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Tune Req: Now to conclude our Christmas mirth

Artful Codger 24 Feb 10 - 01:30 PM
Artful Codger 26 Feb 10 - 01:55 AM
Artful Codger 27 Feb 10 - 09:18 AM
maeve 27 Feb 10 - 09:20 AM
Matthew Edwards 28 Feb 10 - 10:47 AM
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Subject: Tune Req: Now to conclude our Christmas mirth
From: Artful Codger
Date: 24 Feb 10 - 01:30 PM

Can someone post the full tune to "Now to conclude our Christmas mirth", which Voice Squad recorded as "Kilmore Carol" on Many's the Foolish Youth? It begins:

Now to conclude our Christmas mirth, with news of our redemption,
We will end our songs on our Saviour's birth with one that deserves attention.

The full lyrics can be found in the liner notes, available online at the Tara Records website.

The liner notes say:
In 1684 while in exile in Ghent, Luke Wadding, Bishop of Ferns (which includes Wexford) published a 'Smale Garland' of carols. After his death these became immensely popular in Ireland (in fact, an edition was printed for a Drogheda bookseller, James Connor, in 1728) and are sung to this day at Christmas time in the Wexford fishing village of Kilmore Quay. The Dublin singer Frank Harte was Phil's source for this song.

I've been unable to locate an online scan of the Smale Garland, or anything more than partial sound clips seemingly at odds with one another. If I decipher aright the snippet of info I was able to get from the JSTOR site, this is the "2nd [Kilmore] Carol for Twelfth Day".

If someone has sheet music, I'd be well content with an emailed scan (PM for my email addy), and would oblige by posting an ABC of the melody here.

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Subject: RE: Tune Req: Now to conclude our Christmas mirth
From: Artful Codger
Date: 26 Feb 10 - 01:55 AM

Matthew Edwards was kind enough to send me a copy of the score for this carol. The score includes representative ornamentation markings (mordents and such), but the ABC extensions for these are not reliably understood by many programs, so I have only included simple grace notes at present. The carol is sung appreciably slower than my transcription below indicates.

I hope Matthew doesn't mind if I quote from his email to me:
The text and music for this song is given in the book The Wexford Carols; assembled and edited by Diarmuid Ó Muirithe, music transcribed with a commentary by Seoirse Bodley, Dolmen Press, Portlaoise, 1982.

...I can very strongly recommend the DVD of the 7th Festival of Village Carols, 2006 available from Garland Films
[] which features the six Kilmore Carollers.

...There are ten verses to the complete song, although the Kilmore Carolers usually sing an abbreviated version of four or five verses (1,2,3, and sometimes verse 4 as well before finishing with v.10). It is sung as the last carol of the series over Christmas and is also known as The Farewell Carol.

[The Voice Squad version corresponds to verses 1, 2, 3, 6, 7 and 10 below.]

ABC transcription:
T:A Carol for Twelfth Day
T:Now to conclude our Christmas mirth
% The written ornamentation is not reflected in this transcription
S:The Wexford Carols, edited by Diarmuid Ó Muirithe
N:Music transcribed by Seoirse Bodley. Dolmen Press, Portlaoise, 1982
Z:ABC transcription by Artful Codger
(DE) D C (B,C)D2 | (G>E =F) E (ED2) (3D/(E/^F/) |
E2 (DE) G2 (A/B/c) | (B3{A}F) G2 G E |
(DE) (DC) (B,C) D D | {E}(G>E =F) E (ED2) (3D/E/^F/) |
G2 D E G2 (A/B/A) | (B3 {A}F) G4 |
{A}B2 B2 (cB A) G | (FG) A F D2 (DE/F/) |
G2 (FG) (EF) G A | (Bd c) B (B A3) |
(DE) D C (B,C) D2 | (G>E =F) E (ED2) (3D/E/^F/) |
G2 (DE) G2 (A/B/c) | (B3F) G4 |]


Now to conclude our Christmas mirth,
For the news of our redemption,
We end these songs on our Saviour's birth
With one that deserves attention
Three great wonders fell on this day
A star brought Kings where the Infant lay,
Water made wine in Galilee,
And Christ baptised in Jordan.

Those Kings might have known what Balaam of old
Said of a star that would rise
In Jacob's land when he foretold,
The comeing of the Messias.
Jaspar, Melchoir and Balthasar,
Set out when they saw the new bright star,
Leaving their eastern kingdoms far,
To find the new born Jesus.

