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Origins: In the Bleak Midwinter

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Tune Req: In the Bleak Mid-winter (8)


fat B****rd 03 Mar 01 - 01:44 PM
Greyeyes 03 Mar 01 - 01:55 PM
McGrath of Harlow 03 Mar 01 - 04:57 PM
GUEST,Ickel Dorrit 03 Mar 01 - 05:42 PM
Grab 04 Mar 01 - 08:49 AM
Linda Kelly 04 Mar 01 - 11:45 AM
GUEST 04 Mar 01 - 02:58 PM
harpgirl 14 Dec 01 - 12:41 PM
Sandy Paton 14 Dec 01 - 12:47 PM
wysiwyg 14 Dec 01 - 12:53 PM
harpgirl 14 Dec 01 - 12:57 PM
Joe Offer 14 Dec 01 - 12:59 PM
Dicho (Frank Staplin) 14 Dec 01 - 01:01 PM
Dicho (Frank Staplin) 14 Dec 01 - 01:03 PM
Joe Offer 14 Dec 01 - 01:03 PM
Dicho (Frank Staplin) 14 Dec 01 - 01:30 PM
fat B****rd 15 Dec 01 - 06:50 AM
masato sakurai 16 Dec 01 - 04:57 AM
McGrath of Harlow 16 Dec 01 - 10:59 PM
Dicho (Frank Staplin) 16 Dec 01 - 11:47 PM
Joe Offer 17 Dec 01 - 12:41 AM
McGrath of Harlow 17 Dec 01 - 08:05 AM
Dicho (Frank Staplin) 17 Dec 01 - 11:17 AM
Dicho (Frank Staplin) 17 Dec 01 - 11:42 AM
Joe Offer 17 Dec 01 - 11:52 AM
Dicho (Frank Staplin) 17 Dec 01 - 11:56 AM
GUEST,JohnB 17 Dec 01 - 12:22 PM
Anglo 17 Dec 01 - 12:25 PM
masato sakurai 17 Dec 01 - 12:30 PM
Joe Offer 17 Dec 01 - 01:08 PM
Mary in Kentucky 17 Dec 01 - 01:18 PM
Joe Offer 17 Dec 01 - 01:29 PM
GUEST,McGrath of Harlow 17 Dec 01 - 01:31 PM
Mary in Kentucky 17 Dec 01 - 01:37 PM
Dicho (Frank Staplin) 17 Dec 01 - 01:53 PM
katlaughing 31 Dec 09 - 07:46 PM
Rumncoke 31 Dec 09 - 08:12 PM
Arkie 31 Dec 09 - 09:08 PM
katlaughing 31 Dec 09 - 10:42 PM
GUEST,David E. 31 Dec 09 - 11:10 PM
Jack Campin 01 Jan 10 - 09:21 AM
GUEST,leeneia 01 Jan 10 - 11:34 AM
Surreysinger 01 Jan 10 - 01:05 PM
Surreysinger 01 Jan 10 - 01:09 PM
ClaireBear 01 Jan 10 - 01:18 PM
Murray MacLeod 01 Jan 10 - 01:32 PM
McGrath of Harlow 01 Jan 10 - 02:23 PM
ClaireBear 01 Jan 10 - 02:31 PM
katlaughing 01 Jan 10 - 02:38 PM
Marje 01 Jan 10 - 02:47 PM
fat B****rd 01 Jan 10 - 03:52 PM
McGrath of Harlow 01 Jan 10 - 03:59 PM
katlaughing 01 Jan 10 - 04:14 PM
Surreysinger 01 Jan 10 - 04:34 PM
Young Buchan 01 Jan 10 - 04:37 PM
Murray MacLeod 01 Jan 10 - 04:58 PM
WalkaboutsVerse 01 Jan 10 - 05:02 PM
Murray MacLeod 01 Jan 10 - 05:06 PM
McGrath of Harlow 01 Jan 10 - 07:24 PM
Tradsinger 01 Jan 10 - 07:31 PM
Murray MacLeod 01 Jan 10 - 07:37 PM
McGrath of Harlow 01 Jan 10 - 07:48 PM
ClaireBear 01 Jan 10 - 07:55 PM
katlaughing 01 Jan 10 - 08:17 PM
Murray MacLeod 02 Jan 10 - 04:25 AM
WalkaboutsVerse 02 Jan 10 - 04:33 AM
Surreysinger 02 Jan 10 - 08:04 AM
Marje 02 Jan 10 - 08:43 AM
GUEST 12 Dec 11 - 10:16 AM
Arkie 12 Dec 11 - 03:46 PM
Georgiansilver 12 Dec 11 - 04:17 PM
John MacKenzie 12 Dec 11 - 04:29 PM
Jim McLean 13 Dec 11 - 05:01 AM
Marje 13 Dec 11 - 08:08 AM
Jim McLean 13 Dec 11 - 09:47 AM
greg stephens 13 Dec 11 - 12:01 PM
Marje 13 Dec 11 - 12:15 PM
Singing Referee 13 Dec 11 - 12:29 PM
Jim McLean 13 Dec 11 - 03:35 PM
andrew e 13 Dec 11 - 04:13 PM
Surreysinger 13 Dec 11 - 06:37 PM
Noreen 13 Dec 11 - 07:13 PM
Tattie Bogle 13 Dec 11 - 08:05 PM
Jim McLean 14 Dec 11 - 05:05 AM
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Subject: in the bleak midwinter
From: fat B****rd
Date: 03 Mar 01 - 01:44 PM

So I didn't want the chords to Small Town Talk anyway !!A copule of Christmases ago I was in Waterstones (English classy bookshop) in Guildford having a browse when a solo female voice came on the background music singing the above mentioned ITBM. It sounded like one of those long-haired, pretty midle-class girls that England turns out by the dozen (no offence intended, I'm just being descriptive. The guy behind the counter didn't know who it was, can anybody help, please all the best fB


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Subject: RE: BS: in the bleak midwinter
From: Greyeyes
Date: 03 Mar 01 - 01:55 PM

Charlotte Church? teenage soprano sensation. She has recorded ITBM, but it was on the album released just before Xmas 2000, so may not be the one you heard.


