses, the use of holly specifically, the Yule log and the whole jollity aspect. My evidence for this? You could start with the way much of this was frowned on by the Puritans who based their practices on a more literal study of the bible.

Try googling "the true date of Christmas" for an assortment of opinions on when Jesus was *really* born, and for a collection of dates (I'm assuming at least some of them are facts)on which various older traditions became associated with the Christian celebration of the birth - which came quite some time after the establishment of the early church.

But by all means hang on to your factoids, if that makes you feel happier. There's no way I know to prove the age of a traditional story (or song - or custom) - all you can ever do is prove the earliest time it appeared in print, or was recorded as having taken place. Which doesn't necessarily get you very far.

Anne


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Subject: RE: Songs for the Winter Solstice
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 30 Nov 07 - 06:39 PM

All quaintly Frazerian, Tabster - however, it would seem far more likely that the Puritans were reacting against frivolity per se rather than any conjectured provenance of any particular 'custom'. Thus 'pagan' is the rougher / ruder / licentious aspects of human behaviour, rather than the deliberate observance of 'older' traditions / rituals / beliefs that we might think of today.

Mythic analogue is not to be taken as evidence of derivation as such, rather of morphological resonance given that such things are (generally) pretty well defined, as in the case of The Christmas Story as found in both the Gospels & the various apocryphal / folkloric sources.   

Interesting that The Cherry Tree Carol gives January 6th as Christ's birthday - a purposeful reaction against the Catholic Gregorian Calendar perhaps? I wonder, does anyone still celebrate Christmas on this day? On second thoughts, don't answer that...

Anyway, here's a double-bill of Batman on BBC4, featuring the late, great Burgess Meredith; the perfect thing for eve of Advent. Joy to you all!


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Subject: ADD: The Woodcutter's Song
From: GUEST,hg
Date: 01 Dec 07 - 12:40 AM

THE WOODCUTTER'S SONG

Oak logs will warm you well
That are old and dry
Logs of pine will sweetly smell
But the sparks will fly
Birch logs will burn too fast
And chestnut scarce at all, sir
Hawthorne logs are good to last
That are cut well in the fall, sir

Surely you will find
No compare in the hardwood logs
Cut in the winter time

Holly logs will burn like wax
You could burn them green
Elm logs burn like smolderin flax
With no flame to be seen
Beech logs for winter time
Yew logs as well, sir
Green elder logs it is a crime
For any man to sell, sir

Surely you will find
No compare in the hardwood logs
Cut in the winter time

Pear logs and apple logs
They will scent your room
And cherry logs across the dogs
Smell like flowers a bloom
But ash logs smooth and gray
Buy them green or old, sir
And buy up all that come your way
For they're worth their weight in gold sir^^^

[added to the Digital Tradition in 2000 (click)]


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Subject: ADD: The Holly Tree (actual title unknown)
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 01 Dec 07 - 04:48 AM

We've just recorded a version of that (The Woodcutter's Snog) (typo, but I quite like it so I'll leave it in...) for Folkcast's Festive Selection box which goes on line on line on December 15th...

For the record, the above text is taken from Robin Williamson, who added the chorus and the 'Sirs' - otherwise it comes wholesale from a footnote on page 19 of The White Goddess by Robert Graves.

For the chorus we've used something often associated with the poem which runs thus:

Logs to burn, logs to burn,
Logs to save the coals a turn;
Here's a word to make you wise
when you hear the woodsman cry;
Logs to burn, logs to burn,
Longs to save the coals a turn.

Is this traditional? I personally doubt it, but it fits the scheme somehow. As for the tune, in the absence of any other I wrote one myself, though for the life of me I could rid myself of Robin's 'Sirs'!

Logs to Burn thread


And talking of Holly, and Ivy, and Advent - & seeing today (according to the met office) is the first day of winter, I offer the following, as collected by that emininent folklorist Colonel Killingworth-James from those 'rough, black-faced mummers' he encountered in the village of Quaking Houses, County Durham, circa 1887:
^^

The holly tree, the holly, that bears the crown of blood;
the ivy, oh the ivy that green shines in the wood.
Oh, the cutty wren was killed again, the cutty wren was slain;
who held the knife to take its life all in the darkwood then?

The holly tree, the holly, that bears the crown so bright;
the ivy, oh the ivy that shines though dark the night.
Oh, the wren was slain by four dark men who from the west did come;
they held the knife to take its life all in the darkwood then.

The holly tree, the holly, that bears the crown so pure;
the ivy, oh the ivy, green shines this night so sure.
Who were the men that killed the wren? Who are they that did come?
Who held the knife and took its life all in the darkwood then?

The holly tree, the holly, that bears the crown of peace;
the ivy, oh the ivy, green shines the white of ice.
The first that came held candle-flame to light the spring that night;
he held the knife to take its life all in the darkwood then.

The holly tree, the holly, that bears the crown of love;
the ivy, oh the ivy, around the oak has wove.
The second that came burst logs to flame by the flowering May bush then;
he held the knife to take its life all in the darkwood then.

The holly tree, the holly, that bears the crown of joy;
the ivy, oh the ivy, green this night to enjoy.
The third he came to the harvest then, to bring King Barleycorn down;
he held the knife to take its life all in the darkwood then.

The holly tree, the holly, that bears the crown of tears;
the ivy, oh the ivy, brighter shines as dawn nears.
The fourth set flame to winter then, his month brought fire and blood;
he held the knife to take its life all in the darkwood then.

The holly tree, the holly, that bears the crown of blood;
the ivy, oh the ivy that green shines in the wood.
Oh, the cutty wren was killed again, the cutty wren was slain;
we held the knife, we took its life all in the darkwood then.

(Note: A version of the above will available on Four Songs on the Fourth Day by those celebrated puveyors of darkly ceremonial folk Eleanor's Visceral Tomb - available entirely Gratis in the forthcoming update on Woven Wheat Whispers )


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Subject: RE: Songs for the Winter Solstice
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 01 Dec 07 - 04:50 AM

That should be page 169


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Subject: RE: Songs for the Winter Solstice
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 01 Dec 07 - 06:36 AM

Anne,

"There had been many converts to Christianity in England after Pope Gregory 1st had sent Augustine to Canterbury, to found a mission in 597AD. Edwin, then King of Northumbria, was not one of these converts, but remained and continued to practice his own pagan rites."

The Synod of Whitby around 664 is a fact. The Christains bringing their practise from Ireland through Scotland met up with Christians from Rome, via Canterbury, and came to some agreements to turn "Britain" into a Christian country.

But I guess you know this. At that time most people in this country would probably now be described as "Pagan". King Aurthur is almost certainly fiction.