They bend their course to the Jewish Court,
Jerusalem renowned,
Where to find him they did not doubt,
But met with a stranger crowned,
They tyrant Herod shocked at The news,
To hear of a new King of the Jews,
In dread the usurped crown to loose,
Ordered a bloody slaughter,

But for amends in this surprise,
Those straying Kings could visit,
The temple made by solomon the Wise,
The world had nothing like it,
There the Ophir gold they could see,
There Diamonds rich and Ivory,
Imbroidered silks and tapestry,
From both sides of the Indies.

Yet nothing rich nor rare in art,
Not finding him could please them,
The're told of Bethlehem and depart,
No court toys could delay them,
Their guiding star again did appear,
And to that city straight did steer,
Till over the house resting most clear,
Thus bid the monarchs welcome.

Amazed to see the cottage poor,
The stall perhaps where he was born,
Leaving their retinue at the door,
Though great they entered without scorn.
The blessed babe and Mother found,
Laying their crowns and scepters down,
Adored him prostrate on the ground,
And might have spoken as follows,

Thou King of Kings here in disguise,
Whom stars obey and Angels serve,
Who Wealth and grandeur you dispise,
You have given us more than we deserve,
Our beds are gold and Ivory,
Our garments rich embroidery,
Set with stones and pagantry,
Whilst you lies in a stable,

Here's gold and myrrh and frankincence,
Not for to inrich you we bring,
But to honour thee O! heavenly Prince,
As god as man and as King,
Incense to thee as god is due,
The gold shews kingly powers too,
The myrrh keeps corpse long sweet and new
We have heard how you must suffer,

And when the grand affair is done,
The world from hell redeemed,
When God have glorified his son,
At length by men esteemed,
Let our poor pagan nations in,
And thy happy sheepfold bring,
That free from blindness and free from sin,
They may in truth adore thee,

What else might have passed you may conceive,
In this fond conversation.
They bid farewell taking their leave
Homewards to their habitation;
Farewell good Christians farewell too,
Many a happy Christmass I wish you,
With a blessed end hence to ensue,
Through the merits of sweet Jesus.


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Subject: RE: Tune Req: Now to conclude our Christmas mirth
From: Artful Codger
Date: 27 Feb 10 - 09:18 AM

Also from Matthew:
Seoirse Bodley added at the end of his musical transcriptions that the song was sung very slowly with a basic tempo of 80 MM, though he noted that "All tempi were subject to much rubato. The metronome markings are approximate indications of the basic tempo." He states that the original key signature for this carol was G Flat Major.

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Subject: RE: Tune Req: Now to conclude our Christmas mirth
From: maeve
Date: 27 Feb 10 - 09:20 AM

Thanks for posting so much information. It looks like a lovely piece.


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Subject: RE: Tune Req: Now to conclude our Christmas mirth
From: Matthew Edwards
Date: 28 Feb 10 - 10:47 AM

Thanks to Artful Codger for posting the ABC, and for showing me how to use the ABC Convert-A-Matic to get a midi file player for the tune as well as a good quality pdf.

Having said that nothing equals the experience of hearing this and the other Wexford or Kilmore Carols sung by the Kilmore Carolers themselves. Ian Russell introduced the singers at the 2006 Festival of Village Carols by quoting Tom Munnelly: "There are some singers who can sing on the intervals between the white keys on the piano i.e. on the black keys, but these guys can sing notes even between the cracks in the black keys!"

They sing at an incredibly slow and considered pace, with a delightful ornamentation that brings out the simple beauty of the words to the full extent. I think all of us who heard them then were struck by the humility and honest piety of the singers. I could feel each individual hair on my neck prickling as I listened to them sing - especially the old English Catholic hymn Jerusalem, My Happy Home (the words to which were posted on Mudcat by the late Bruce Olson).

There have been some other threads on Mudcat about the Wexford/Kilmore carols, but the best information I've found online comes from the Ask about Ireland website where there are several pages about the Kilmore Carols accompanied by links to further images and texts.

There is a brief excerpt from an RTE broadcast of 1977 showing the carols being sung in church with the alternate verses being sung by each group of three singers, but the commentator did insist on talking over the top. See this page at RTE - Libraries and Archives: Christmas TV Past and scroll down the page.


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