Lyrics & Knowledge Personal Pages Record Shop Auction Links Radio & Media Kids Membership Help
The Mudcat Cafemuddy

Post to this Thread - Sort Descending - Printer Friendly - Home


Origins: New Yrs Carol: Levy Dew/Residue

AllisonA(Animaterra) 31 Dec 09 - 12:18 PM
Reinhard 31 Dec 09 - 12:49 PM
Marje 31 Dec 09 - 01:32 PM
AllisonA(Animaterra) 31 Dec 09 - 01:35 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 31 Dec 09 - 02:09 PM
Reinhard 31 Dec 09 - 04:27 PM
Jim Dixon 06 Jan 10 - 02:09 PM
AllisonA(Animaterra) 06 Jan 10 - 07:31 PM
manitas_at_work 07 Jan 10 - 06:31 AM
sian, west wales 07 Jan 10 - 12:33 PM
GUEST,TheMadBlonde 14 Nov 13 - 01:27 PM
Eldergirl 15 Nov 13 - 05:09 AM
Share Thread
more
Lyrics & Knowledge Search [Advanced]
DT  Forum
Sort (Forum) by:relevance date
DT Lyrics:





Subject: Origins: New Yrs Carol: Levy Dew/Residue
From: AllisonA(Animaterra)
Date: 31 Dec 09 - 12:18 PM

I have long loved Benjamin Britten's arrangement of the New Year's Carol, "Levy Dew" (here is a pretty good video). Recently Dudley Laufman told me of a Waterson song called "Residue", with very similar words. So good old Google sent me here.


What I can't figure out is, which came first, the Waterson version or the words by Walter de la Mare. Is this in fact a composed piece, or a very ancient carol of the New Year?

In any event, sing levy dew, everyone!

Allison


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origins: New Yrs Carol: Levy Dew/Residue
From: Reinhard
Date: 31 Dec 09 - 12:49 PM

I like this video of the New Year Carol even better.

And according to this New Year's Carol page, the carol seems to have a long tradition in Wales. The next two paragraphs are quoted from this page:

Trefor Owen describes the context for this song in Wales. Very early on New Year's Day about three or four o'clock in the morning, groups of boys came round to the houses in the neighborhood, carrying a vessel of cold spring water, freshly drawn, and twigs of box, holly, myrtle, rosemary or other evergreens. They sprinkled the hands and face of anyone they met for a copper or two. In every house, each room was sprinkled with New Year's water and the inmates, who were often still in bed, wished a Happy New Year. For this service and wish they were also gifted with coins. The doors of those houses which were closed to them were sprinkled with the water. The verse was sung during the sprinkling.

In certain parts of Wales this custom is called dwr newy (literally, new water). The exact meaning of the phrase, ¡Èlevy dew¡É is unknown, although there have been attempts to trace it to llef I Dduw (Welsh for ¡Ècry of God¡É). This seems to be an imposition of a Christian interpretation on a much older custom. Although the fair maid is now equated with the Virgin, Owen thinks it likely that this custom derives from ¡Èan early well-cult made acceptable to medieval Christianity by its association with the Virgin and perpetuated both by the desire to wish one¡Çs neighbor well at the beginning of a new year and by the small monetary payment involved.¡É


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origins: New Yrs Carol: Levy Dew/Residue
From: Marje
Date: 31 Dec 09 - 01:32 PM

Allison, I had been wondering about that myself and have also been googling a bit.

It seems that the Watersons haven't the faintest ideea what "Residue" is supposed to mean in that contect, so it's almost certainly a corruption or mishearing of "Levy Dew".

Apart from the possible meanings of "Levy Dew" given above, another one is that it may come from "Levedy" which was Old English for "lady". So we have suggested etymologies from French, Welsh, or Old English - take your pick.

And have a good one, anyway!

Marje


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origins: New Yrs Carol: Levy Dew/Residue
From: AllisonA(Animaterra)
Date: 31 Dec 09 - 01:35 PM

You, too, Marje, and you, too, Reinhard! It's a great song, anyway.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origins: New Yrs Carol: Levy Dew/Residue
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 31 Dec 09 - 02:09 PM

"New Year's Carol" makes me think of the carol of that title collected by Sharp-
Awake! Awake! ye drowsy souls....
Sharp, "English Folk Carols," 1911.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origins: New Yrs Carol: Levy Dew/Residue
From: Reinhard
Date: 31 Dec 09 - 04:27 PM

... which is also sung by Waterson:Carthy on the same CD as the New Year Carol, "Holy Heathens and the Old Green Man".


