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Origins: White Coral Bells/White Choral Bells

DigiTrad:
BARGES
CANOE PADDLE
EACH CAMPFIRE LIGHTS ANEW
GIRL SCOUTS TOGETHER
HERE WE ARE
I CAN SAIL
I LOVE THE DAFFODILS
MAKE NEW FRIENDS
OUR CHALET
PEACE I ASK OF THEE OH RIVER
RISE AND SHINE
TALL TIMBERS
WE ARE CALLED THE GIRL SCOUTS
WEAVE
WHEN E'RE YOU MAKE A PROMISE
WHO CAN SAIL


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In Mudcat MIDIs:
White Coral Bells (from the Girl Scouts Sing Together Songbook, 1973)


GUEST,DrWord 03 Aug 01 - 10:17 AM
Ebbie 03 Aug 01 - 12:01 PM
MMario 03 Aug 01 - 12:06 PM
open mike 10 Jun 03 - 12:46 AM
Joe Offer 10 Jun 03 - 01:43 AM
Mark Cohen 10 Jun 03 - 02:08 AM
mg 10 Jun 03 - 02:16 AM
Joe Offer 10 Jun 03 - 02:20 AM
Mark Cohen 10 Jun 03 - 02:24 AM
masato sakurai 10 Jun 03 - 02:46 AM
masato sakurai 10 Jun 03 - 03:19 AM
Joe Offer 10 Jun 03 - 03:32 AM
cetmst 10 Jun 03 - 07:14 AM
masato sakurai 10 Jun 03 - 07:42 AM
GUEST,Joe's sister 14 Aug 03 - 11:23 PM
GUEST,Q 15 Aug 03 - 02:30 PM
GUEST,Allan S. 15 Aug 03 - 07:01 PM
GUEST,vikki@srama.demon.co.uk 05 Oct 03 - 12:01 PM
open mike 05 Oct 03 - 01:23 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 05 Oct 03 - 02:22 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 05 Oct 03 - 02:30 PM
open mike 05 Oct 03 - 03:46 PM
GUEST,steele@dca.net 21 Nov 03 - 07:45 AM
GUEST,mike 25 Jan 05 - 08:02 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 25 Jan 05 - 08:57 PM
GUEST 15 May 06 - 01:53 PM
open mike 15 May 06 - 03:40 PM
Helen 15 May 06 - 05:13 PM
Tannywheeler 16 May 06 - 05:13 PM
Joybell 16 May 06 - 06:40 PM
open mike 17 May 06 - 03:11 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 17 May 06 - 04:53 PM
dulcimer42 17 May 06 - 07:02 PM
Ferrara 18 May 06 - 06:56 AM
Tannywheeler 18 May 06 - 08:28 AM
Tannywheeler 18 May 06 - 08:30 AM
GUEST,Anand 18 May 06 - 08:36 AM
Sue the Borderer 18 May 06 - 11:48 AM
Helen 18 May 06 - 04:41 PM
Ebbie 18 May 06 - 05:33 PM
Bob Bolton 19 May 06 - 06:46 AM
GUEST,Sarah 19 Apr 07 - 03:03 AM
GUEST,Bob Coltman 19 Apr 07 - 12:00 PM
fretless 19 Apr 07 - 01:02 PM
GUEST,LadyRevenge 04 May 07 - 12:17 PM
GUEST,Guest: V. Troyan 10 May 07 - 06:21 PM
katlaughing 10 May 07 - 07:40 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 10 May 07 - 08:53 PM
GUEST,Corinne 29 Jun 07 - 11:25 AM
MMario 29 Jun 07 - 12:28 PM
GUEST,A. Cooper 03 Jul 07 - 11:57 AM
GUEST,August Staas 21 Jul 07 - 11:09 AM
GUEST,Guest 07 Aug 07 - 07:06 PM
