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origin? RVW Danby hymn 'Tis Winter Now

Desert Dancer 21 Apr 14 - 10:40 AM
Desert Dancer 21 Apr 14 - 10:44 AM
GUEST 21 Apr 14 - 01:16 PM
Desert Dancer 21 Apr 14 - 06:41 PM
Desert Dancer 23 Apr 14 - 03:10 PM
Brian Peters 24 Apr 14 - 05:39 AM
Desert Dancer 24 Apr 14 - 12:02 PM
Desert Dancer 24 Apr 14 - 01:26 PM
GUEST,Brian Peters 24 Apr 14 - 02:47 PM
Desert Dancer 25 Apr 14 - 02:47 PM
sleepyjon 23 Feb 15 - 02:37 PM
GUEST,henryp 23 Feb 15 - 03:26 PM
Brian Peters 24 Feb 15 - 04:34 AM
Brian Peters 24 Feb 15 - 06:15 AM
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Subject: origin? RVW Danby hymn 'Tis Winter Now
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 21 Apr 14 - 10:40 AM

As was his wont, Ralph Vaughan Williams harmonized an English folk song tune and set a text, "'Tis Winter Now, The Fallen Snow", by the American Unitarian (and brother of the poet) Samuel Longfellow to it. It's found with other texts now, too. The tune is identified as "Danby", for the town where he collected it, but I can't find the original song, though the tune seems familiar.

Today at my Unitarian church sang we sang the tune with the text, "Let All the Beauty We Have Known", which is #326 in the "Singing the Living Tradition" hymnal. Here's an MP3 (from another church): clicky.

I'm surprised that Mr. Google is not being more helpful. Perhaps if I was not intimidated by the stack they're in, I could find my Autumn 2006 copy of EDS/English Dance & Song that had the article about Ralph Vaughan Williams and his hymn settings.

Can anyone help? This is where I want Malcolm Douglas back... :-( Maybe anglo?

~ Becky in Long Beach


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Subject: RE: origin? RVW Danby hymn 'Tis Winter Now
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 21 Apr 14 - 10:44 AM

(I found this morning that I never clicked "Submit", so "Today" is yesterday...)

Here's the (uncredited) RVW harmonization of the tune from the Cyber Hymnal.

~ Becky in Long Beach


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Subject: RE: origin? RVW Danby hymn 'Tis Winter Now
From: GUEST
Date: 21 Apr 14 - 01:16 PM

See if the followin is any help.

http://www.hymnary.org/text/tis_winter_now_the_fallen_snow


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Subject: RE: origin? RVW Danby hymn 'Tis Winter Now
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 21 Apr 14 - 06:41 PM

Yes, Guest, that's where I got the second link from. Unfortunately, it starts with the hymn setting and does not refer back to any folk song. There's an online copy of the English Hymnal (at the Internet Archive), which Vaughan Williams edited and where the hymn first appears (#295), but he only refers to it as a "traditional English melody".

I'm afraid I might need English song experts to listen to the tune at the link in my first post and go from there.

~ Becky in Long Beach


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Subject: RE: origin? RVW Danby hymn 'Tis Winter Now
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 23 Apr 14 - 03:10 PM

Anyone?

~ B in LB


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Subject: RE: origin? RVW Danby hymn 'Tis Winter Now
From: Brian Peters
Date: 24 Apr 14 - 05:39 AM

Hi Becky,

Got it! At first hearing it sounded like 'The Water is Wide', which is definitely a closely related tune but doesn't have the flattened seventh in the first phrase. As you suggested, the clue is in the name, since RVW always like to call his hymn tunes after the village where they were collected ('Ingrave', etc). Unfortunately, according to the Roud Index, neither he nor anyone else collected any songs in Danby, North Yorkshire. Aha, but... he did collect several songs in a location described as 'Westerdale', which is a few miles from Danby. Looking through those songs, there's one called 'A Brisk Young Farmer', which is the mixolydian tune you're looking for. You can see it for yourself on The Full English - it's Roud 60 and the singer was Thomas Bowes.

I suspect that the song actually was collected in Danby, but Westerdale (which is a geographical feature as well as a village) was used as shorthand for the district he was working in.

I did a bit of work recently on RVW's hymnal. Everyone knows about 'Our Captain Calls' being used for 'He who would valiant be', but it was a surprise to me that the tune for 'O Little Town of Bethlehem' comes from an obscure (and pretty awful) folk song called 'The Ploughboy's Dream', in which a ploughboy is cruel to his team of oxen and receives visitations from both an angel and the devil to warn him on his future conduct.


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Subject: RE: origin? RVW Danby hymn 'Tis Winter Now
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 24 Apr 14 - 12:02 PM

Thanks so much, Brian! That's wonderful. Obviously it's not something that I had actually heard before; probably the similarity to "The Water is Wide" and general English trad feel (relative to some other songs in the Unitarian hymnal!) made me think so.

