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Lyr Add: Christmas Night (C. Fox Smith)

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Charley Noble 26 Dec 08 - 03:56 PM
Stewart 26 Dec 08 - 04:14 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 26 Dec 08 - 04:52 PM
Charley Noble 26 Dec 08 - 05:26 PM
Charley Noble 26 Dec 08 - 07:31 PM
Stewart 26 Dec 08 - 10:03 PM
Stewart 26 Dec 08 - 10:05 PM
JohnB 27 Dec 08 - 11:58 AM
Charley Noble 27 Dec 08 - 12:29 PM
Charley Noble 27 Dec 08 - 01:03 PM
Charley Noble 27 Dec 08 - 02:16 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 27 Dec 08 - 02:32 PM
Stewart 27 Dec 08 - 02:51 PM
Charley Noble 28 Dec 08 - 08:12 AM
Q (Frank Staplin) 28 Dec 08 - 01:46 PM
Charley Noble 28 Dec 08 - 05:22 PM
Charley Noble 29 Dec 08 - 02:33 PM
Charley Noble 30 Dec 08 - 03:48 PM
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Subject: Lyr Add: Christmas Night (C. Fox Smith)
From: Charley Noble
Date: 26 Dec 08 - 03:56 PM

I finally got around to adapting this Christmas poem by Cicely Fox Smith for singing. The poem is evidently inspired by the old solstice song "The Three Ships (Christmas Day in the Morning)" (copy and paste into WORD/TIMES/12 to line up chords):

By Cicely Fox Smith From RHYMES OF THE RED ENSIGN, edited by Cicely Fox Smith, published by Hodder and Stoughton, London, © 1919, pp. 71-72.
Adapted for singing by Charlie Ipcar, 12/26/08
Tune inspired by "Christmas Day in the Morning"


Christmas Night-2


C-------------G-C-F---C----------F
We shipped a sea on Christmas night,
----C-----------------------G-----------G7
On Christmas night, on Christmas night!
-------C----G-C-----F---C--------------F
From stem to stern the decks flowed white –
----C---------------------------G-----C
On Christmas night till the morn-ing!
-------------------------------F
"One more like that," the mate did say,
-------C-----------------------G--------G7
"And she'll not last till the break of day,"
----C----G--C-------F--C------F
So deep she rolled, so ill she lay –
------------------------------G-----C
All the night long till the morn-ing!

So black the night, the gale it screamed,
On Christmas night, on Christmas night!
Like gushing wounds her swing-ports streamed;
On Christmas night till the morning!
All ice the yard was where we clung,
The frozen shrouds shrill carols sung,
Like harps the twanging backstays rung –
All the night long till the morning!

We called "All hands!", we hove her to,
On Christmas night, on Christmas night!
And nothing then was left to do
On Christmas night till the morning!
But hang on all, and wait, and pray
For nothing else to carry away,
So she might last till the break of day –
All the night long till the morning!

And one big roaring sailorman
A sort of rambling yarn began,
About a place nigh Wexford town,
And the river Slaney flowing down
By the farm where he was born an' rared;
"And my old mother – she's not heard
A word o' me this many a year . . .
But I've got stuff and I've got gear
Stowed in my sea-chest all for her –
I bet I'll see them old eyes stare:
A lump o' coral like a tree
Them Blacks dive after in Feejee,
A Spanish shawl and a carved fan,
A little tea-set from far Japan
That's blue and white, and wee and small,
If this black gale don't break 'em all!"

The long night passed, and the great gale,
On Christmas night, on Christmas night!
Went down at dawn, and we made sail,
On Christmas Day in the morning!
We sent the yards to the masthead,
The watch sung out to wake the dead!
"Them tea-things is all right," Dan said –
On Christmas Day in the morning!

Here are the original verses:


By Cicely Fox Smith From RHYMES OF THE RED ENSIGN, edited by Cicely Fox Smith, published by Hodder and Stoughton, London, © 1919, pp. 71-72.

Christmas Night

We shipped a sea on Christmas night-
On Christmas night, on Christmas night!-
From stem to stern the decks were white. . . .
'One more like that,' the mate did say,
'And she'll not last till the break of day,'
So deep she rolled, so ill she lay,
All the night long till the morning.

It was black dark, and the gale screamed,
On Christmas night, on Christmas night. . .
Like gushing wounds her swing-ports streamed;
All ice the yard was where we clung,
The frozen shrouds shrill carols sung,
Like harps the twangling backstays rung
All the night long till the morning!

We called all hands, we hove her to,
On Christmas night, on Christmas night;
And nothing then was left to do
But hang on all, and wait, and pray
For nothing else to carry away,
So she might last till the break of day,
All the night long till the morning.

