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Tune Req: Now is come our joyful'st feast (Xmas)

Fergie 17 Nov 09 - 03:40 PM
Matthew Edwards 18 Nov 09 - 03:01 PM
MartinRyan 18 Nov 09 - 06:51 PM
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Subject: Tune Req: Christmas Carroll (George Wither)
From: Fergie
Date: 17 Nov 09 - 03:40 PM

Hi all

Came across an interesting Christmas song written circa 1630 by George Wither. Can't find any reference in the DT or forum. Does anybody know where I might get a midi or a recording or sheet music?




So, now is come our joyfulst feast;
Let every man be jolly;
Each room with ivy leaves is drest,
And every post with holly.
Though some churls at our mirth repine,
Round your foreheads garlands twine;
Drown sorrow in a cup of wine,
And let us all be merry.

Now, all our neighbours' chimnies smoke,
And Christmas blocks are burning;
Their ovens they with bak'd meats choke,
And all their spits are turning.
Without the door let sorrow lye;
And if for cold it hap to die,
We'll, bury't in a Christmas pie,
And ever more be merry.

Now every lad is wondrous trim,
And no man minds his labour;
Our lasses have provided them
A bag-pipe and a tabor;
Young men and maids, and girls and boys,
Give life to one another's joys ;
And you anon shall by their noise
Perceive that they are merry.

Rank misers now do sparing shun;
Their hall of music soundeth;
And dogs thence with whole shoulders run,
So all things there aboundeth.
The country folks themselves advance
With crowdy-muttons out of France;
And Jack shall pipe, and Jyll shall dance,
And all the town be merry.

Ned Squash hath fetcht his bands from pawn,
And all his best apparel;
Brisk Nell hath bought a ruff of lawn
With dropping of the barrel;
And those that hardly all the year
Had bread to eat, or rags to wear,
Will have both clothes and dainty fare,
And all the day be merry.

Now poor men to the justices
With capons make their errants;
And if they hap to fail of these,
They plague them with their warrants:
But now they feed them with good cheer,
And what they want they take in beer;
For Christmas comes but once a year,
And then they shall be merry.

Good farmers in the country nurse
The poor, that else were undone;
Some landlords spend their money worse
On lust and pride at London.
There the roysters they do play,
Drab and dice their lands away,
Which may be ours another day;
And therefore let's be merry.

The client now his suit forbears,
The prisoner's heart is eased;
The debtor drinks away his cares,
And for the time is pleased.
Though others purses be more fat,
Why should we pine or grieve at that?
Hang sorrow! care will kill a cat,
And therefore let's be merry.

Hark! how the wags abroad do call
Each other forth to rambling:
Anon you'll see them in the hall
For nuts and apples scrambling.
Hark! how the roofs with laughter sound!
Anon they'll think the house goes round;
For they the cellars depth have found,
And there they will be merry.

The wenches with their wassel bowls
About the streets are singing ;
The boys are come to catch the owls,
The wild mare in it bringing.
Our kitchen-boy hath broke his box,
And to the dealing of the ox,
Our honest neighbours come by flocks,
And here they will be merry.

Now kings and queens poor sheep cotes have,
And mate with every body;
The honest now may play the knave,
And wise men play the noddy.
Some youths will now a mumming go,
Some others play at Rowland-bo,
And twenty other gameboys mo,
Because they will be merry.

Then wherefore in these merry daies
Should we, I pray, be duller ?
No, let us sing some roundelayes,
To make our mirth the fuller.
And, whilst thus inspir'd we sing,
Let all the streets with echoes ring,
Woods and hills, and every thing,
Bear witness we are merry.

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Subject: RE: Tune Req: Christmas Carroll (George Wither)
From: Matthew Edwards
Date: 18 Nov 09 - 03:01 PM

Hi Fergus

What a nice discovery! It looks like a really singable carol; though I think a singing version would probably need to cut a few verses out - it is rather a long song!

The way the last line of each verse varies the theme of "Let us all be merry" feels very familiar, but I can't trace where else I've heard something like it.

I can find a music sheet for sale of a choral arrangement for SATB by Chris Strutt, but no sign of any recording.


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Subject: RE: Tune Req: Christmas Carroll (George Wither)
From: MartinRyan
Date: 18 Nov 09 - 06:51 PM


Nice one! The tune commonly used for Westlin' Winds would carry it without too much hammer-and-chisel work?


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