People choose to believe all sorts of stuff on a personal level and it probably doesn't matter. At the heart of understanding what has happened years ago, ie History, is understanding the difference between fact and fiction.

Allowing for around a generation every 25 years that means since 700AD or BCE, 52 generations have come and gone. how much evidence of pagan practices have survived?

It seems that much of the current belief in pagan stuff comes from writers like Frazer refered to by Sedayne above.

It's worth pondering the Great Grandmother paradox:

We get one mother, two grandmothers, four great grandmothers 8 gg grandmothers, 16 ggg, 32 ggg .....

This means we have a vast heritage of people to whom we are related. Dose this lend itself to the passing on of coherent information or the continual mixing and re-interpreting of information through 52 or generations and millions of people?

But still we have no traditional songs of the Winter Solstice.

Wassail

Les Jones


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Subject: RE: Songs for the Winter Solstice
From: Anne Lister
Date: 01 Dec 07 - 11:12 AM

Dear Les and Sedayne

For you, Frazer. For me, nothing to do with "current pagan belief" but a representative from a family which, whatever your opinion of the matter might be, has preserved traditions for as many generations back as they can trace. You're still dependent on a written source while I'm very happy that there are indeed people alive today who have preserved a tradition. And I know one such. She would be amused to hear herself described as merely following current pagan belief but probably quite irritated to be patronised with the term "quaint" and I don't think she's ever read Frazer. I'll say again - because something doesn't exist in written form doesn't mean it doesn't and didn't exist. Because you've never met someone with this tradition doesn't mean no one exists who has it.

In terms of history, if only it was as simple as the difference between fact and fiction - any study of history will show you there are many shades of grey involved. For one example, the work currently being done by archaeologists like Francis Pryor who are discovering that the early history of these islands has been misunderstood for years.

Whether or not people in these islands considered themselves Christians or pagans has very little to do with all of this - I was referring specifically to the date of Christmas, which only a little research shows to be anything but historically factual. I'd be interested to see "hard factual evidence" that the use of greenery in the home, the use of holly and the use of the yule log came from any Christian teachings. As the birth of Jesus was almost certainly not in December and the date for Christmas was chosen because of the various festivities it could be associated with there is a lot about our current Christmas holiday which has anything but Christian roots. And yes, this was what the Puritans both in the UK and in the US were reacting to .... the jollity and general merriment were not necessarily connected with the birth of Jesus. So where did they come from?   Please supply historical facts to let me know, as there's nothing in the Gospels to explain much of it.

Again, the factual nature (or not) of King Arthur has very little to do with anything. I'm not sure what facts there are surrounding Mithras as an actual historical character, or Perseus. However I think most people would agree that the Mithraic cult and the tales of Perseus predate the Gospels. King Arthur probably doesn't, (who knows for sure?) but the stories pick up on similar themes.

As to the existence of traditional songs from the solstice, my whole point is that it's very difficult to know where one tradition begins and another ends. There aren't too many traditional Christmas carols, when it comes down to it, either.

Anne


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Subject: RE: Songs for the Winter Solstice
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 01 Dec 07 - 12:21 PM

Anne,

" a representative from a family which, whatever your opinion of the matter might be, has preserved traditions for as many generations back as they can trace."


I think I have lost my way here. Their are somethings about "Christmas" that doesn't seem to have much to do with Jesus. I don't doubt that but 13 Centuries of Christianity seem to have rolled the pagans flat.

The water has been seriously muddied by more recent writers saying all kinds of things which have been repeated by people with vivid imaginations and little respect for scholarship.

This thread was about "Songs for the Winter Solstice" as far as I can tell none have come from the English tradition of songs.


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Subject: RE: Songs for the Winter Solstice
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 01 Dec 07 - 12:26 PM

Jollity & General Merriment are part & parcel of human nature; as are the tendencies towards sinful behaviour & licentiousness - so not so much Traditional, rather defining attributes, if you like, of our humanity and one which The Christian Church, for obvious reasons, was wary of in its move towards the establishment of a civilised & educated feudal social order (minority) & a passive docile peasantry (majority) to make this at all possible.

We see this such licentious Jollity & General Merrymaking on the streets of Blackpool & the Bigg Market in Newcastle on a nightly basis; Stag & Hen nights run amok with the virgin bride bedecked in emblems of fertility... But a pagan survival, or just something humanity is disposed to do at an instinctive level?

This is a crucial point in our understanding & interpretation of Folk Lore & Custom as being either superstition of lost significance OR just a bunch of stuff that people do year in year out, or not, as the case may be. Think of the wayside Floral Shrines; unseen a decade ago, they are now as common a feature of the British Highway as the speed camera.

The search for archaic meaning in folklore is a commonplace though somewhat anachronistic practise; ask anyone about the 'meaning' of the nursery rhyme 'Ring-a-Roses' and the chances are they'll tell you it's a reportage on the symptoms of the Black Death; ask anyone about The Green Man, and chances are they'll tell you he's a pagan god of the wildwood. In both cases there's no evidence, folkloric, written or otherwise, so support such notions, but still they persist as that new category of superstition - the popular 'mythconception'.

The decoration of the home with available evergreens seems a natural enough impulse without it having to be derived from pagan practices as such, nor yet to carry any sort of symbolic meaning above and beyond the immediate significance of doing such a thing. Words endure like Yule & Easter, of undoubted pre-Christian origin, but that's etymology; like folkoric practise, their true & actual meanings are determined solely by the pragmatics of usage.


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Subject: RE: Songs for the Winter Solstice
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 01 Dec 07 - 12:49 PM

Thanks Sedayne, much sense I'd say.


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Subject: RE: Songs for the Winter Solstice
From: Susan B
Date: 01 Dec 07 - 01:35 PM

'January Man' by Dave Goulder (I think?). I know that it goes round the seasons, but midwinter seems the right time to sing it.
Susan B


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Subject: RE: Songs for the Winter Solstice
From: Ref
Date: 01 Dec 07 - 06:40 PM

Hey, Les! You really ought to consider that there is plenty of history about pre-Christian celebrations in European places other than England, and plenty of evidence that they were subsumed into "Christian" practices.

Many thanks to Saro for her lovely Solstice Carol. A brief stroll through ITunes provides several versions of the tune.


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Subject: RE: Songs for the Winter Solstice
From: Anne Lister
Date: 01 Dec 07 - 07:15 PM

I've been checking ... bringing greenery into the church and into the home was encouraged by Pope Gregory, as a way of getting people into the churches who would otherwise have been doing their own celebrations (of whatever kind) in the countryside.

You've lost your way, Les? There is a lot about Christmas that has nothing to do with the Bible or Christians, yes. Why do you assume that the pagans were "rolled flat"? Time passes, yes, but some traditions get passed on. Your own family may not have carried the old stuff forward, but why assume that no families did? I know one family that did, which encourages me to assume there may well be others. I don't suppose for a minute they're members of Mudcat, though, nor do I suppose they care a lot whether you believe in their existence or not.