And one big roaring sailorman
A sort of rambling yarn began
About a place nigh Wexford town,
And the river Slaney flowing down
By the farm where he was born an' rared;
'And my old mother-she's not heard
A word o' me this many a year. ...
But I've got stuff and I've got gear
Stowed in my sea-chest all for her-
I think I see them old eyes stare-
A lump o' coral like a tree
Them nigs dive after in Feejee,
A Spanish shawl and a carved fan,
And a little tea-set from Japan
That's blue and white, and wee and small,
If this black gale don't break it all. . .'

But the night passed, and the great gale
Went down at dawn . . . and we made sail,
And sent the yards to the masthead,
The watch sung out to wake the dead. . . .
'Them tea-things is all right,' Dan said.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Christmas Night (C. Fox Smith)
From: Stewart
Date: 26 Dec 08 - 04:14 PM

Nice song Charley!

Here's the jig version (midi) of "I saw three ships"
from TheSession.Org in AB form. You can use the A part to sing a verse, then the B part to play an instrumental interlude, and so forth. It breaks up the monotony of the same tune over and over.

I'll have to try that at our next jam.

Thanks, S. in Seattle


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Christmas Night (C. Fox Smith)
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 26 Dec 08 - 04:52 PM

Thanks for that. I don't have the Red Ensign volume; have to look for it.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Christmas Night (C. Fox Smith)
From: Charley Noble
Date: 26 Dec 08 - 05:26 PM

Stewart-

It is important to work this out to a more flowing rhythm.

The chords are morphing so the basic structure now looks more like:

C-------------G-C-F---C----------F
We shipped a sea on Christmas night,
----C-----------------------G-----------G7
On Christmas night, on Christmas night!
-------C----G-C-----F---C--------------F
From stem to stern the decks flowed white –
----C---------------------------G-----C
On Christmas night till the morn-ing!
-------F-----------------------C
"One more like that," the mate did say,
F-----C-----------------------G--------G7
"And she'll not last till the break of day,"
----C----G--C-------F--C------F
So deep she rolled, so ill she lay –
C----------------------------G-----C
All the night long till the morn-ing!

I suspect there's a bit of "Ticondaroga" embedded in what I'm playing. The sailor's story as might be expected has it's own chord structure and refuses to settle down.

Q-

Some of the poems published in Red Ensign were reprinted in SEA SONGS AND BALLADS. It's a fairly rare volume but does surface on the used book lists now and again.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Christmas Night (C. Fox Smith)
From: Charley Noble
Date: 26 Dec 08 - 07:31 PM

I just realized that the melody of the first four lines is closer to "Dainty Davie" (as sung by Ewan MacColl) than to the A part of "Christmas Day in the Morning."

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Christmas Night (C. Fox Smith)
From: Stewart
Date: 26 Dec 08 - 10:03 PM

Yes Charley,

I'm beginning to think that "I Saw Three Ships"
might not be the best tune for this song.

Cheers, S. in Seattle


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Christmas Night (C. Fox Smith)
From: Stewart
Date: 26 Dec 08 - 10:05 PM

And that long 4th verse
ought to be broken up into
smaller, more manageable verses.

S. in Seattle


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Christmas Night (C. Fox Smith)
From: JohnB
Date: 27 Dec 08 - 11:58 AM

The first verse just scanned with "Oh Tannenbaum" with just a small change here or there. Give it a try.
JohnB.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Christmas Night (C. Fox Smith)
From: Charley Noble
Date: 27 Dec 08 - 12:29 PM

JohnB-

That could work as well.

But I'm going back to my original setting with some added chords for the story break. The whole thing looks like this now, with some more minor wording changes (copy and paste into WORD/TIMES/12 to line up chords):

By Cicely Fox Smith From RHYMES OF THE RED ENSIGN, edited by Cicely Fox Smith, published by Hodder and Stoughton, London, © 1919, pp. 71-72.
Adapted for singing by Charlie Ipcar, 12/26/08
Tune inspired by "Christmas Day in the Morning"
Key:F (5/C)

Christmas Night-2


C-------------G-C-F---C----------F
We shipped a sea on Christmas night,
----C-----------------------G-----------G7
On Christmas night, on Christmas night!
-------C----G-C-----F---C--------------F
From stem to stern the decks flowed white –
----C---------------------------G-----C
On Christmas night till the morn-ing!
-------F-----------------------C
"One more like that," our mate did say,
F-----C-----------------------G--------G7
"And she'll not last till the break of day,"
----C----G---C-----------------F
So deep she rolled, so ill she lay –
C----------------------------G-----C
All the night long till the morn-ing!


So black the night, the gale it screamed,
On Christmas night, on Christmas night!
Like gushing wounds her swing-ports streamed;
On Christmas night till the morning!
All ice the yard was where we clung,
The frozen shrouds shrill carols sung,
Like harps the twanging backstays rung –
All the night long till the morning!