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origins: New Yrs Carol: Levy Dew/Residue
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 06 Jan 10 - 02:09 PM

Archaeologia Cambrensis, Volume 4 (London: Cambrian Archaeological Association, 1849), page 141:


CUSTOM ON NEW YEAR'S DAY IN PEMBROKESHIRE.

To the Editors of the Archaeologia Cambrensis.

Gentlemen,—In the southern part of Pembrokeshire, (and possibly elsewhere,) on New Year's morning, as soon as it is light, it is customary for the children of the peasantry to salute one another, and those especially among the higher orders from whom there is a prospect of receiving a small gratuity, in the following manner:—

Having provided themselves with some spring water, drawn that morning fresh from, the well, they carry this about in a small tin or earthenware cup, and with a sprig of some evergreen, generally box, and sprinkle the faces of those whom they meet. This ceremony of sprinkling with New Year's water, is accompanied with a song or ballad, the words of which (taken down from the lips of some of the children themselves) are subjoined. The sound of the words being the only guide to correct orthography, the lines afford ample opportunity to the antiquarian critic for the display of his ingenuity and the application of his antique lore.


"Here we bring new water from the well so clear,
For to worship God with this happy New Year:

[CHORUS] Sing levy dew, sing levy dew, the water and the wine,
With seven bright gold wires, and bugles that do shine.

Sing reign of Fair Maid with gold upon her toe,
Open you the west door and turn the Old Year go;

Sing reign of Fair Maid with gold upon her chin,
Open you the east door and let the New Year in."


Line 3, levy dew.—Is this Lléf ar Dduw? or Levez Dieu? or neither?

Lines 5, and 7, reins.—Rains? reign?

Lines 5, and 7, Fair Maid.—Is this the Virgin, or (more probably) Aurora? The idea of Aurora's feet being gilded with the beams of the setting sun, and her head by those of the rising, is not destitute of poetry, nor without parallel.

Line 6, turn—go.—This is a complete provincialism. A horse, when taken to a field, as soon as the gate is opened, is "turned go," in the ordinary language of the lower orders.

I remain, &c.
J. Boys Smith.
Tenby, March 8th, 1849.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origins: New Yrs Carol: Levy Dew/Residue
From: AllisonA(Animaterra)
Date: 06 Jan 10 - 07:31 PM

JIM!! That's it!! Thanks so much!


(I know it's Old Christmas but I'm still singing levy dew...)


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origins: New Yrs Carol: Levy Dew/Residue
From: manitas_at_work
Date: 07 Jan 10 - 06:31 AM

Surely levy is from the French levee ie the levy dew is the dew you wash your face with uposn rising.

See : http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/levee


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origins: New Yrs Carol: Levy Dew/Residue
From: sian, west wales
Date: 07 Jan 10 - 12:33 PM

I'm sure as heck not going to argue with Trefor Owen's research, but I tend to go with the Levee Dieu idea. The area of Pembrokeshire where this was noted is known as "Little England Beyond Wales" - generally the southern parts which lie below what we call the Landsker Line. It's a very interesting area and there are still a few old timers who speak Pembrokeshire English. The Flemish / French historical connections would lend some weight to the Levee Dieu explanation, although Llef i Dduw makes some sense. Still, I don't think it was a tradition which was found beyond South Pembs and Southwest Carmarthenshire.

sian


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origins: New Yrs Carol: Levy Dew/Residue
From: GUEST,TheMadBlonde
Date: 14 Nov 13 - 01:27 PM

I'm with the Levee (or even Levez) Dieu school myself. "Raise God" or "the rising of god" seems appropriate for a New Year song.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origins: New Yrs Carol: Levy Dew/Residue
From: Eldergirl
Date: 15 Nov 13 - 05:09 AM

I'm with you, MadBlonde, think the 'raise God' is most likely, though 'levez d'eau' also possible, lift up some water and bless your friends and neighbours with it? Ties in with the custom mentioned.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate
  Share Thread:
More...

Reply to Thread
Subject:  Help
From:
Preview   Automatic Linebreaks   Make a link ("blue clicky")


Mudcat time: 22 June 1:55 AM EDT

[ Home ]

All original material is copyright © 1998 by the Mudcat Café Music Foundation, Inc. All photos, music, images, etc. are copyright © by their rightful owners. Every effort is taken to attribute appropriate copyright to images, content, music, etc. We are not a copyright resource.