Jollity is indeed part of human nature, Sedayne, but a little study of the Puritans will tell you that they were basing their view of Christianity on a stricter reading of the Bible. They were the "fundamentalists" of their time, and keen to eradicate any form of sedition, perceived or actual. They weren't popular, but for a short period of our history they were powerful. Bringing greenery into a church or a house and burning a Yule log aren't really in the same order of sedition as drunken stag parties, so if they stomped on those aspects of the winter celebrations it seems less likely that this was because of rioting in the streets and more likely that they were trying to get back to a more rigid view of Christian teachings. Did they manage to stop it all over the country? Highly doubtful. Was everyone in the country a committed and devout Christian? Highly doubtful too, although over the centuries there has been an insistence on church going, which might make you think that everyone was therefore a Christian and had given up on any other practice.

Both of you continue to drag in red herrings. I'm not talking about the Green Man, nor am I talking about nursery rhymes. All I've been saying, from the start, is that if you're looking for English traditional songs about the winter solstice it will be difficult, if not impossible to find them because such songs as might have existed will almost certainly have been transferred to the bigger, more generally accepted celebration of Christmas. Songs which we do have which bring in elements which are not part of the Bible story of the birth of Jesus (such as holly and ivy) may well be preserving elements of an older view of the midwinter festival. It is all supposition, but it seems to me that if you're trying to knock down any idea that there could be any such thing as a traditional English song for the winter solstice, I don't think you can make that assumption from the lack of printed sources. I'm puzzled about why both Les and Sedayne feel they have to belittle what I'm saying. Absence of printed evidence does not mean absence of existence.

Thassorl.

Anne


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Subject: RE: Songs for the Winter Solstice
From: katlaughing
Date: 01 Dec 07 - 07:47 PM

Well said, Anne. Thank you.


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Subject: RE: Songs for the Winter Solstice
From: kytrad (Jean Ritchie)
Date: 01 Dec 07 - 08:44 PM

Wintergrace

This is the time so well we love,
The time of all the year
When winter calls with chilling breath
For fireside and good cheer.
A time for man and beast to stand
And feel the season turn;
To watch the stars for secret signs
And God's true lessons learn.

For the time.....When the corn is all into the barn,
                The old cow's breath's a frosty wine
                And the morn across the fallow field
                Doth silver shine.

And when cold morning's radiant star
Shines over hill and plain,
We know anew, that little Babe
Is born to us again...
And man and beast and bird and tree-
Each one in his own place
We bow our hearts and thank our gods
For winter rest and grace.

For the time.....When the corn is all into the barn,
                The Old cow's breath's a frosty wine
                And the morn across the fallow field
                Doth silver shine.
                      Jean Ritchie (Geordie Music Publishing Co.)
(Written about 1965 or so, in memory of my childhood in our farming family who loved the snow and cold because they gave resting time to
folks- we looked on winter as a time of grace for us)


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Subject: RE: Songs for the Winter Solstice
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 02 Dec 07 - 04:40 AM

Anne,

"Why do you assume that the pagans were "rolled flat"? "

Simply because all most nothing remains of what people did or believed in 8C England, you said it yourself:

"if you're looking for English traditional songs about the winter solstice it will be difficult, if not impossible to find them"

It seems to be the case.


"because such songs as might have existed will almost certainly have been transferred to the bigger, more generally accepted celebration of Christmas."

I accept the argument that the Christians placed some of the practices   on top of pre-christian practices to replace them. They have been doing this for 13 odd centuries. In the meantime the Church has used its power to organise the life of working people, no doubt some people would say this was for the best. The struggles over religious practice , certainly since the Reformation, have been between different versions of Christianity, not some long term attempt to suppress paganism.

As for the Oral Tradition I have been enjoying the songs that have been passed on this way for 40 odd years. Many of them have their origins in the 19C some in the 18C and some a bit further back. Not much of anything remains from earlier times.

If people wish to believe they are part of a tradition that goes back a lot further it's none of my business really. If they want to tell us what it is and why they think it is very old then lets have a discussion.

One of the things I got from reading about customs and so on was that, from my perspective in a more secular time, I had no real understanding of how powerful the Church was until quite recently. Before the Industrial Revolution most people lived on and from the Land and the Church organised much of public life - when did people get Holidays?

OK I am rambling on and on again. We don't celebrate the Winter Solstice we "celebrate" a dubious version of the birth of Jesus, with bits about cold winter added on because we are imaginative people.

Ref'

"You really ought to consider that there is plenty of history about pre-Christian celebrations in European places other than England, and plenty of evidence that they were subsumed into "Christian" practices."

If you have hard evidence please tell.


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Subject: RE: Songs for the Winter Solstice
From: oombanjo
Date: 02 Dec 07 - 05:43 AM

Not strict but I like this one/......................................
How pleasant in winter to sit by the hob
Listening to the sounds and the bark of a dog
Or in summer to wander the wide valleys through
And to pick the wild flowers in the May morning dew

Summer is coming, Oh, Summer is near
With the leaves on the trees and the sky blue and clear
And the small birds are singing their fond notes so true
And the wild flowers are springing in the May morning dew

The house I was born in is but a stone on a stone
And all round the garden the weeds they have grown
And all the fine neighbours that ever I knew
Like the red rose have perished in the May morning dew.

God be with the old folk, they are all dead and gone
And likewise my brothers, young Denis and John
As we tripped thrugh the heather, wild hares to pursue
Our joys they did mingle in the May morning dew. Its my May song but it leads me to think on what's yet to come.


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Subject: RE: Songs for the Winter Solstice
From: Anne Lister
Date: 02 Dec 07 - 05:50 AM