We called "All hands!" We hove her to,
On Christmas night, on Christmas night!
And nothing then was left to do
On Christmas night till the morning!
But hang on all, and wait, and pray
For nothing else to carry away,
So she might last till the break of day –
All the night long till the morning!

C------------------------------F
And one big roaring sailor-man
--C------------------G-------G7
A sort of rambling yarn be-gan,
--C-------------------------------F
A-bout a place nigh Wexford town,
-----------C-------------G
With the river Slaney flowing down
---------F--------------------------------C
By the farm where he was born an' rared;
-----------G-------------------F---------C
"An' my old mother, well, she's not heard
---F-----------------C
A word o' me this many a year . . .
-----G-------G7--------F--------C
But I've got stuff and I've got gear
----------F-----------------C
Stowed in my sea-chest all for her –
G---------------------F---------C
I can just see them old eyes stare:
--F----------------C
A lump o' coral like a tree
F------C-------------------G-----G7
Them Blacks dive after in Fee-jee,
---C-------------------------------F
A Spanish shawl and a carved fan,
---C-------------------G-----G7
A little tea-set from far Ja-pan,
--------F----------------------C
That's blue and white, and wee and small,
---G----------G7--------F
If this black gale don't break 'em all!"

The long night passed and the great gale,
On Christmas night, on Christmas night!
Went down at dawn, so we made sail,
On Christmas Day in the morning!
We sent the yards to the masthead,
The watch sung out to wake the dead!
"Them tea-things is all right," Dan said –
On Christmas Day in the morning!

"Swing-ports" by the way are doors which open (one way) below the rail to let the water out that has swept unto the deck from a big wave.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Christmas Night (C. Fox Smith)
From: Charley Noble
Date: 27 Dec 08 - 01:03 PM

Stewart-

And I did experiment in trying to sort the "story" into verses. It didn't work very well. It seems better to just let it flow, and then end on the unresolved F...

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Christmas Night (C. Fox Smith)
From: Charley Noble
Date: 27 Dec 08 - 02:16 PM

Oh, and replace the G7's above with Gm's!

What fun!

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Christmas Night (C. Fox Smith)
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 27 Dec 08 - 02:32 PM

Gee, maybe it will make the next edition of The Oxford Book of Carols!
Some of their carols are a little 'old'.

Please post your 'final' version.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Christmas Night (C. Fox Smith)
From: Stewart
Date: 27 Dec 08 - 02:51 PM

Hi Charley,

Just this morning I sat down with my guitar to sing this song, without any melody in mind. As I started with the words, this melody came out. Or the words chose the melody, I don't know. I don't know if I unconsciously borrowed the melody from somewhere else, or if it's original, it doesn't really matter.

So after singing through it a few times, I turned my recorder on and THIS is what I recorded. Very rough and barely rehearsed. I'll work on it a little more. I sort of like it.

What do you think?

Cheers, S. in Seattle


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Christmas Night (C. Fox Smith)
From: Charley Noble
Date: 28 Dec 08 - 08:12 AM

Stewart-

At least 4 stars for that rendition. You are doing a great job of navigating the song, including the hard to deal with story.

Now I need to see if I can get a recording done of what I'm doing for show and tell.

I do think the song is a keeper.

Q-

As you well know the "folk process" requires more than 24 hours to season. When I'm actually learning a new song, I sometimes find better alternative words as I try to remember the verses, sometimes not!

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Christmas Night (C. Fox Smith)
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 28 Dec 08 - 01:46 PM

Well, I might be generous and give you 12 hours.
Seriously, The song says a lot and I know both of you will do a fine job of it.

I am more and more impressed by the poems. Her work deserves greater recognition.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Christmas Night (C. Fox Smith)
From: Charley Noble
Date: 28 Dec 08 - 05:22 PM

Here's a link to my website with a MP3 of the entire song as I've worked it up at this point. It's a whole lot better than I would have expected it to be, given its freshness: Click here for lyrics and MP3!

Q-

It would be nice if we could locate a publisher for the C. Fox Smith Anthology we've pulled together, but so far no interest from established publishers.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Christmas Night (C. Fox Smith)
From: Charley Noble
Date: 29 Dec 08 - 02:33 PM

refresh!


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Christmas Night (C. Fox Smith)
From: Charley Noble
Date: 30 Dec 08 - 03:48 PM

Here's some wording changes I've made to verse 2 and 3 while learning the song:

So black the night, the gale it screamed,
On Christmas night, on Christmas night!
Like gushing wounds her swing-ports streamed;
On Christmas night till the morning!
All ice the yard to which we clung,
The frozen shrouds shrill carols sung,
Like harps the twanging backstays rung –
All the night long till the morning!

We called "All hands!" We hove her to,
On Christmas night, on Christmas night!
And nothing more was left to do
On Christmas night till the morning!
Then we hung on all, to wait and pray
For nothing else to carry away,
So she might last till the break of day –
All the night long till the morning!

The tune is holding up well.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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