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Subject: RE: BS: in the bleak midwinter
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 03 Mar 01 - 04:57 PM

I've never noticed that long-haired girls sing any different from short-haired girls. That descripion doesn't really narrow down the field too well.

Could have been Charlotte Church. Could have been Maddy Prior, could have been Barbara Dickson. Could have been lots more.


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Subject: RE: BS: in the bleak midwinter
From: GUEST,Ickel Dorrit
Date: 03 Mar 01 - 05:42 PM

Its very frustrating when you hear a snippet of music and then spend the next four years trying to track it down usually by humming it in the ear of anyone daft enough to listen. I was in Whitby a couple of years ago, and was browsing around a small gallery, as you do, and this fabulous piece of music was being played. No one had any idea who it was and I pretty much got on everyone's nerves for about a year until I finally found out it was by Mark Knopfler and was the music from Last Exit to Brooklyn-God it was like coming home....


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Subject: RE: BS: in the bleak midwinter
From: Grab
Date: 04 Mar 01 - 08:49 AM

God it was like coming home....

Which is of course a completely different MK film theme. Or was that "Going home"? :-)

Grab.


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Subject: RE: BS: in the bleak midwinter
From: Linda Kelly
Date: 04 Mar 01 - 11:45 AM

Was that the one from Local Hero?


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Subject: RE: BS: in the bleak midwinter
From: GUEST
Date: 04 Mar 01 - 02:58 PM

I think CC is the most likely. She's 14/15 now, and came on to the music scene in a big way a coule of years ago. There's a "tradition " of having a Christmas special record by the latest young star(remember Aled Jones?)She does have a gorgeous voice.


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Subject: Lyric. Req.: In The Bleak Midwinter
From: harpgirl
Date: 14 Dec 01 - 12:41 PM

Hey, I see a number of references to this song in the Forum but no words to it. Christina Rosseti, a nineteenth century poem????? Susan, Animaterra...anyone?


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Subject: RE: BS: in the bleak midwinter
From: Sandy Paton
Date: 14 Dec 01 - 12:47 PM

Cathy Barton sings it on Folk-Legacy's "'Twas On a Night Like This" (CD-114). Check our web site, click on the image of the CD there on the opening page.

Sandy


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Subject: RE: BS: in the bleak midwinter
From: wysiwyg
Date: 14 Dec 01 - 12:53 PM

HG, I just set up a link to it in the autoharp thread! *G* Pick a key and I'll post it.

~S~


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Subject: RE: BS: in the bleak midwinter
From: harpgirl
Date: 14 Dec 01 - 12:57 PM

...any key will do, Susan. How about whatever you've got?

Thanks Sandy. You're up early!!!


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Subject: ADD: In the Bleak Midwinter^^^
From: Joe Offer
Date: 14 Dec 01 - 12:59 PM

If you check at one of the online CD dealers, a song search for bleak midwinter will tell you the song has been recorded by about thirteen dozen women with middle-class English accents. I'm most familiar with the Julie Andrews recording, but even Cyndi Lauper did it. Nice song.
-Joe Offer-


Just so we have it and can search for it, here it is. I don't think I'll harvest it for the Digital Tradition.

IN THE BLEAK MIDWINTER
(Christina Rossetti)

In the bleak midwinter,
frosty wind made moan,
earth stood hard as iron,
water like a stone;
snow had fallen, snow on snow,
snow on snow,
in the bleak midwinter,
long ago.

Our God, heaven cannot hold him
nor earth sustain;
heaven and earth shall flee away
when he comes to reign:
in the bleak midwinter
a stable place sufficed
the Lord God incarnate,
Jesus Christ.

Angels and archangels
may have gathered there
cherubim and seraphim
thronged the air;
but his mother only,
in her maiden bliss,
worshiped the beloved
with a kiss.

What can I give him,
poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd,
I would bring a lamb;
if I were a wise man,
I would do my part;
yet what I can I give him
give my heart.

Words: Christina Rossetti, 1872 ^^^


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Subject: RE: BS: in the bleak midwinter
From: Dicho (Frank Staplin)
Date: 14 Dec 01 - 01:01 PM

Words and chords in the thread Christmas songs. Music by Holst. Thread 3225#15845. Let me try this.
Christmas Songs


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Subject: RE: In the Bleak Midwinter
From: Dicho (Frank Staplin)
Date: 14 Dec 01 - 01:03 PM

It worked. It was posted by Alison.


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Subject: RE: In the Bleak Midwinter
From: Joe Offer
Date: 14 Dec 01 - 01:03 PM

Dang! I searched, but I missed the song because there was a hyphen in mid-winter....
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: BS: in the bleak midwinter
From: Dicho (Frank Staplin)
Date: 14 Dec 01 - 01:30 PM

That hyphen is a problem. They were standard in the 19C but for most words were gradually dropped through time.
This song is very popular at Christmas time. People have told me it's old Scots, translated Dutch, etc. The composer of the music, Gustav Holst (English-born in spite of the name) is known for his symphonic works, inc. "The Planets," parts of which show up in films like 2001.