Les -
First of all, why are you choosing the 8th century as the last time pagan practices took place? Are you really suggesting that because the Synod of Whitby happened, everyone in all parts of Britain suddenly conformed in their beliefs? It's certainly true that when church going was made obligatory, people went to church, but that's about all you can say with certainty. How do you begin to work out what people over all these years believed in? Of course we all know that these days no one drives without insurance or without a seat belt, because it's illegal to do so ....Yes, right. So it was compulsory to go to church and pay your tithes, and that made every single person a Christian?
Secondly, yes, most of our traditional songs go back no further than the 18th century as far as we can tell. And even from then, we have very few "Christmas" songs. Why are you expecting winter solstice songs to have fared better?
Thirdly - "If people wish to believe they are part of a tradition that goes back a lot further it's none of my business really. If they want to tell us what it is and why they think it is very old then lets have a discussion." Why do you use phrases like "wish to believe"? And what manner of discussion do you think you can contribute to with any degree of knowledge rather than opinion? The family I've been referring to don't need your seal of approval, nor do they have to justify why they think their traditions are very old. The stories and the practices they still have go back for at least five generations. They know (not believe) that it's an old tradition. I mentioned them in this discussion as an illustration that we really don't know the full picture of traditional stories, songs and practices even in this small archipelago. And why would we? What we know of traditional song and story is always dependent on whether a collector has been given the material by the holders of the relevant song or story. In this case, even if a collector had gone to the family to ask it's far from certain anyone would have wanted to tell them anything.
"New" old material surfaces from time to time, just as new archaeological discoveries result in changed views of those historical "facts" you appear to be so fond of.
And fourthly, "The struggles over religious practice , certainly since the Reformation, have been between different versions of Christianity, not some long term attempt to suppress paganism." What evidence do you have for this? It sounds far more like your opinion and interpretation than a matter of fact - and as "paganism" was often represented in terms of witches and covens from the 17th century onwards I think you might find the picture from the past is a lot more complex than your theory.

Anne


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Subject: RE: Songs for the Winter Solstice
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 02 Dec 07 - 06:57 AM

I choose the Synod of Whitby as a marker of the re-emergence of Christianity in these Islands. I don't think everybody changed overnight. I am trying to get some sense of historical time. I think, and historians can correct me, that most people were some kind of non-christian pagans at that time and that now almost nobody is. My reading of English history leads me to think that organised paganism had gone by the time the Normans arrived although bits and pieces have survived. Is any of this contentious?

"Why are you expecting winter solstice songs to have fared better?"

I don't, perhaps on this we agree?

OK "wish to believe" is patronising - believe would have been better and as I said it's none of my business. It cannot be otherwise since I do not know and you have not explained in any detail what it is they know or believe. I have no problem with that either.

"The struggles over religious practice , certainly since the Reformation, have been between different versions of Christianity, not some long term attempt to suppress paganism."

Evidence:

"The Stations of the Sun" Ronald Hutton, Oxford University Press, 1996. Probably the most extensive study of the ritual year in Britain. This is an absolutely fascinating study. 500 odd pages with extensive references and notes.

Guy Fawkes was burned for being a Catholic plotter against the Crown not for being a pagan and we are still doing it in Lewes every year.

Their is lots and lots of evidence for what people have been doing in Britain and how that has changed through time. The Church has been the biggest and almost always the only major player at least that what Hutton, a man who has studied this more than almost anyone else as far as I can tell.

"I think you might find the picture from the past is a lot more complex than your theory."

I don't have a theory. When people say things about the past that are unusual I simply ask why they believe it and what is the evidence.

A number of faiths are based on men getting information from god on stone tablets. They write this down in books and start religions. Lots of people believe these religions. Just because lots of people believe something it doesn't mean it's true.

I believe their is a living tradition of songs and tunes and odd bits of drama. When people say things about this living tradition I want to know if it is simply what they believe or it is based in something that we would all believe if we saw the evidence.


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Subject: RE: Songs for the Winter Solstice
From: Anne Lister
Date: 02 Dec 07 - 01:25 PM

Les, there's a whole other discussion to be had about Ron Hutton and "Stations of the Sun", which I've read - I've also met and discussed several aspects of this thread with Ron himself. He's an academic historian, not a folklorist and will only record stuff which has some form of written evidence to support it - he also puts his own interpretation on the "facts" which may or may not be trustworthy. I'm not sure how his book supports your more sweeping statement.
Guy Fawkes wasn't burnt for his Catholicism but because he was a 17th century terrorist, a mercenary who was part of the plot to blow up the king and government of the time.   Yes, there were burnings of people deemed to be heretics under both Catholic and Protestant rulers, but don't forget that in England witches were put to death and in Scotland they were burnt. Not just a question of the variety of Christianity they practised, you see. Not here in Wales, however....
"Organised" paganism is an interesting thought. I'm not sure how much it's ever been an organised religion in the way that other religions are organised - there are, for a start, many different varieties of pagan beliefs and traditions.   I'm also curious about the way you think the Synod of Whitby caused the "re-emergence" of Christianity in these islands. Melvin Bragg has written an interesting novel about those times, called "Credo" - you might find it an informing read.

However, it comes down to this: I've been repeatedly referring to a living tradition held within at least one family that I know. You haven't met them, clearly. You want to know if their knowledge of a living tradition is "simply what they believe" - whatever that means, or if it's based in something we would all believe if we saw the evidence - what evidence, Les?   How would you "see" it? It's a set of practices, stories and ways of seeing the way the world works. When Ron Hutton met my friend, all of us present were rendered utterly speechless by the rude and overbearing way he treated her. Others attempted to let him know that here was a person with a genuine living tradition in her family - he made no attempt to ask her any questions at all, just laughed and said she was "prime source material" and then went on saying that he would only ever deal with written evidence.

So the book you're relying on is written by a man who had the opportunity to question "the evidence" I'm talking about but who made no attempt to do so. You yourself are continuing to dispute what I'm saying and all I can work out about your objections is that you haven't come across it yourself and therefore don't think it can be right.

I'm happy enough to leave it there. It doesn't really matter to me whether or not you believe I have a friend who knows a lot of stuff that has never been written down (it's not a belief system, by the way - belief doesn't come into it). You have, however, come around to saying almost exactly what I started off saying about the reason why traditional winter solstice songs probably don't exist as such.

If you have any specific questions about my friend and her traditional knowledge, by all means pm me, but it's rather off topic for the thread title.

Anne


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Subject: RE: Songs for the Winter Solstice
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 02 Dec 07 - 01:48 PM

Anne,

in a sense this thread is closed in that no one has come up with a traditional Winter Solstice song.

But I do thing their is a general point to be made.

"He's an academic historian, not a folklorist and will only record stuff which has some form of written evidence to support it"

The most impressive thing about 'Stations of the Sun' is the sheer volume of evidence on which it calls. If we are to weigh that against your friends 5 generations of family tradition, with all the good will in the world, what are to we think?

The problem for folklorists is that until around 1970 they seemed to say all kinds of things with out any evidence at all, at all ... not even a number of generations with in a family.

He shouldn't be rude it simply spoils his argument but neither should we let it get in the way of what he says.


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Subject: RE: Songs for the Winter Solstice
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 02 Dec 07 - 02:33 PM

Tabster, sorry if I gave the impression I'm trying to belittle what you're saying - nothing could be further from the truth; I'm sure if we were having this discussion face to face it would prove a good deal less frustrating for all concerned! As a non-academic humanistic empiricist myself, I am wary of any level of objective / academic 'interpretation' (whatever stamp this might carry) beyond the thing itself. Reading what you've said above (especially with regard to Mr Hutton) I think, essentially, we're thinking along similar lines.