GUEST 25 Jan 08 - 06:38 PM
Melissa 25 Jan 08 - 07:09 PM
GUEST,kathryn newman 26 Jan 08 - 07:46 AM
Melissa 26 Jan 08 - 06:42 PM
GUEST,Jeanne 15 Feb 08 - 07:27 PM
GUEST,Rose 05 May 08 - 07:46 AM
GUEST,ex-Guider 28 May 08 - 03:35 PM
GUEST,ex-Guider 28 May 08 - 04:01 PM
GUEST,ex-Guider 28 May 08 - 04:16 PM
GUEST,Virginia 01 Jul 08 - 03:35 PM
GUEST 20 Aug 08 - 11:53 PM
Joe Offer 21 Aug 08 - 02:29 AM
GUEST,Sarah 05 Oct 08 - 02:11 AM
jimslass 05 Oct 08 - 11:47 AM
GUEST,FormerGS 17 Apr 09 - 08:44 PM
GUEST,Jack M. 08 Jul 09 - 09:41 PM
GUEST,mishwam 10 Jul 09 - 06:20 PM
Joe Offer 10 Jul 09 - 07:28 PM
GUEST,Randy 26 Jul 09 - 08:20 PM
Crowhugger 27 Jul 09 - 01:26 AM
GUEST,WyoHarpLady 03 Sep 09 - 10:51 PM
GUEST,Another Girl Scout 21 Nov 09 - 06:57 PM
AllisonA(Animaterra) 22 Nov 09 - 07:20 AM
GUEST,Guest 11 Aug 10 - 08:59 AM
greg stephens 12 Aug 10 - 07:36 AM
GUEST,Alex S 18 Aug 10 - 09:02 AM
GUEST,Bjarne 20 Aug 10 - 02:43 PM
GUEST,Bjarne 20 Aug 10 - 02:54 PM
Joe Offer 20 Aug 10 - 03:48 PM
GUEST,Bjarne 20 Aug 10 - 05:04 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 20 Aug 10 - 07:55 PM
GUEST,Bjarne 21 Aug 10 - 06:17 AM
Q (Frank Staplin) 21 Aug 10 - 02:08 PM
GUEST,Bjarne 22 Aug 10 - 04:57 AM
Ebbie 23 Aug 10 - 02:47 AM
Ebbie 23 Aug 10 - 12:39 PM
GUEST,Ceto 25 Aug 10 - 07:31 AM
GUEST,Grishka 04 Sep 10 - 01:50 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 07 Sep 10 - 04:31 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 08 Sep 10 - 01:13 PM
Joe Offer 08 Sep 10 - 07:26 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 08 Sep 10 - 08:13 PM
GUEST,Grishka 09 Sep 10 - 09:27 AM
Q (Frank Staplin) 09 Sep 10 - 02:23 PM
GUEST,Grishka 09 Sep 10 - 05:26 PM
GUEST,Grishka 15 Oct 10 - 10:06 AM
Joe Offer 15 Oct 10 - 09:31 PM
GUEST,Grishka 16 Oct 10 - 06:11 AM
GUEST,MSL 14 Nov 10 - 05:22 PM
SharonA 10 Jun 11 - 09:58 PM
GUEST 31 Oct 11 - 03:25 PM
GUEST,Girl Scout camp, Minnesota 20 Oct 12 - 03:02 PM
GUEST 21 Oct 12 - 01:46 PM
GUEST,CallieIsSpooky 11 Nov 12 - 10:55 AM
GUEST,Kathleen Moors 11 Sep 13 - 01:59 PM
GUEST,Rahere 11 Sep 13 - 03:29 PM
GUEST,josi 26 Feb 14 - 02:07 PM
GUEST,Guest 12 May 14 - 06:08 PM
GUEST,Stafford M. Hall 23 Apr 16 - 07:24 PM
GUEST,DrWord 23 Apr 16 - 11:07 PM
leeneia 24 Apr 16 - 11:35 PM
GUEST,Grishka 27 Apr 16 - 04:27 AM
GUEST,leeneia 27 Apr 16 - 10:04 AM
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Subject: DTADD: White Coral Bells^^
From: GUEST,DrWord
Date: 03 Aug 01 - 10:17 AM