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Subject: RE: BS: in the bleak midwinter
From: fat B****rd
Date: 15 Dec 01 - 06:50 AM

Well,well ,well. Just goes to show that you should never underestimate the 'cat. I'll check out the references made. Thankyou, all the best from The fB


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Subject: RE: BS: in the bleak midwinter
From: masato sakurai
Date: 16 Dec 01 - 04:57 AM

Though the Holst version is shown in most carol books including The Oxford Book of Carols (1928, no. 187, titled "Mid-Winter") and hymnals (The English Hymnal; Hymns Ancient and Modern), Harold Darke's composition has been recorded on many CDs (9 in front of me). Both scores are in The New Oxford Book of Carols (1992, no. 111), its Shorter edition (no. 63), and 100 Carols for Choirs (Oxford, nos. 39 & 40). There's one more, composed by William Llewellyn, in The Novello Book of Carols, part 1 (1986, no. 29); it's on Worcester Cathedral Choir's Joy to the World CD.

~Masato


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Subject: RE: BS: in the bleak midwinter
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 16 Dec 01 - 10:59 PM

Hyphens dropped from words? Not in dictionaries over here anyway. Some word, yes. But new hyphenated ones keep on coming along.

What amazes me with this song is why so many people persist in singing the first line of the second verse the way Christina Rossetti wrote it, which with Holst's tune is virtually unsingable, no matter how people manage to struggle through it.

It works far better just as "Heaven cannot hold him", and means exactly the same. It's a lovely song, both words and tune, and deserves to be allowed to adjust itself so that the words fit the tune properly.


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Subject: RE: BS: in the bleak midwinter
From: Dicho (Frank Staplin)
Date: 16 Dec 01 - 11:47 PM

Mcgrath, both the OED and Webster's Collegiate put it midwinter, with the hyphenated form in the also rans. You are just out-of-date- but so am I because I put the - in when I searched.


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Subject: RE: BS: in the bleak midwinter
From: Joe Offer
Date: 17 Dec 01 - 12:41 AM

OK, so the Holst tune is here (click). I wonder if I can find a MIDI of the tune by Darke.
So far, no luck.
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: BS: in the bleak midwinter
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 17 Dec 01 - 08:05 AM

Pedantic note: Dicho, I wasn't querying the absence of the hyphen in "midwinter", I was questioning whether it's true to say of hyphens in general "They were standard in the 19C but for most words were gradually dropped through time." I don't fancy doing a count of words in dictionaries of the 19th century and the 21st to settle the point, but there still seem an awful lot around.

Of course, if you were a contestant in Countdown on TV, this kind of thing makes all the difference. Otherwise it seems pretty flexible. I mean, who cares if it's e-mail or email?


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Subject: RE: BS: in the bleak midwinter
From: Dicho (Frank Staplin)
Date: 17 Dec 01 - 11:17 AM

Never thought of the Cyberhymnal. The Holst tune is the one I have always heard.


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Subject: RE: BS: in the bleak midwinter
From: Dicho (Frank Staplin)
Date: 17 Dec 01 - 11:42 AM

Many choirs have recorded the Darke version. I can't find a midi. I wonder how close it is to the Holst version. The choir of King' College, Cambridge, has it on A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols (EMI). Winchester has a cd out with it also.


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Subject: Tune Add: IN THE BLEAK MID-WINTER
From: Joe Offer
Date: 17 Dec 01 - 11:52 AM

I made a MIDITEXT of the basic Darke tune, which I found in The Shorter New Oxford Book of Carols (with the longer name). Can't say I've ever heard it, but SNOBC contends it is superior to the Holst tune.
-Joe Offer-

MIDI file: BLEKMDWN.MID

Timebase: 192

Name: In the Bleak Mid-winter
Text: By Christina Rossetti - Harold Arrke
Copyright: Copyright © Stainer & Bell, Ltd.
Key: G
TimeSig: 4/4 24 8
Start
0000 1 71 110 0256 0 71 000 0032 1 69 110 0094 0 69 000 0002 1 74 110 0160 0 74 000 0032 1 71 110 0160 0 71 000 0032 1 67 110 0336 0 67 000 0048 1 66 110 0336 0 66 000 0048 1 64 110 0256 0 64 000 0032 1 66 110 0094 0 66 000 0002 1 67 110 0160 0 67 000 0032 1 64 110 0160 0 64 000 0032 1 62 110 0720 0 62 000 0048 1 67 110 0256 0 67 000 0032 1 67 110 0094 0 67 000 0002 1 71 110 0160 0 71 000 0032 1 67 110 0160 0 67 000 0032 1 76 110 0336 0 76 000 0048 1 74 110 0336 0 74 000 0048 1 71 110 0160 0 71 000 0032 1 69 110 0160 0 69 000 0032 1 74 110 0256 0 74 000 0032 1 67 110 0094 0 67 000 0002 1 72 110 0720 0 72 000 0048 1 71 110 0256 0 71 000 0032 1 69 110 0094 0 69 000 0002 1 74 110 0160 0 74 000 0032 1 67 110 0160 0 67 000 0032 1 65 110 0256 0 65 000 0032 1 64 110 0094 0 64 000 0002 1 64 110 0336 0 64 000 0048 1 67 110 0384 0 67 000 0000 1 72 110 0160 0 72 000 0032 1 64 110 0160 0 64 000 0032 1 62 110 0720 0 62 000 0048 1 67 110 0256 0 67 000 0032 1 69 110 0094 0 69 000 0002 1 71 110 0160 0 71 000 0032 1 67 110 0160 0 67 000 0032 1 67 110 0192 0 67 000 0000 1 69 110 0160 0 69 000 0032 1 71 110 0192 0 71 000 0000 1 72 110 0160 0 72 000 0032 1 74 110 0720 0 74 000 0048 1 74 110 0528 0 74 000 0048 1 71 110 0160 0 71 000 0032 1 67 110 0720 0 67 000
End

This program is worth the effort of learning it.