The interpretation of folkloric practise is a very different thing to the practise itself; those who analyse folklore do so from the position of Objective Outsider, rather than a Subjective Participant. Thus are lines of vested disparity drawn according to a dichotomy between the educated rational observer, and the uneducated rabble that are The Observed - those countless generations of lesser mortals who can't possibly know the 'true' Significance, Provenance or indeed Symbolic Meaning of the customs they have unwittingly perpetuated down the aeons.

That such goings on must have a 'true' Significance, Provenance or indeed Symbolic Meaning, is a supposition made by the academic folklorist who fails to appreciate the immediate significance of that which he / she observes. Academics (be they folklorists or historians) are, after all, rational human beings; staid, educated, disciplined, within a system of well-defined moral & social codes determining both their behaviour and their entire world view in which for every action there simply must be a functional purpose - a reason for doing so - and the more elaborate & complex that meaning, the better it is for all concerned.

I have no doubt whatsoever that pagans are still amongst us; I saw them last night whilst driving home to Lytham from a performance of the Vivaldi Gloria given by the Fleetwood Choral Society; the streets of Blackpool thronging with strapping lads and barely dressed young girls braving the sleeting rain as they queued outside the nightclubs and chip shops. Maybe a few of them were at Mass earlier on too; as contrite or as unrepentant as ever, but ultimately sincere in the humility of their devotions as they take communion without once questioning its significance - nor its provenance or 'symbolic' meaning for that matter because this is about as literal as it gets.

Finally, I am intrigued, if admittedly little sceptical, about these friends of yours. I guess I've been avoiding mentioning it as five generations is a long time for the survival of anything in modern British society. If such a family does indeed exist, and it is what you say it is, then they would be a cultural treasure beyond calculation. I would like to know a little more - indeed, as much as you, or your friends, are prepared to share...


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Subject: RE: Songs for the Winter Solstice
From: Anne Lister
Date: 03 Dec 07 - 02:44 AM

Les, I wish I could follow the way your mind works. There's no question of "weighing" the volume of written evidence in Ron Hutton's book against my friend's family living tradition - I can't imagine for the life of me what good that would do, even if it was possible, as you're not comparing like with like. It is, however, important when you read a book like "Stations of the Sun" to recognise that all it can record is written evidence, and that there are numerous traditions in everyday life that will never feature in such a book. One simple example is birthday cakes - anyone got any idea when the trad started or why? Even if you could pin down the very first written account of the cake or recipe for one it wouldn't tell you when the custom actually started. Written evidence only ever exists when the tradition in question either caused some civil or criminal disturbance or when it cost (normally public) money. The ordinary, everyday stuff doesn't feature. My friend's traditions are, as far as they're concerned, the ordinary, everyday stuff - more exotic to my mind than birthday cakes, but not to them. The dialogue with Hutton happened because a number of us were puzzled as to why he was adamant that the written evidence was somehow the whole story about traditions, and it clearly can't be. I understand the problem with authenticating oral traditions, but I can't understand his refusal to even ask detailed questions when he had the possibility of doing so.

Sedayne, I think we are using the word "pagan" with very different meanings. For me (and I think for most people who would use the word to describe themselves) it is all about an essential connectedness to the wider natural world, which rather rules out your chip shop and night club queues in Lytham St Anne's. As to your scepticism about my friend's family - quite honestly, it doesn't bother me at all either way. I know them, you don't. Simple as that. Am I going to discuss their traditions in detail on a public forum such as this? No - for the very good reason that it's not my family tradition to pass on. It has survived five generations by being passed down orally, and I would need permission from her family to (a) write it down and (b) pass it on. I could use legal terms like intellectual property, but it's mainly a question of ethics. I brought her family up in the first place to illustrate how we don't, actually, know the full story about traditional knowledge even on this small archipelago. Her family exists and other families might well do so too. Her family has no contact with or interest in folk music - her own line of business is high powered software solutions, incidentally - so it's unlikely that many Mudcatters would ever meet her.

If you have a specific question, feel free to pm me, but bear in mind I will also feel free not to answer it if I feel it goes beyond what I have a right to say.

Anne


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Subject: RE: Songs for the Winter Solstice
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 03 Dec 07 - 04:01 AM

Anne,

I don't know what your friends' family know so that's it really.

In the wider world of folk, folksong, folk custom, folklore call it what you will, people say all kinds of things about what has happened and what the origins might be. The more I read the more a find that a lot of assumptions have been made and endlessly repeated without much evidence.

That's it really


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Subject: RE: Songs for the Winter Solstice
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 03 Dec 07 - 04:47 AM

From my experience with Pagans (with a capital P!), the tenancy is to seize upon the canonical evidence with an unquestioning & fundamentalist zeal approaching that of the Puritans. As with many levels of so-called 'alternative society', the levels of righteousness, reaction & conformity are quite alarming to behold, especially given that the aforementioned canonical evidence is founded on the most bogus of sources.

I'm wary of the 'More Essentially Connected to the Natural World than Thou' attitude. We are all of us, bar none, essentially connected to the natural world by default; and the night-club revellers of Blackpool (you wouldn't get that sort of thing in Lytham St Anne's believe me!) are probably more connected than most, especially given their fearless and vigorous celebratory affinity and at-oneness with the very elements the Self-styled Pagans so preciously claim to revere.


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Subject: RE: Songs for the Winter Solstice
From: GUEST,hg
Date: 03 Dec 07 - 08:06 AM

kytrad, that is a lovely song although somewhat obscured on this thread by the contentious islanders!

Is it a dulcimer song and where can I hear the melody? thanks...How are you and your family, btw?

harpgirl


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Subject: RE: Songs for the Winter Solstice
From: katlaughing
Date: 03 Dec 07 - 10:10 AM

It is a beautiful song, kytrad. Thanks for posting it.

Just for the record, my family has a very specific story, made up by my paternal grandfather to tell my dad as a little boy, which is now being passed down to the fourth generation. I have no doubt it will also be shared with the fifth when it gets here. A handful of people, outside the family, have heard it. When I include it in my dad's oral history book, a few more people may read it, but the written version will obviously not be from the point of its origin.

kat


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Subject: RE: Songs for the Winter Solstice
From: Anne Lister
Date: 03 Dec 07 - 03:22 PM

Sedayne, it's not a question of taking any kind of high ground, moral or otherwise. I don't understand why both you and Les seem to take almost everything I write as a challenge or an affront - the term pagan is usually a reference to someone's spirituality, religious beliefs or practices. It is usually defined in opposition to organised religions such as Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Jainism, Hinduism etc. I have met a number of pagans (self-styled, perhaps, but why not? Most Christians, Jews, Moslems etc are also "self styled") and met a remarkably low amount of conformity or unquestioning fundamentalism. There are many different pagan groups or "paths", some of which have very little in common with others. However, reverence for nature and all aspects of the earth tend to be where there is a degree of common thought - whereas most organised religions are centred on a notion of the human relationship with a deity or several deities. Not much to do with revelling youngsters out on the tiles as far as I can see.