I love that the "extra verse" is one that got transported to the American "Down in the Valley". I'll certainly have to share it with the music director at church -- he loves to give everyone the background to the hymns (beyond what the book gives).

~ Becky in Long Beach


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Subject: The Brisk Young Farmer (Courted Me)
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 24 Apr 14 - 01:26 PM

For completeness, here are the related links:

Ralph Vaughan Williams Manuscript Collection (at British Library) (RVW2/3/11)
First Line: A Brisk young farmer courted me
Performer: Bowes, Thomas
Date: 23 Jul 1904
Place: England : Yorkshire : Westerdale
Collector: Vaughan Williams, Ralph
Roud No: 60
http://www.vwml.org/record/RVW2/3/11
at The Full English ("The world's biggest free digital archive of English traditional folk music and dance tunes" via the RVW Memorial Library)

This brief note from Vaughan Williams gives the music notation for one verse and then says "verses as usual", and gives one "extra verse":

When 1st I wore my apron low
my love followed me thru frost & snow
but now my aprons up [to my?] chin
my love passes by and says nothing.

Here's the broadsheet for "A Brisk Young Farmer" at Broadside Ballads Online from the Bodleian Libraries:

Firth c.18(129)
Series Identifier: 157
Ballad
Title: The brisk young farmer
First Line: A brisk young farmer courted me

~ Becky in Long Beach


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Subject: RE: origin? RVW Danby hymn 'Tis Winter Now
From: GUEST,Brian Peters
Date: 24 Apr 14 - 02:47 PM

I love that the "extra verse" is one that got transported to the American "Down in the Valley".

Is that the same song as 'Careless Love'? I've just twigged that Roud 60 is 'Died For Love'. The same 'apron' verse crops up in I Wish, I Wish, which is Roud 495 - though I've always thought of them as essentially the same song.

I was quite chuffed to solve the 'Danby' riddle - thanks for your appreciation.

Brian


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Subject: RE: origin? RVW Danby hymn 'Tis Winter Now
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 25 Apr 14 - 02:47 PM

Whoops, Careless Love is what I meant. (Both of them I hear in my parents' voices in my mind!)

~ Becky in Long Beach


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Subject: RE: origin? RVW Danby hymn 'Tis Winter Now
From: sleepyjon
Date: 23 Feb 15 - 02:37 PM

I guess there is no audio of Thomas Bowes, or am I missing it somewhere on the Full English site? (not found my way round that yet!)

In case it matters, there seems to be a misprint in the Cyber Hymnal version - the second note of the melody should be G, not A - and another at the start of the third bar from the end (or measure if you prefer) where that rather odd chord of D/G/D/G (going from the bottom upwards) should be B/G/D/G.

Those are factual differences in comparison with the English Hymnal 1933 edition, but what about the final cadence? I'm sure I should defer to RVW (if it was ideed he - he isn't credited in the book either) who has ended with a chord of G major (the "tonic" according to the key signature) but I thought the whole thing about modes was that the "tonic" (probably the wrong word) is the first note of the series of eight that make up that specific mode, so the finl chord should be D major, which gives that modal feel, not G as suggested by our 21st century ears.

Anyone care to comment?

SJ


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Subject: RE: origin? RVW Danby hymn 'Tis Winter Now
From: GUEST,henryp
Date: 23 Feb 15 - 03:26 PM

Full marks, Brian, well done!

Coope Boyes and Simpson found some virtue in The Ploughboy's Dream, one of the songs on Triple Echo, their CD of songs collected by Ralph Vaughan Williams, George Butterworth and Percy Grainger.

Ploughboy's Dream


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Subject: RE: origin? RVW Danby hymn 'Tis Winter Now
From: Brian Peters
Date: 24 Feb 15 - 04:34 AM

Stanron: Yes, I agree about the misprint in bar 1 of the hymnary.org copy. Not quite sure I understand the point about the mode, though. In the hymnal the tune looks like G mixolydian (originally C in RVW's MS), but it finishes on the lower 5th, i.e. unresolved. By throwing a G chord into the harmony you create the impression of resolution, but I don't see how this compromises the mode of the melody.

There are some wax cylinder recordings made by RVW on the British Library sound archive site, but I can't find the Thomas Bowes song there.


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Subject: RE: origin? RVW Danby hymn 'Tis Winter Now
From: Brian Peters
Date: 24 Feb 15 - 06:15 AM

I was talking to Jackie Oates just last week about 'The Ploughboy's Dream', and she thinks it's a nice song too, so maybe I should have been less harsh in judging it. You can't fault the animal welfare sentiments, at least. It is a bit OTT, though.


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