To download the latest version of MIDItext and get instructions on how to use it click here

ABC format:

X:1
T:In the Bleak Mid-winter
M:4/4
Q:1/4=120
K:G
B3Ad2B2|G4F4|E3FG2E2|D8|G3GB2G2|e4d4|B2A2d3G|
c8|B3Ad2G2|=F3EE4|G4c2E2|D8|G3AB2G2|G2A2B2c2|
d8|d6B2|G15/2||


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Subject: RE: In the Bleak Midwinter
From: Dicho (Frank Staplin)
Date: 17 Dec 01 - 11:56 AM

Sheet music for the Holst version, with midi, on:
www.rememberjosie.org/carols/index.asp


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Subject: RE: In the Bleak Midwinter
From: GUEST,JohnB
Date: 17 Dec 01 - 12:22 PM

I may be screwed up here but I think that the Darke version is an arrangement of the Holst tune. There is another completely different tune which this is sung to as well, though I can't remember who wrote that one. Just going from memory, no music here at work. Johnb


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Subject: RE: In the Bleak Midwinter
From: Anglo
Date: 17 Dec 01 - 12:25 PM

Shawn Colvin appeared on US TV over the weekend singing this in a Boston Pops concert, which also featured the Chieftains & Natalie MacMaster. She sang the Holst version (unattributed to Holst, credited "arr. Colvin/Petty" - I assume that's her pianist). I believe she's recorded it. I don't recommend it.


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Subject: RE: In the Bleak Midwinter
From: masato sakurai
Date: 17 Dec 01 - 12:30 PM

Darke's "In the Bleak Midwinter" sung by The Choir of St Mary's Episcopal Cathedral, Edinburgh is HERE and HERE. Score (PDF sample page) is HERE.
~Masato


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Subject: RE: In the Bleak Midwinter
From: Joe Offer
Date: 17 Dec 01 - 01:08 PM

That's a beautiful recording, Masato. I think it's quite different from the Holst tune, but maybe not different enough to attract notice. I think the Holst tune is certainly more memorable.
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: In the Bleak Midwinter
From: Mary in Kentucky
Date: 17 Dec 01 - 01:18 PM

Once again Masato has found some fabulous links! Joe, I can't hear it on this computer, but I'll make a midi for you (the DT) from the pdf file.


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Subject: RE: In the Bleak Midwinter
From: Joe Offer
Date: 17 Dec 01 - 01:29 PM

er...Mary, please note above that I already made and posted a MIDI....
-Joe-


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Subject: RE: In the Bleak Midwinter
From: GUEST,McGrath of Harlow
Date: 17 Dec 01 - 01:31 PM

If it was a folk song, I'd call the Darke a variant of the Holst tune. I note that it still doesn't get over the problem of including the words "Our God" in the second line, which means rushing the rest of the line uncomfortably.

I think Christina Rossetti would have been with me in thinking it better with the line shortened.(After all when she wrote it, the tune wouldn't have been in her mind.)

When it comes up in carol services (and I'm always pleased when it does), I tend to take a break at that line and come in with it as "Heaven cannot hold him - and I think most people in the congregation do the same. If there's a choir, let them worry about singing the impossible version.


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Subject: RE: In the Bleak Midwinter
From: Mary in Kentucky
Date: 17 Dec 01 - 01:37 PM

Skipped right over that Joe...can you easily convert that to the midi file for the DT?
Yep - no problemo, mi amiga.
Jose


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Subject: RE: In the Bleak Midwinter
From: Dicho (Frank Staplin)
Date: 17 Dec 01 - 01:53 PM

Great, Masato! I agree, Joe; the Holst "original" is the bleaker of the two, hence my preference. The Harold Darke version, however, is good for a youthful choir.


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Subject: RE: In the Bleak Midwinter
From: katlaughing
Date: 31 Dec 09 - 07:46 PM

There is a beautiful instrumental of this on youtube by Loreena McKennit. I looked for the lyrics through the supersearch and got zilch. I put "bleak midwinter" in the thread title box search and set the date to "all" and found this. Is it supposed to be in the DT now?

Thanks for all of the info. I love this tune.


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Subject: RE: In the Bleak Midwinter
From: Rumncoke
Date: 31 Dec 09 - 08:12 PM

I sang this at school in Yorkshire - fifty years ago - and our pianist used to take it at quite a lick, non of the doleful dirges sometimes heard.

It was quite easy to sing the second verse because the music had a 'bom bom' between verses, filled in between first and second verses but not subsequently.

Anne Croucher


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Subject: RE: In the Bleak Midwinter
From: Arkie
Date: 31 Dec 09 - 09:08 PM

One of my favorite Christmas hymns and more good versions are appearing it seems. Have heard good versions from Moody Blues, James Taylor, Michael Martin Murphy, Mollie O'Brien, Diane Taraz, and Steeleye Span. James Taylor changed the words a bit.


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Subject: RE: In the Bleak Midwinter
From: katlaughing
Date: 31 Dec 09 - 10:42 PM

The links above are out of date, so here is a lovely video of Darke's version on YOUTUBE by the Winchester Cathedral Choir.

I have heard this one, but I have to say I love Holtz's version much better.

There is one of it by Kings College Cambridge HERE.


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Subject: RE: In the Bleak Midwinter
From: GUEST,David E.
Date: 31 Dec 09 - 11:10 PM

And was once a Christmas single by Bert Jansch. Anyone remember singles?

David E.


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Subject: RE: In the Bleak Midwinter
From: Jack Campin
Date: 01 Jan 10 - 09:21 AM

Here's another variation on it:


X:1
T:Midwinter Waltz
C:Dave Richardson
M:3/4
L:1/8
K:G
   GA|B3c d2|d3B A2|A3B A2|G4
[1 EG|A3B A2|A3B A2|G3A Bc|A4:|
[2 EG|A3B A2|A3B A2|G3A G2|G4:|
   AB|c3B c2|c3B c2|e3d e2|A3B
   c2|d3e d2|B3A G2|A3B G2|A4
[1 AB|c3B c2|c3B c2|e3d e2|A3B
   c2|d3e d2|B3A G2|A3B A2|G4:|
[2 GA|B3c d2|d3B A2|A3B A2|G4
   EG|A3B A2|A3B A2|G3A G2|G4|]


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Subject: RE: In the Bleak Midwinter
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 01 Jan 10 - 11:34 AM

I agree with you, kat. I like the Holst version better too.