As it's obvious we both have a very different idea of what the word means it's probably best to call a halt to a totally pointless discussion.

But my own parting shot is simply that I'm still astonished by the level of generalisations made by both you and Les. Because some people make unsubstantiated claims about the authenticity of their traditions doesn't mean that all claims of authentic family traditions are fake, exaggerated or daft. I'm not any kind of a gullible fool and the friend I've been referring to throughout isn't either - nor is she, you will note, attempting to "cash in" on her traditions or convert others to them. Have the humility to recognise, as I have done, that there could be a far more fascinating and complex variety of traditions in these islands than you might have thought up until now.

I'll be seeing my friend at the weekend and I dare say she'll find all of this as silly as I do. Two people I've never met except on line doubting the existence and veracity of someone I've known well for over fifteen years ... I wonder who I'm more likely to take seriously?

Anne


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Subject: RE: Songs for the Winter Solstice
From: Fidjit
Date: 03 Dec 07 - 04:01 PM

Les. (and oters) Nice thread. Makes you wonder.

And I wonder if there was anything coming from the, "Troubadours of France"?

Wasn't there an Elanor who was some(of course she was) one's mother in the English court. Dunno what century though.

Chas

ps.
We just did our first "Christmas Carolling" of the year on Sunday.


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Subject: RE: Songs for the Winter Solstice
From: Anne Lister
Date: 03 Dec 07 - 05:01 PM

Eleanor of Aquitaine, aka Alienor, was married to Henry II and mother to several royals. But no connection to songs about the Winter Solstice as far as I'm aware. The troubadours, strictly speaking, were from her father's court in south western France although they continued for a while longer, historically speaking, and they wrote art songs primarily about love.   That's a whole different discussion!

Anne


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Subject: RE: Songs for the Winter Solstice
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 04 Dec 07 - 10:33 AM

Figit - The Troubadours were primarily associated with the Languedoc & there are evident cultural & spiritual links with The Cathars
, who flourished in the region at the same time, until they were purged by the Albigensian Crusade. There are some very fine Troubadour lyrics concerning the desolations of Winter, such as Jaufre Rudel's Lancan li Jorn , though the whole notion of The Winter Solstice would appear to be as much of a red herring as the rest of Modern Paganism.

Tabster - It is you who are doing the belittling here; never once have I taken any sort of affront to anything you've written. Forgive my wary cynicism about your friends, but it was you who brought them into it & I'm sure I'm not alone in finding the notion of a family preserving some and ancient & hitherto uncollected lore a tad fantastical. It is fantastical, very fantastical, but never once have I doubted their existence. I think if you bring something like this into a discussion, then at least you should be prepared to back it up with some real meat, otherwise, why bother mentioning them in the first place?

Meanwhile, I'm off to consult my Green Man Oracle cards, thus seeking the Revelation of the Ancient Inner Tradition we carry within us all - at least those of us who are fortunate to be part of that Enlightened Elite who might think of themselves as the True Bearers of that Ancient Inner Tradition.

And as I thread the Inner Winter-Woodland Path, lo, the Green Man appears before me and saith:

In Winter-time, I danced alone and felt the growing cold:
and lighting fires from fallen trees, I warmed my dying soul.

In comes I my face so Green;all Holly-Bright and Ivy-Shine
My dance is cast by valley and hill; I dance this way in winter still:
bare black trees and frost hard earth await my touch and vibrant breath.
Green my sign this winter long; seek ye that glad and ancient song
that's sung before this frost cold death; follow my voice by the bright Green Wreath.
All Holly-Bright and Ivy-Shine: Holly Crown bright blood-red of the wine.
So let faith not be failing now dark cold is here; for She is a-weaving as Springtime draws near.

I saw the Sun, reborn again, melt through the Winter Song;
And drank afresh from Holy Streams, swollen with the thaw.

And I reply:

Anyone fancy a pint?


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Subject: RE: Songs for the Winter Solstice
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 04 Dec 07 - 10:36 AM

That should be Winter Snow, not Winter Song


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Subject: RE: Songs for the Winter Solstice
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 04 Dec 07 - 10:37 AM

Timothy Taylor Landlord, in the Beech tomorrow 5th December


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Subject: RE: Songs for the Winter Solstice
From: katlaughing
Date: 04 Dec 07 - 10:43 AM

*sniffs* I detect some colossal prejudice and arrogance not even worth responding to in Sedayne's last posting.


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Subject: RE: Songs for the Winter Solstice
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 04 Dec 07 - 11:20 AM

Love Landlord, Les; and keep laughing, Kat - I was just trying to inject a little goodwill into proceedings, and failing, obviously - ho hum. I'll get my coat...


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Subject: RE: Songs for the Winter Solstice
From: Anne Lister
Date: 04 Dec 07 - 12:39 PM

Sedayne, I have said several times why I brought my friend into this discussion as an example and I have also explained fully why I'm not prepared to give full details of any of her family trads. I have offered you the chance to ask me more searching questions by pm, which neither you nor Les has chosen to do. As I haven't been impressed so far by your ability to continue any kind of informed discussion I'm not overly optimistic about how much value this would be anyway. I don't know why you find the idea of some hitherto unknown British traditions fantastical - we only know anything about any traditions because collectors have collected them, and I simply don't accept that collectors have visited every corner of the British Isles, or spoken to every family. I've never received a visit from one myself - have you? However, see my posts above with regard to Prof Ron Hutton, who met my friend but didn't ask one single question. I was present at this meeting and couldn't believe that someone who had taken the time to collect all of that written evidence clearly wasn't even slightly interested in a family who were, as you put it earlier, a cultural treasure of great price.

The reason I find your posts hostile (as well as most of Les's) is that you have both found it necessary to challenge every single thing I've said, mostly by bringing in all manner of totally spurious comparisons and generally poured cold water on most of what I've put forward. Why not keep an open mind? And I can only assume you were frightened in your cradle by a pagan, judging by the way you've been reacting.

As someone who has made an in-depth study (degree and postgrad) of the troubadours, however, I'd love to see your evidence for their cultural and spiritual links with the Cathars. Chapter and verse, please, and in the original occitan rather than second-hand views from commenting authors. No, of course there are no links with paganism (ancient or modern) or the winter solstice, but the links with the Cathars are very much a debatable territory (much loved by readers of authors like Dan Brown).

