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Tune Req: Balulalow: how many melodies are there?

GUEST,GUESTmusic student 15 Nov 12 - 11:28 PM
GUEST,999 16 Nov 12 - 12:06 AM
Artful Codger 16 Nov 12 - 01:36 PM
GUEST,leeneia 16 Nov 12 - 05:42 PM
GUEST,leeneia 17 Nov 12 - 09:29 AM
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Subject: Tune Req: Balulalow: how many melodies are there?
From: GUEST,GUESTmusic student
Date: 15 Nov 12 - 11:28 PM

Hi everyone!
Thanks so much for all you do on this site. I have learned so much just by browsing. Right now I am working on a project that includes Balulalow. I am trying to find all the settings of the text that I can. I heard there are four melodies that go with the text, but I only know the Britten one. Could you help me out with more information on the others? For reference, the text is below.

1 I come from hevin [heich] to tell
the best nowells that e'er befell.
To you thir tythings trew I bring
and I will of them say and sing.

2 This day to you is born ane Child
of Marie meik and Virgin mild.
That blissit bairn bening and kind, bening and kind,
sall you rejoyce baith hart and mind.

3 Lat us rejoyis now and be blyth
and with the Hyrdis go full swyth
and see what Godis grace hes done
throu Christ to bring us to his throne.

4 My saull and life stand up and see
wha lyis in ane cribbe of tree.
What Babe is that, sa gude and fair? sa gude and fair?
It is Christ, Godis Son and Air.

5 The silk and sandell thee to eis
ar hay and sempill sweilling clais
wharin thou gloris greitest King
as thou in hev'n war in thy ring.

6 And war the warld ten times sa wide
cled ouer with gold and stanes of pride
unworthie yit it were to thee, yit it were to thee,
under they feet ane stule to be.

7 O my deir hart, yung Jesus sweit
prepair thy creddill in my spreit!
And I sall rock thee in my hart
and never mair fra thee depart.

8 Bot I sall praise thee evermoir
with sangis sweit unto thy gloir.
The kneis of my hart sall I bow, my hart sall I bow
and sing that rycht Balulalow.

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Subject: RE: Tune Req: Balulalow: how many melodies are there?
From: GUEST,999
Date: 16 Nov 12 - 12:06 AM

The song is from the 16th Century. As you are no doubt aware, Britten's melody was the last extant--probably. What and from whom are the other two?

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Subject: RE: Tune Req: Balulalow: how many melodies are there?
From: Artful Codger
Date: 16 Nov 12 - 01:36 PM

What do you mean by "last extant"? It sounds too modern to have been an existing tune, unless Britten heavily modified a traditional tune. If so, what tune did he find to work from?

The text is also known by it's first line ("I come from heuin/heaven to tell"), and as such was published in William Sandys' Christmas Carols, Ancient and Modern (1833) and Edith Rickert's Ancient English Christmas Carols, 1400-1700 (1914), without tune. Sandys cites:
From "Ane Compendiovs Booke of Godly and Spiritvall Songs, collectit, &c. for avoyding of Sinne and Harlotrie," reprinted in "Scottish Poems of the Sixteenth Century," Edinburgh, 1801, vol. i, pp. 47-49.

"Followis ane Sang of the birth of Christ, with the tune of Baw lulalaw."
The site Hymns and Carols of Christmas says the text was "Based on Words: Vom Himmel hoch da komm ich her, Martin Luther, 1535". Since "Vom Himmel hoch" has been itself set numerous times, it would not surprise me if some of these were matched to the English text with the resulting pairing relabeled "Balulalow", despite having no derivational relationship to a Scots song or tune.

Here's a Scots version on YouTube: (sung by Camilla Mars)

I gather "balulalow" is a Scottish equivalent of "lullaby" or "hush-a-bye", so quite a few unrelated songs go by this same title, such as a famous setting by Peter Warlock (Philip Heseltine). Consequently, you'll probably have the best success by searching on variations of the first line. In my own searches at an earlier time, I came across a couple other settings of "I come from heaven" which were trad-sounding, but as they were also dull, I neglected to capture or even note the sources.

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Subject: RE: Tune Req: Balulalow: how many melodies are there?
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 16 Nov 12 - 05:42 PM

We've got three tunes so far - Britten's tune, the tune which Camilla Mars sings (follow Artful Codger's link), and the tune for "From Heaven Above to Earth I Come."

Music Student, if you don't know "From Heaven Above to Earth I Come," you can find it here:

I didn't listen, but I bet the tune they use is the old tune for "Von Himmel Hoch."

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Subject: RE: Tune Req: Balulalow: how many melodies are there?
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 17 Nov 12 - 09:29 AM

Music student?

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