In fact, I consider the Darke version tuneless and hard to sing. Listen to the choir boys at Winchester carefully and note how out of tune they are on the word 'stone.' It's an unnatural interval, and it's hard to hit.


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Subject: RE: In the Bleak Midwinter
From: Surreysinger
Date: 01 Jan 10 - 01:05 PM

Sorry - can't agree. The Darke version was the only one I had ever sung until I joined adult choirs in the 1970's. As far as I am concerned it's the PROPER tune to the poem. I find the Holst rather sweet and to be frank twee... give me the Darke version every time. Unfortunately, you don't hear it that often, as everyone usually "does" the Holst version and makes a complete hash of it. Having had to sing it over the years in various choirs I can't say that I have ever found the "Our God heaven cannot hold him" a particular problem. It's just a rather ugly line which is never going to sit too well with whichever tune is used,and the problem doesn't lie with the first two words but with the word heaven, the last vowel of which needs to be thrown away rather than pronounced. There's more of a problem with what to do with the word "iron" in the first verse IMHO! Thanks for the Winchester video of the Darke version by the way, even if it is rather a strange one (why do they hang onto the word LONG so long in the first verse - certainly not the way it's written!)


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Subject: RE: In the Bleak Midwinter
From: Surreysinger
Date: 01 Jan 10 - 01:09 PM

I was intrigued to google for further information. It seems the Darke version was voted the best carol of all time in 2008 by a panel of choral arrangers and choral conductors. Additonally, there are quite a few more than three settings of the poem. Herewith the Wikipedia paragraph on that point:

"The text of this Christmas poem has been set to music many times, the most famous settings being composed by Gustav Holst and Harold Edwin Darke in the early 20th century. There is another settingâ€"less well knownâ€"from the same era, by Thomas B. Strong. Benjamin Britten includes a setting for chorus in his work "A Boy Was Born". Eric Thiman wrote a setting for solo voice and piano. More recently Bob Chilcott, at one time a member of The King's Singers, wrote a choral setting entitled "Mid-winter". Another recent setting is that by a Canadian, Robert C L Watson. The Holst version has been recorded by a number of popular recording artists, including Bert Jansch, Julie Andrews in 1982, Allison Crowe in 2004, Maire Brennan in 2005 and Sarah McLachlan in 2006, as well as by many choirs including the Robert Shaw Chorale and the choir of St. John's College, Cambridge. The Darke version, with its beautiful and delicate organ accompaniment, has also gained popularity among choirs in recent years, after the King's College Choir included it on its radio broadcasts of the Nine Lessons and Carols. (Incidentally, Darke served as conductor of the choir during World War II.) A new musical setting by Jane Duzan Eubanks was premiered Christmas Eve 2009 at St John's Church, Randolph VT."


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Subject: RE: In the Bleak Midwinter
From: ClaireBear
Date: 01 Jan 10 - 01:18 PM

I always think of this as "the Breastfeeding Carol" and love it dearly, but I'm disappointed that its most intimate verse is left out of so many church hymnals. Indeed, it isn't in the lyrics that Joe posted above, although it is in Allison's:

Enough for him whom cherubim worship night and day,
A breast full of milk and a manger full of hay:
Enough for Him whom angels fall down before,
The wise men and the shepherds who adore.


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Subject: RE: In the Bleak Midwinter
From: Murray MacLeod
Date: 01 Jan 10 - 01:32 PM

I always associate this carol with Barbara Dickson, who sang only the first verse, and then segued beautifully into "Here Comes the Sun".

A musical stroke of genius ...


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Subject: RE: In the Bleak Midwinter
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 01 Jan 10 - 02:23 PM

I think Barbara Dickson's version gains enormoyusly by here choosing to sing "midwinter" with a short second syllable, the same way the word is pronounced when it is spoken, rather than stretching it out the way it is generally done in when this is sung.

The hymn books I'm familiar with( Catholic ones) fortunately always seem to have the verse Claire Bear mention. Strange how censorship creeps in.

Another carol verse that we always sing, which seems, for some reason, to have been removed from some hymn books, is from Oh Little Town of Bethlehem:

Where children pure and happy
Pray to the blessed Child,
Where misery cries out to thee,
Son of the mother mild;
Where charity stands watching
And faith holds wide the door
The dark night wakes, the glory breaks,
And Christmas comes once more.


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Subject: RE: In the Bleak Midwinter
From: ClaireBear
Date: 01 Jan 10 - 02:31 PM

Roman Catholic, McGrath? That's interesting. I had assumed otherwise, because (another assumption) I figured that a Catholic hymnal would be where Joe would look first, and he didn't post that verse.

That verse is definitely omitted from the major Episcopal hymnal ), to my lasting regret.

C


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Subject: RE: In the Bleak Midwinter
From: katlaughing
Date: 01 Jan 10 - 02:38 PM

Such prudes. I didn't expect that of the Episcopalians.

Murray, thanks for the link. That was really neat!


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Subject: RE: In the Bleak Midwinter
From: Marje
Date: 01 Jan 10 - 02:47 PM

Surreysinger: why do so many English people have such a problem with "iron"? They seem to pronounce it as if it were spelt "ion" or "iorn".
Scottish and Irish speakers pronounce it to rhyme with "siren" or "Byron", and then there's no problem about how to fit it into two syllables.

Marje


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Subject: RE: In the Bleak Midwinter
From: fat B****rd
Date: 01 Jan 10 - 03:52 PM

Hello, almost 9 years later and I've got a beautiful version by Alison Crowe.