Anne


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Subject: RE: Songs for the Winter Solstice
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 04 Dec 07 - 01:22 PM

Sorry, Tabster - As you might have gathered I'm not an academic, more of proletarian reveller on the fringes of anything so much as resembling scholarship; maybe I should have pointed this out with a footnote? Instead of 'evident' I should have said 'conjectured' - my apologies for any confusion this may have caused.

As for the conjecture... Are you familiar with Yves Rouquette at all? From what I can gather he's something of an authority on both the Cathars & Troubadours - he did the Vida / Razos recitations on the old Clemencic Consort albums. I must confess all this gets mixed up in my head rather, along with those awful books by Arthur Guirdham (The Cathars & Reincarnation, Great Heresy etc.) which I read in my youth, along with a novel called 'A Note that Breaks the Silence' by Adam John Munthe, quoted liberally in Martin Best's performances of the songs of Guiraut Riquier (which yielded the Last of the Troubadours album), which certainly gave the impression that he had sympathies with the plight of the Cathars, if not their cause, and had further links to the court of Alfonso X, who was responsible for Cantigas de Santa Maria. The whole Gnostic / Troubadour thing has been seeping into my soul for more years than I care to remember - I still love what Clemencic & Zosso did on those old albums, no matter how derided they were at the time, and since if it comes to that, by those who might question such a liberally modernistic approach to what has since become a particularly post-modern issue.


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Subject: RE: Songs for the Winter Solstice
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 04 Dec 07 - 01:27 PM

Contending hypotheses, Id say. I went to watch Man U play Fulham last night, very confusing for a Man City fan.

Ronaldo got 2 good ones then seemed to be knocked over by the keeper on his way to number 3. 75,000 people saw it. A number of contending views have been expressed.


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Subject: Lyr Add: HOT BUTTERED RUM (Tommy Thompson)
From: topical tom
Date: 04 Dec 07 - 02:33 PM

This is one of my all-time favourite songs of Wintertime:


                                     HOT BUTTERED RUM was written by Tommy Thompson the long time heart and soul of the Red Clay Ramblers out of Chapel Hill, NC. It first appeared on their album "Chuckin' The Frizz" released by Flying Fish in 1979. That version is the same as the one sung by Bryan Bowers. It is essentially the lyrics reported above, however there are several errors so I will retype it below as it appears on the liner notes to the album. The Ramblers recroded it again on their "Rambler" CD, and Tommy made some slight changes to the last verse. I have included that also. The last I heard, Tommy Thompson was living in Carrboro, NC and suffering from a severe case of Alzheimer's disease.

HOT BUTTERED RUM
(Tommy Thompson)

When chimney smoke hangs still and low
Across the stubble - fields of snow
And angry skies reach down to seize
The sorry blackened bones of trees
In the dead of winter when the silent snowbirds come
You're my sweet maple sugar, honey
Hot buttered rum

When dreary Christmas decorations
Line the streets and filling stations
And dimestore Santas can't disguise
Their empty hands and empty eyes
In the dead of winter
When the tinsel angels come
You're my sweet maple sugar, honey
Hot buttered rum

When gloves and boots and woolen parkas
Bring cold comfort to the heart
And bitter memories freeze the tongue
And songs of love are left unsung
In the dead of winter
When those cold feelings come
You're my sweet maple sugar, honey
Hot buttered rum

(revised last verse)
When burning embers in the darkness
Bring cold comfort to the heart
And bitter memories freeze the tongue
And songs of love are left unsung
In the dead of winter
If springtime never comes
You're my sweet maple sugar, honey
Hot buttered rum

rich r


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Subject: RE: Songs for the Winter Solstice
From: katlaughing
Date: 04 Dec 07 - 04:21 PM

Great song, rich, thanks!


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Subject: RE: Songs for the Winter Solstice
From: GUEST,The Back belt caterpillar wrestler
Date: 04 Dec 07 - 05:49 PM

I've been trying, and failing, to look up the words of "The Ivy and the Holly" that John Kirkpatrick sings (not the Kipper song) to see if that has any relevance here. JK once declared that it was sung at Boudacia's wedding!


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Subject: RE: Songs for the Winter Solstice
From: PoppaGator
Date: 04 Dec 07 - 07:10 PM

I've said it before and I'll say it again: at least one popular "Christmas Carol" ~ to wit, "Deck the Halls" ~ makes absolutely no mention of Jesus Christ or of Christmas in any form at all, mentioning only "Yuletide," which would certainly seem to signify the Winter Solstice.

Do we know how old this song might be? Could it possibly date back to pre-Christian times? Do we require some impossible level of "proof" before we can regard this familar carol as a "Song for the Winter Solstice"?

Also:

January 6th is the Feast of the Epiphany on the Christian liturgical calendar, a commemoration of the visit of the Magi (or Three Kings or Three Wise Men) to the newborn Baby Jesus. It is often called "Little Christmas," and in some Christian cultures, has served as the primary day for gift-giving, in preference to December 25, the Feast of the Nativity, which is reserevd in these communities for a more sober and strictly religious observation.

Might someone's contention that January 6th is an "alternate date" for Christmas be based on a misunderstanding of this well-established Christian feast day and its role as part of the Christmas season?

PS: I once had an employer, a real Ebeneezer Scrooge type, who bragged about his old French founders-of-New-Orleans family and their adherence to the best of the old customs. He always made it a point to tell us that his family exchanged gifts, not on Christmas Day (which they observed with great religious solemnity, supposedly) but on "Li'l Christmas," January 6. The long-time employees, in turn, loved to counter that his only
real motivation was to buy all the toys and stuff cheap, at the after-Christmas sales.


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Subject: RE: Songs for the Winter Solstice
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 05 Dec 07 - 04:38 AM

January 6th is 'Old Christmas Day' - i.e. Christmas Day in the old (Julian?) calendar before the Gregorian reforms which didn't come into effect in England until the middle of the 18th century. Preserved in certain versions of The Cherry Tree Carol, the date also corresponds, as you say, to Twelfth Night & The Feast of the Epiphany, when traditionally we sing We Three Kings of Orient Are, or at least dig out our record of Mario Lanza's superlative rendering, which can be found in most charity shops on his Christmas Carols album - highly recommended!


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Subject: RE: Songs for the Winter Solstice
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 05 Dec 07 - 04:58 AM

PS - For more on this see Old Christmas Day and be sure check out the Wikipediea entry for Christmas .

Yule, as with Easter, is a hangover from Anglo-Saxon times and as such was a moveable feast determined by the Moon (see the Wikipediea entry for Yule ), somewhat like Easter, which we celebrate on the First Sunday after The Full Moon following the Spring Equinox, which occurs half way between the Winter & Summer Solstices.