Any 'catters happen to know whence this "trad & anon" round made its earliest appearances? I've found most of the variant lyrix, but nothing pointing to a country or era. 4 reference, here's the version I learned:
    White coral bells, upon a slender stalk,
    Lilies-of-the-valley deck the garden walk.
    O don't you wish that you could hear them ring?
    That can only happen [or "happen only"] when the fairies sing!^^

Thanks for any help!
dennis


Click to play


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Subject: RE: WhiteCoralBells: date? provenance?
From: Ebbie
Date: 03 Aug 01 - 12:01 PM

I learned it as a round in school in the mid-40s. I remember teaching it to my younger brother as we rode our horses along side by side in our woods. Thanks for the memory!

Ebbie


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Subject: RE: WhiteCoralBells: date? provenance?
From: MMario
Date: 03 Aug 01 - 12:06 PM

trad and anon are the only attributions I find.


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Subject: RE: WhiteCoralBells: date? provenance?
From: open mike
Date: 10 Jun 03 - 12:46 AM

i was just recommending that someone look up White Coral Bells
in the Digi-Trad when lo and behold it is not there! The lyrics
were posted in this thread but the song did not get entered into
the data base.

this page has a midi melody of a prayer written to the same tune.
http://www.users.ms11.net/~gsong/Graces/tune/coralbell.html

another place it is found is here:
found this tab...


7    -7 -6   6
White coral bells


5-5 -6 6 -5    5
upon a slender stalk.


4 5   -4 -5   5 6
Lilies of the Valley


7   8 -8 -7   7
deck my garden walk.


7   -7    -6    6    5
Oh, don't you wish that


-5   -6    6    -5   5
you could hear them ring?


4    5   -4 -5 5 6
That will happen only


7    8 -8 -7    7
when the fairies sing.


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Subject: RE: White Coral Bells: date? provenance?
From: Joe Offer
Date: 10 Jun 03 - 01:43 AM

Boy, there sure isn't much about the song in the Traditional Ballad Index. They found it in the Prairie Home Companion Folk Song Book (Pankake), but not in any of the other sources they have indexed. Seems like very few books spend much time documenting rounds. I think I learned it from my little sister, who learned it in Girl Scouts.
-Joe Offer-

White Coral Bells

DESCRIPTION: "White coral bells upon a slender stalk, Lilies of the valley (line/grace) my garden walk. Oh don't you wish that you could hear them ring? That will only happen when the (angels/fairies) sing."
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1916 (as "May Bells," in the "Fourth Year" volume of the "Hollis Dann Music Course")
KEYWORDS: nonballad
FOUND IN: US
REFERENCES (1 citation):
Pankake-PHCFSB, p. 268, "White Coral Bells" (1 text)
Notes: One of the tiny handful of songs in my mother's singing tradition. Seems to be a genuine folk song, even if no one knows what it's supposed to be about.
Jack Manischewitz, who did the research leading to the 1916 date for the May Bells variant, has found a number of people who also know the song from early life. He notes that the 1916 publication listed no author, although authors were listed for most of the other pieces. This would imply, at minimum, that the copyright had expired by 1916, which would hint at a nineteenth century origin. - RBW
File: PHCFS268

Go to the Ballad Search form
Go to the Ballad Index Instructions
Go to the Bibiography
Go to the Discography

The Ballad Index Copyright 2009 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.


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Subject: RE: White Coral Bells: date? provenance?
From: Mark Cohen
Date: 10 Jun 03 - 02:08 AM

It certainly predates 1972! I learned it around 1960, but I'm sure it's earlier than that. What an interesting question! Where is Bruce O. when we need him? Maybe Masato knows?

Aloha,
Mark


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Subject: RE: White Coral Bells: date? provenance?
From: mg
Date: 10 Jun 03 - 02:16 AM

it was a pretty standard song for girl scouts...I think it goes back at least a ways..turn of the century perhaps?? mg


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Subject: RE: White Coral Bells: date? provenance?
From: Joe Offer
Date: 10 Jun 03 - 02:20 AM

I thought it was a Girl Scout standard from long ago. I have a first edition (1949) of Sing Together from the Girl Scouts, and it doesn't have the song. It does appear in the third edition (1973), which says it's traditional, taken from the 1966 edition of Exploring Music 4 (Holt, Rinehart, Winston). Exploring Music says it's traditional and doesn't give any more information.
So, that takes it back to 1966, the year I graduated from high school. I guess that's ancient history - at least my kids think it is.
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: White Coral Bells: date? provenance?
From: Mark Cohen
Date: 10 Jun 03 - 02:24 AM

Damn, Joe, you ARE old! I graduated in 1970. (Of course, I was only 7.)

Aloha,
Mark


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Subject: RE: White Coral Bells: date? provenance?
From: masato sakurai
Date: 10 Jun 03 - 02:46 AM

This round is in 101 Plus 5 Folk Songs for Camp, edited by Mike Cohen (Oak, 1966, p. 104); and in Songs of Man, edited by Norman Luboff and Win Stracke (Prentice-Hall, 1965, p. 189), which says it is "An American version of a Round which is English in origin."