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Subject: ADD: The Ploughboy's Dream
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 01 Jan 10 - 03:59 PM

No problem with "heaven" if it's pronounced "heav'n".
..................
I tried looking up Oh Little Town of Bethleham in a Moody and Sankey collection printed back in the 1890s, and found that the verse I mentioned was missed out then - but the Oxford Book of Carols (edited by Ralph Vaughan Williams) has always included it. Incidentally the Oxford Book of Carols mentions that the tune is "The Ploughboy's Dream - and a Google search came up with the words for that, and here they are, and very singable I'd say. And shows a very encouraging concern for animal welfare as well:

THE PLOUGHBOY'S DREAM

I am a ploughboy stout and strong as ever drove a team
And three years since as I lay a-bed I had a dreadful dream
I dreamt I drove my master's team three horses travelled far
Before a stiff and armoured plough as all my masters are.

I found the ground was baked so hard 'twas more like bricks than clay
I could not cut my furrow through nor would my beasts obey
The more I whipped and slashed and swore the less my horses tried
Dobbin lay down and Belle and Star ignored my threats and cries.

Till low above me appeared a youth he seemed to hang in air
And all around a dazzling light which made my eyes to stare
"Give over cruel wretch" he cried "do not thy beasts abuse
Think if the ground was not so hard they would their work refuse".

"Besides I heard thee curse and swear as if dumb beasts could know
Just what your oaths and cursing meant it's better far than gold
That you should know that there is one who knows thy sins full well
And what shall be thy after doom another shall thee tell."

No more he said but light as air he vanished from my sight
And with him went the sun's bright beams 'twas all as dark as night
The thunder roared from underground the earth it seemed to gape
Blue flames broke forth and in those flames appeared an awful shape.

"I soon shall call thee mine" he cried with a voice so clear and deep
And quivering like an Aspen leaf I woke out of my sleep
So ponder well you ploughboys all this dream that I have told
And if the work goes hard with you its worth your wage in gold.


I've never come across this - but I here's a YouTube clip of a rather strange arrangement from 1974 by a band called Gryphon

Pull on a loose thread and youn never know where you might end up...


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Subject: RE: In the Bleak Midwinter
From: katlaughing
Date: 01 Jan 10 - 04:14 PM

Very interesting, McGrath, esp. some of the "sound effects." Neat song, though!


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Subject: RE: In the Bleak Midwinter
From: Surreysinger
Date: 01 Jan 10 - 04:34 PM

Interesting clip of Gryphon - I wonder why they didn't use the correct tune? In fact the real thing has been much more recently recorded by Coope Boyes and SImpson on their CD Triple Echo - with the tune that we're all familiar with.

Marje - "Surreysinger: why do so many English people have such a problem with "iron"? They seem to pronounce it as if it were spelt "ion" or "iorn"." Errmm, Marje, simply because that _is_ the way that we pronounce it when speaking proper! So singing it as "eye-ron" sounds badly wrong and over the top, and foreign. And results in hesitancy in pronunciation, and lack of conformity of vowels


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Subject: RE: In the Bleak Midwinter
From: Young Buchan
Date: 01 Jan 10 - 04:37 PM

I refuse to let a thread with this title go past without appealing to every one of you who can find the video, and has ancient enough technology to play it, to watch Branagh's b/w film In The Bleak Midwinter. OK, the plot creaks like a privvy door. And Branagh isn't actually in it. But it's LOVELY. Look down, look down at my bed foot./You'll see a basin stand there./ That basin's full of tears I shed/While watching stuff by Branagh.


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Subject: RE: In the Bleak Midwinter
From: Murray MacLeod
Date: 01 Jan 10 - 04:58 PM

It would hardly do for this thread to pass without some pedant pointing out the extreme poetic licence which Ms. Rosetti saw fit to indulge in when penning the first stanza:

In the bleak midwinter,
frosty wind made moan,
earth stood hard as iron,
water like a stone;
snow had fallen, snow on snow,
snow on snow,
in the bleak midwinter,
long ago.

I have just checked the weather forecast for Bethlehem (Israel, not PA) and the temperature tomorrow is expected to reach 21 degrees Celsius (70 degrees Fahrenheit)

Is there any reason to suppose that the climate was any different in December between 1 BC and 1 AD ?

I don't think we need to sympathise retrospectively with Baby Jesus an account of his nursery conditions, temperature-wise at any rate ...


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Subject: RE: In the Bleak Midwinter
From: WalkaboutsVerse
Date: 01 Jan 10 - 05:02 PM

Finding this carol ethnocentric (i.e., whenever I've checked the temperature, at Christmas, in Bethlehem, it's been about 15 degrees celsius) is one of the reasons I penned this...

Poem 230 of 230: AS GOSPELLERS HAVE SAID/CHRISTMAS SUNG SIMPLY

(TUNE:

D A B A G E
E E D G F# G
D A B A G E
D A B A G E
E E D G F# G
D A B A G E
E E D G F# G

D A B A G E
E D G F# G
D A B A G E
E D G F# G)

As gospellers have said,
Beneath signalling skies,
On land dusty to tread,
A trough in a stable
Was the strawy first-bed
Of a divine baby -
The forgiving Godhead.

A season for new hope -
There then, and here now;
The yuletide of goodwill -
There then, and here now.

In respect of this chance,
Beneath bright or dark skies,
Faith's the star that we glance
Attending Christ's churches
And trying to enhance,
With singing and ritual,
Our God-loving stance.

A...

From http://blogs.myspace.com/walkaboutsverse (e-book)
Or http://walkaboutsverse.sitegoz.com (e-scroll)
(C) David Franks 2003


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Subject: RE: In the Bleak Midwinter
From: Murray MacLeod
Date: 01 Jan 10 - 05:06 PM

That's a lot of alternate tunings, WV ...


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Subject: RE: In the Bleak Midwinter
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 01 Jan 10 - 07:24 PM

Well, it was quite sunny today in Harlow and a week ago the place was deep in snow.