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Subject: RE: Songs for the Winter Solstice
From: GUEST,Edthefolkie
Date: 05 Dec 07 - 06:19 AM

Haven't spotted Steve Ashley's magisterial Fire and Wine yet. Not srictly a solstice song but one of the best songs ever.

Blatant advert: Steve's on with Dik Cadbury at Farnsfield Acoustic nr Sherwood Forest, UK 12th Jan 2008.

Winter's coming,
We live a shorter day.
The sun is hunting
For a place to stay.
And Jack Frost's fingers
Are in the wind again.

Ragged Robin is see-sawin'
In one half of a coconut shell.
He can't find the bacon rind,
Hunger makes his red breast swell.

Chorus (after each verse):
Now is the time for fire and wine,
Fire for the body and wine for the mind.
We will sing and play till break of day,
And we will sing the frost away.

Cold October bowls me over,
Damp November makes me sneeze,
Then December cruelly sends the
Winter frost to freeze my knees.

Winter brings us to the singers
And the drinkers glass in hand.
Roll up smokers, cards and jokers,
Listeners all who sit and stand.

(Sorry, the smokers will have to stand in the porch)


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Subject: RE: Songs for the Winter Solstice
From: GUEST,The black belt caterpillar wrestler
Date: 05 Dec 07 - 07:48 AM

The tune to "Deck the halls" is well known as an old Welsh folk tune. We find it goes quite well with "Ode to Joy" for John O' Gaunt Morris!


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Subject: RE: Songs for the Winter Solstice
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 11 Dec 07 - 12:34 PM

Sad that the fire's gone out on this one rather; especially as The Solstice draws ever nearer - Dec 22 06:08 GMT.


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Subject: RE: Songs for the Winter Solstice
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 11 Dec 07 - 01:18 PM

It that the sound of a Hungarian Dulcimer I hear?


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Subject: RE: Songs for the Winter Solstice
From: katlaughing
Date: 11 Dec 07 - 02:23 PM

Edthefolkie, great song. Thanks for posting the lyrics. I looked for it on Steve's myspace page, but it's not there. His songs which are available sound great. Thanks, again.

kat


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Subject: RE: Songs for the Winter Solstice
From: Llanfair
Date: 12 Dec 07 - 04:21 AM

I heard "Bold Orion" for the firs time last Saturday. Anyone know where i can find the lyrics?

It's been a most interesting thread, this one, but not many yuletide songs for me to sing at "Mystic Ally" in Montgomery market hall on Sunday.

I'll have to settle for "Deck the halls" and Holly and the ivy".


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Subject: RE: Songs for the Winter Solstice
From: Mrs Scarecrow
Date: 12 Dec 07 - 04:41 PM

Tonight it is the longest night
lift up your voice and sing
for tomorrow there will be more light
'twill bring us hope of spring my friends
'twill bring us hope of spring

the leaves have fallen tuimbling down
Wind and rain give way to cold
the sky is grey the earth is brown
the year it has grown old

Tonight it is the longest night etc

Winter's not over we'll still see snow
The sap of the trees lies deep in their roots
but with each new day we rejoice 'cos we know
We will see the snowdrops shoots

tonight etc

the birds have flown to warmer parts
we huddle round our fires
and still the fear that's in our hearts
That this long night inspires

tonight etc

Sing with us now and pu t to rest
the ghosts of this last year
for the sun stays longer in the west
and spring it will draw near

tonight etc

Ann Reader 2001


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Subject: RE: Songs for the Winter Solstice
From: PoppaGator
Date: 13 Dec 07 - 12:39 PM

Very interesting stuff about calendar-history ~ what a coincidence that Christmas on one calendar would coincide with Three Kings Day on that other!


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Subject: RE: Songs for the Winter Solstice
From: katlaughing
Date: 13 Dec 07 - 04:25 PM

Here ya go, Llanfair: Click for Orion's Song.


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Subject: RE: Songs for the Winter Solstice
From: Llanfair
Date: 14 Dec 07 - 04:08 AM

Thanks so much, Kat, what a great song!!

I hop you are continuing to look after yourself, and that you are having a speedy recovery.

Cheers, Bron.


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Subject: RE: Songs for the Winter Solstice
From: theleveller
Date: 14 Dec 07 - 05:16 AM

Here's one I wrote called The Willow In Winter

Am                Gm9
Silent stands the weeping willow
Dm       Am                Em                  
Now that summer's song has gone
Dm(at5)                     Cm(at3)
With the blackbirds who fly south for winter
   Am       Em      G7sus4 Em Am
To cheer new lovers with their songs.
Em       G7sus4 m7       Em    Am
And the fallen leaves now form a carpet
Em    G7sus4             Em7    Am9
Where autumn scents still linger on
Am(at5)                Gm9
Then the wind disperses like our memories;
Am       Em    G7sus4 Em Am
Precious hopes that now are flown.

You stand beneath the naked branches
Arms outstretched in the crystal air
And glance between the dangling fingers
That gently brush your golden hair,
Waiting for the days of pleasure
When love, like spring is perfect bliss
And beneath the clothes of summer's grandeur
The body craves a lover's kiss.

When days are short and nights are darkest
The moon her silver mantle spreads
Casting over trees and mortals
The freezing cloth that passion dreads.
Still stands the willow in the moonlight,
Still as death through snow and rain,
Waiting for the breath of springtime
When love, like life, is born again.


P Thompson 2006


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Subject: RE: Songs for the Winter Solstice
From: GUEST,CS
Date: 19 Nov 10 - 02:41 PM

FROM SOP ABOVE (click):

And talking of Holly, and Ivy, and Advent - & seeing today (according to the met office) is the first day of winter, I offer the following, as collected by that emininent folklorist Colonel Killingworth-James from those 'rough, black-faced mummers' he encountered in the village of Quaking Houses, County Durham, circa 1887:
^^
The holly tree, the holly, that bears the crown of blood;
the ivy, oh the ivy that green shines in the wood.
Oh, the cutty wren was killed again, the cutty wren was slain;
who held the knife to take its life all in the darkwood then?

[full text above]
.....


Is there a tune given for this?


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Subject: RE: Songs for the Winter Solstice
From: Herga Kitty
Date: 19 Nov 10 - 02:48 PM

WFD's "Summer is invincible" - "Then in the midst of winter, when hope like death lies still, listen to the heart within singing, summer is invincible".

Kitty


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Subject: RE: Songs for the Winter Solstice
From: JHW
Date: 20 Nov 10 - 12:20 PM

In case anyone (as I did) clicks the Woven Wheat Whispers link above this now goes to one of those irritating sites whose only content is more links but when posted above back in 07 I guess linked to Mark Colyle's enterprising Folk Download site RIP


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