~Masato


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Subject: RE: White Coral Bells: date? provenance?
From: masato sakurai
Date: 10 Jun 03 - 03:19 AM

According to The Song Index of the Enoch Pratt Free Library (Garland, 1998) and Song Finder (Greenwood, 1995), "White Coral Bells" is also in Janet Tobitt, The Ditty Bag (New York: Janet E. Tobitt, 1946); in Robert E. Nye, Basic Music for Classroom Teachers: An Activities Approach to Music Fundamentals (New York: Prentice-Hall, 1954); in Bjornar Bergethon, Musical Growth in the Elementary School (New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1963); and, as "Klokkene Sma," in Mike Sevig, Mike And Else's Norwegian Songbook (Minneapolis: Skandisk Publications, 1985).


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Subject: RE: White Coral Bells: date? provenance?
From: Joe Offer
Date: 10 Jun 03 - 03:32 AM

Thanks, Masato. Tobitt's 1946 Ditty Bag was the first place I looked, and the song wasn't in the index. Turns out there is a separate index for canons and rounds. Sure enough, there it was.

OK, so now our earliest printed source is 1946, and Ebbie remembers it from the 1940's. Can we do better?

-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: White Coral Bells: date? provenance?
From: cetmst
Date: 10 Jun 03 - 07:14 AM

Tom Glazer's Treasury of Folk Songs for the Family, pub. 1964, notes "This song may have come from Germany or Holland. There is some evidence of this, though not conclusive". Might give a new direction for search.


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Subject: RE: White Coral Bells: date? provenance?
From: masato sakurai
Date: 10 Jun 03 - 07:42 AM

From Folk Music Index:

White Coral Bells

1. Songs for Swinging Housemothers, Fearon, Sof (1963/1961), p118
2. New Song Fest Deluxe, Charles Hansen, Sof (1971/1948), p142
3. Sing for the Fun of It, Florida MYF, sof (195?), p E
4. Ditty Bag, Tobitt, Sof (1946), p 31
5. Woods, Sylvia. Teach Yourself to Play the Folk Harp, Woods Books, sof (1978), p22b

(Sof - Book, Soft Cover)


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Subject: RE: White Coral Bells: date? provenance?
From: GUEST,Joe's sister
Date: 14 Aug 03 - 11:23 PM

I'm sure that we were singing "White Coral Bells" at Girl Scout camp in Wisconsin in 1960, and I know that it seemed like an old song then. We were told that Girl Scouts sang it because Juliet Low, our founder, loved lilies of the valley, and also that they were in her bridal bouquet.

When I taught it to girls, we always sang it as a round or canon. It's a pretty song.


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Subject: RE: White Coral Bells: date? provenance?
From: GUEST,Q
Date: 15 Aug 03 - 02:30 PM

Wery widespread; Birmingham, England Scouts and Guides have it in their songbook, and it appears in English Gardening books (more recent than 1946).
They are also called "Our Lady's Bells."

White coral bells and Lily of the Valley are two entirely diffeent plants, but the flowers are superficially similar.


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Subject: RE: White Coral Bells: date? provenance?
From: GUEST,Allan S.
Date: 15 Aug 03 - 07:01 PM

We sang it in a church youth group in 1943


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Subject: RE: White Coral Bells: date? provenance?
From: GUEST,vikki@srama.demon.co.uk
Date: 05 Oct 03 - 12:01 PM

I was born in '58... learned WCB from my mother, who learned it when *she* was a girl scout (i.e. in the late 30s-early 40s).

Cheers,

Vikki Appleton Fielden


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Subject: RE: White Coral Bells: date? provenance?
From: open mike
Date: 05 Oct 03 - 01:23 PM

I always think fo the chorus of Rosalee
Sorrells' song about Bells of Ireland
when i hear WCB. It goes:

These are the bells of Ireland
That in my garden grow
My great grandmother brought the seeds
From Ireland long ago
Their music it is sweet and sad
Like orphan angels sing
If you listen in your heart you'll
Hear those Bells of Ireland ring.


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Subject: RE: White Coral Bells: date? provenance?
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 05 Oct 03 - 02:22 PM

Bells-of-Ireland usually called Green Shell Flower here (western Canada). Our season is a little short, but this annual will grow here with a little protection.
I guess it got its name from the color, but it is an eastern Mediterranean plant, imported into Ireland (Molucella laevis).


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Subject: RE: White Coral Bells: date? provenance?
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 05 Oct 03 - 02:30 PM

Should have spelled it Moluccella. See picture at: Bells of Ireland


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Subject: RE: White Coral Bells: date? provenance?
From: open mike
Date: 05 Oct 03 - 03:46 PM

Bells of Ireland have a wonderful spicy/peppery fragrance and the seeds like to be frozen to encourage them to sprout..