Here's a page with some pictures of Bethlehem in the snow
: "Three days later, Bethlehem had its annual snow day. It was coming down pretty good. Since Bethlehem is built on hills, the snow almost totally stopped traffic. I walked around and took photos. Got into a few halfhearted snowball fights."

People have this assumption that it's always sunny out in the Holy Land, and it's not true.


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Subject: RE: In the Bleak Midwinter
From: Tradsinger
Date: 01 Jan 10 - 07:31 PM

It may interest you to know that Holst, who was born in Gloucestershire, named the tune 'Cranham' which is the name of an exceptionally pretty Gloucestershire village with an exceptionally good pub which welcomes live music. I have sung the carol in the Stroud valley with the lights of Cranham in the distance. Very atmospheric.

Tradsinger


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Subject: RE: In the Bleak Midwinter
From: Murray MacLeod
Date: 01 Jan 10 - 07:37 PM

A snowfall doesn't make for the nuclear winter portrayed in Rosetti's poem, Kevin.

frosty wind made moan ?
earth stood hard as iron ?
water like a stone ?

I don't think so.


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Subject: RE: In the Bleak Midwinter
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 01 Jan 10 - 07:48 PM

Just try sleeping rough in it, Murray...


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Subject: RE: In the Bleak Midwinter
From: ClaireBear
Date: 01 Jan 10 - 07:55 PM

Have you ever been in a desert at night? Brrrrr!


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Subject: RE: In the Bleak Midwinter
From: katlaughing
Date: 01 Jan 10 - 08:17 PM

Hmmm...let us see:


frosty wind made moan ?


Did the wind really moan or did it make someone else moan. If the latter, it may have just unnerved them. Or, perhaps they had a fever and it *felt* frosty to them. Or, maybe Rossetti didn't have the resources we do to know what the weather was like OR she was using poetic license!:-)

earth stood hard as iron ? Ever tried to dig in the desert, esp. if the sand is hard-packed? Standing hard needn't mean frozen cold.

water like a stone ?

This one has me flummoxed, too. Even ice doesn't seem like stone to me, so this one is anybody's guess IF you want to pick it apart.

So, Murray, have at it...what else bugs you about it?


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Subject: RE: In the Bleak Midwinter
From: Murray MacLeod
Date: 02 Jan 10 - 04:25 AM

Hey Kat, I love the carol, me.

Just exercising my right to pedantry.

Strangely enough, I have never been involved in desert excavation at night, (or in the daytime either for that matter), but I do realise that it can get cold in the desert at night, although maybe not quite to the Arctic extent described by Ms. Rosetti.


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Subject: RE: In the Bleak Midwinter
From: WalkaboutsVerse
Date: 02 Jan 10 - 04:33 AM

From: Murray MacLeod - PM
Date: 01 Jan 10 - 05:06 PM

"That's a lot of alternate tunings, WV ..."...fair comment but, then, so do some English trad carols - e.g. the "Sans Day Carol". Anyway, if you wish to hear if it works - myspace player .

From: McGrath of Harlow - PM
Date: 01 Jan 10 - 07:24 PM

"Well, it was quite sunny today in Harlow and a week ago the place was deep in snow.

Here's a page with some pictures of Bethlehem in the snow: "Three days later, Bethlehem had its annual snow day. It was coming down pretty good. Since Bethlehem is built on hills, the snow almost totally stopped traffic. I walked around and took photos. Got into a few halfhearted snowball fights."

People have this assumption that it's always sunny out in the Holy Land, and it's not true."...I noticed that was dated in February, and admit that, if so, it's quite good evidence to the contrary...but I wonder if there is any record of a "white Christmas" in Bethlehem?..surely, if so, that would be on the web somewhere..?


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Subject: RE: In the Bleak Midwinter
From: Surreysinger
Date: 02 Jan 10 - 08:04 AM

Young Buchan - I agree - great film! I have the video which I managed to purchase in a charity shop after much hunting for it. Must go and watch it again now you've put the idea in my head!


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Subject: RE: In the Bleak Midwinter
From: Marje
Date: 02 Jan 10 - 08:43 AM

Surreysinger: OK, stick to "ion" or "iorn" if you like, but don't be surprised if it doesn't form two distinct syllables as it seems to have done at the time the verse was written. Older pronuncations are often closer to the spelling, and far from being "foreign", they go back for centuries. It still comes very naturally to many hundreds of thousands of native speakers of English to say "i-ron", as written, and in this case it makes the song more singable.

And as for the Global Warming issue - I think Rosetti would have been perfectly aware that Bethlehem did not suffer freezing cold winters. The poem was written for an audience for whom Christmas was closely associated with the depths of winter, and she's simply linking the Christan imagery to the climate and weather that we generally experience during the festive season. Poetic licence - why not? It's a song, not a historical account.

Marje


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Subject: ADD Version: In the Bleak Midwinter
From: GUEST
Date: 12 Dec 11 - 10:16 AM

Well that time of year has come round again and I fancy singing the BMW song. Didn't quite have the stamina to read all of the above but I note 1) that people have trouble fitting the words to the tune and 2) some people are not impressed by the poem either. I have to agree, I don't like all that theology in the middle, though the first and last verses have some merit. So in the spirit of the tradition I would like to offer my rewrite- it has a new middle verse and you can sing it to the tune!


IN THE BLEAK MIDWINTER
(Christina Rossetti)

In the bleak mid-winter
Frosty wind made moan;
Earth stood hard as iron,
Water hard as stone;
Snow on snow had fallen,
Snow on snow on snow,
In the bleak mid-winter,
Many years ago.

In a distant country,
In a cattle shed,
Ox and ass to tend him,
Straw to make his bed.
Milk and bread to feed him,
Hay to keep him warm.
In a land of strangers,
Shelter from the storm.