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Subject: RE: White Coral Bells: date? provenance?
From: GUEST,steele@dca.net
Date: 21 Nov 03 - 07:45 AM

About "White Coral Bells"---I learned it at Camp Fire Girls Camp in Texas in about 1954. Many years later, I was visiting historic Williamsburg and in one of the restored houses, I saw an object made of a curved metal wire with a wooden handle. From the wire were suspended a dozen or so little white beads made of coral, fashioned to look like bell-shaped flowers. It looked just like a lilly-of-the-valley stalk. The label said something like, "Coral Bells: Used in the Colonial Period as a baby's rattle." Suddenly I could hear "White Coral Bells" in my mind, and the words made sense for the first time.

Shirley


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Subject: RE: White Coral Bells: date? provenance?
From: GUEST,mike
Date: 25 Jan 05 - 08:02 PM

I learned it in music class in elementary school in northern Minnesota in the late 50s.


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Subject: RE: White Coral Bells: date? provenance?
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 25 Jan 05 - 08:57 PM

"The Ditty Bag," 1946, is still the earliest printed reference found so far.
It seems to have appeared in both the Burdett and Follett series of school song books in the mid 50s.
In the Follett series "Together We Sing," it is in the 1956 edition, but not in my 1952 edition.


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Subject: RE: Origins: White Coral Bells
From: GUEST
Date: 15 May 06 - 01:53 PM

Hi...we sang it a Huntington Camp in Traverse City , Michigan in the late 40's early 50's as a 3 way round...LOVED IT!! and have a huge plot of lily of the valley still today. Barbara


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Subject: RE: Origins: White Coral Bells
From: open mike
Date: 15 May 06 - 03:40 PM

I once sang it at a folk estival
and was happily surprised when
a few in the audience struck up
with the round.

Girls Scouts, no doubt!

What a great contribution
scouting has made to the
body of music that exists
in many of our minds!~!

makes me want to revive the
camp songs music thread...
or at least visit the
mudcat campfire thread..

rise up oh, flame......


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Subject: RE: Origins: White Coral Bells
From: Helen
Date: 15 May 06 - 05:13 PM

In Oz I had never heard it. The only way I knew about it was in the mid-80's when I bought the Sylvia Woods Teach Yourself to Play the Folk Harp book and video.

It may have migrated out here, maybe even with Scouts & Guides, but I have never heard it sung or heard of it here.

I'd be interested to know if any other Oz 'Catters have heard it sung in Oz.

Helen


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Subject: RE: Origins: White Coral Bells
From: Tannywheeler
Date: 16 May 06 - 05:13 PM

I can't remember NOT knowing this round, and I was born in 1943. I would have learned it through my mother or her friends, all active in folk music in the 1930s-40s-50s, and later. I seem to remember it being seminal in my "aha" moment of the basic nature of a "round". I don't remember ever seeing it in a book.      Tw


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Subject: RE: Origins: White Coral Bells
From: Joybell
Date: 16 May 06 - 06:40 PM

I've asked around in Victoria, Helen. Nobody seems to have learned it here. True-love's sister taught it to him in the Midwest in America when they were children. Cheers, Joy


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Subject: RE: Origins: White Coral Bells
From: open mike
Date: 17 May 06 - 03:11 PM

i had not made the connection that White Coral Bells WERE
lily of the valley.

beware, they are poisonous.

here is some info--the the starts you get are called "pips"

http://www.wiseacre-gardens.com/plants/perennial/lilyvalley.html
http://library.thinkquest.org/C007974/1_1lil.htm
http://www.aspca.org/toxicplants/M01894.htm

i used them in a science fair project once--
and i put them in colored ink and food coloring
to show their circulation systems....the veins
in the petals showed the color


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Subject: RE: Origins: White Coral Bells
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 17 May 06 - 04:53 PM

White coral bells are not lily of the valley, but Heuchera micrantha. Several varieties in plant lists. Heuchera sanguinea is the more common coral-red species.

Lily of the Valley is Convallaria. C. majalis. is the commoner white species, C. rosea is pink.

I would not doubt that non-gardeners mentally confuse the two unrelated plants, both in cultivation since the 17th c.


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Subject: RE: Origins: White Coral Bells
From: dulcimer42
Date: 17 May 06 - 07:02 PM

I sang it in elementary school in Flint, Michigan. That would have been in the early 50's. Also sang in in Girl Scout. I can thank Girl Scouting for teaching me so many songs, which I now would call Folk Songs. Back then, I just thought they were "Girl Scout Songs." I love getting out my old girl scout song books and singing those songs. Isn't it wonderful how our brains store music. Hear a song from over 50 years ago, and still be able to sing the words. Might not recall lots of other things, but music... it stays there.