Just what can I give him,
Poor man that I am?
If I were a shepherd
I would give a lamb;
If I were a wise man
I would do my part;
Yet what I can I give him?
I will give my heart.


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Subject: RE: In the Bleak Midwinter
From: Arkie
Date: 12 Dec 11 - 03:46 PM

In the Bleak Midwinter is a beautiful poem and has been set to a beautiful tune. It expresses the poet's vision of an event they believe to be important. It is not passed off as a historical account. Nor should it be considered theologically accurate or appropriate. It is a poem expressing the vision of the poet.


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Subject: RE: In the Bleak Midwinter
From: Georgiansilver
Date: 12 Dec 11 - 04:17 PM

Love this version of ~In The Bleak Mid Winter.


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Subject: RE: In the Bleak Midwinter
From: John MacKenzie
Date: 12 Dec 11 - 04:29 PM

This, is my favourite tune, by Harold Darke.


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Subject: RE: In the Bleak Midwinter
From: Jim McLean
Date: 13 Dec 11 - 05:01 AM

II had a quick scan of this thread and don't know if I missed something but Holst wrote the original tune and Darke's version is an arrangement/setting of this, not a different tune.


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Subject: RE: In the Bleak Midwinter
From: Marje
Date: 13 Dec 11 - 08:08 AM

No, Darke's tune is a different melody, not just a different setting. It uses exactly the same rhythm and has a somewhat different chord sequence, so you couldn't even sing the two versions together. If you listen to the two links above you can hear the two different tunes.

Marje


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Subject: RE: In the Bleak Midwinter
From: Jim McLean
Date: 13 Dec 11 - 09:47 AM

I'm sorry to disagree Marje. As someone pointed out a few threads back, if we were discussing a trad folk song, then there would be no doubt that Darke's version is well and truly based on Holst's original setting of Rossetti's poem. Which is better is a matter of personal taste.


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Subject: RE: In the Bleak Midwinter
From: greg stephens
Date: 13 Dec 11 - 12:01 PM

I'm with Jim on that. Darke's version is undoubtedly what you'd call a variant, if they were both folk songs. It sounds as if someone had had heard the Holst tune a couple of times thirty years ago, and tried to reconstruct it from memory. I think Darke had a bit of a nerve really, writing a "new" tune that was so like a pastiche of the original. If it works, don't mend it would have been the better principle here, leave Holst alone!


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Subject: RE: In the Bleak Midwinter
From: Marje
Date: 13 Dec 11 - 12:15 PM

Well, it's not easy to prove that they're different, but here goes with some examples:

The Holst tune uses the same distinctive phrase (rising from the 3rd of the scale up to the 5th and then down to the tonic)for the beginning of the first, second and fourth lines; the Darke tune does not use this phrase at all, but uses three different bits of melody for those three sections. At the end of the second line, the Holst tune goes back to the tonic chord (is that what you call it? 1,3,5 of the scale)whereas this chord would clash if you played it with the Darke tune. And then Darke uses that flattened seventh in the third line, which doesn't correspond to anything in the Holst tune. And so on.

I agree that in many ways Darke's tunes seems like a badly-remembered reconstruction of Holst's, but what he ends up with is a different (and less good) melody with a different harmonic structure.

Marje


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Subject: RE: In the Bleak Midwinter
From: Singing Referee
Date: 13 Dec 11 - 12:29 PM

I agree with Marje, they are different melodies, but I appear to be in the minority in preferring Darke's.

I like to sing the two tunes to alternate verses and see if anyone spots the difference. Takes bit of practice though, not to get confused.


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Subject: RE: In the Bleak Midwinter
From: Jim McLean
Date: 13 Dec 11 - 03:35 PM

Marje says it's not easy to spot the difference and the Singing Referee says he likes to sing alternate verses to the two tunes to see if anyone spots the difference, and yet both say they are different tunes!


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Subject: RE: In the Bleak Midwinter
From: andrew e
Date: 13 Dec 11 - 04:13 PM

It's a different tune!
The timing is pretty much the same, which makes them sound so similar at first, till you get to the last line of each verse.
The Harold Darke version is a choir piece with organ part, has a tenor solo, and the Gustav Holst is more suitable for a congregation.
I like and have sung them both.


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Subject: RE: In the Bleak Midwinter
From: Surreysinger
Date: 13 Dec 11 - 06:37 PM

It's hardly surprising that the timing is pretty much the same, as they are both settings of the same poem. As to the tune, for me Darke is the better of the two, and was the one I was brought up on at school. As a choral singer I have sung both versions over the years (the Darke, sadly, less often) and have never really liked the Holst version.

There are, of course, other versions of it, most notably Benjamin Britten's as part of his work "A Boy is Born". More recently a new setting was composed by Robin Doveton


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Subject: RE: In the Bleak Midwinter
From: Noreen
Date: 13 Dec 11 - 07:13 PM

Jim, if you look again you will see that Marje says "...it's not easy to prove that they're different" which is very different from what you reported her as saying- on the contrary, she goes on to explain the differences between the two tunes (which is what I think they are).

I prefer the original tune, perhaps because this is the one I grew up with- my favourite carol.


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Subject: RE: In the Bleak Midwinter
From: Tattie Bogle
Date: 13 Dec 11 - 08:05 PM

After so much discussion about the tunes, let's get the words right. (posted correctly at least twice on this thread., so no issue with that.)
But how often do you hear folk sing; "Yet what can I give him", when it should be 'Yet what I can, I give him" - a huge difference in meaning, and yes, does take a bit more fitting in to the music, but certainly not impossible!


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Subject: RE: In the Bleak Midwinter
From: Jim McLean
Date: 14 Dec 11 - 05:05 AM

Well folks, I willl concede that Darke's version differs from Holst's but I still say that Darke's version is just that, a variant of Holst's.


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