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Subject: RE: Origins: White Coral Bells
From: Ferrara
Date: 18 May 06 - 06:56 AM

Q, you're right, heuchera is what gardeners now call White Coral Bells. But the song specifically says it is referring to Lilies of the Valley.

I learned it in 2nd or 3rd grade (1947 or 1948). We used to have music assemblies where they taught us what I guess I would call "heritage" songs. Some were folk, some were "old favorites." I'm grateful for those assemblies, they are a happy memory and I still remember some of the songs.

Here are the words I remember (amazing that the folk process can affect even a 4 line round....)

"White coral bells, upon a slender stalk,
Lilies of the valley deck my garden walk.
Oh, how I wish that I could hear them ring --
That will happen only when the fairies sing."

Later, I think I decided that if the flowers were "decking" the walk, you wouldn't be able to walk there, so I started singing it,

"Lilies of the valley line my garden walk."

Somehow I'm glad to know it's supposed to be "deck," just because that is how I learned it first. Silly huh?


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Subject: RE: Origins: White Coral Bells
From: Tannywheeler
Date: 18 May 06 - 08:28 AM

Deck, as in "Deck the halls..." maybe? Decorate? We always sang it
"...Oh, don't you wish that you could hear them ring..."


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Subject: RE: Origins: White Coral Bells
From: Tannywheeler
Date: 18 May 06 - 08:30 AM

Oops.   "Tw"          Tw


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Subject: RE: Origins: White Coral Bells
From: GUEST,Anand
Date: 18 May 06 - 08:36 AM

Hi,

Nice. Thanks for your memory info. It remembers my school days.

Anand
www.weanakar.com


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Subject: RE: Origins: White Coral Bells
From: Sue the Borderer
Date: 18 May 06 - 11:48 AM

Just been and found my old Girl Guide song book. Although all the songs in it were written up later, I probably first sang it when I was a Brownie, in England, in about 1957.

In my handwritten song book I've got 'Doth', crossed out, replaced by 'Down' but I like 'Deck' much better! Otherwise the same words as Ferrara, 3 or 4 posts ago except that I have 'only happen' not 'happen only'. (I notice the first posting to the thread gives both)

Evokes lots of memories for me too.
Sue


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Subject: RE: Origins: White Coral Bells
From: Helen
Date: 18 May 06 - 04:41 PM

When I read the lyrics in this thread I thought it was saying white coral bells AND lilies of the valley by using the comma. Like a list, but with only two items in the list. "white coral bells, lilies of the valley"

White coral bells, upon a slender stalk,
Lilies-of-the-valley deck the garden walk.

So there is a flower, then a description, then another flower and another description.

Just me maybe, but looking at it for the first time without a tradition of having heard it sung before or having seen the words. The words aren't in the Sylvia Woods book, I don't think (from memory) because seeing them here was a surprise to me.

Joybell, thanks for asking around in Vic.

I'm interested in the folk process for this song, because rounds like this tend to travel fairly well, especially through the Brownies/Guides/Scouts network but also generally, and through school music, etc. It intrigues me that this one may have escaped the notice of Oz music people.

At the moment, though, I'm only going by my own epxerience and Joybell's info gathering. I'd still be interested to know if other Oz 'Catters have sung this tune at school, or in other contexts.

Intriguing!

Helen


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Subject: RE: Origins: White Coral Bells
From: Ebbie
Date: 18 May 06 - 05:33 PM

I frequently sketch memories of old events- coming across an old sketch is as good as - or better - than a photo of the same thing. And sure enough, I have a sketch of me and my brother riding horses side by side...The words above our heads are: White coral bells... Upon a slender stalk...

My father was a horse trainer, so many of my oldest memories involve horses.


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Subject: RE: Origins: White Coral Bells
From: Bob Bolton
Date: 19 May 06 - 06:46 AM

G'day Helen,

(Thanks for the PM ... I hadn't opened this thread.)

I can't recall any appearance of ths song in Australian Scouting circles ... and, comimg from a family of four boys (spread over 16 years!) and no sisters ... and with both parents involved in the Scouting side (Mum was Akela of 1st Bankstown Cubs ... and Dad was Distict Scoutmaster of Lakemba) ... I had no exposure to the Guiding side.

Dad helped put together the first Australian Boy Scout Song Book ... but this song/round would not have been there.

Regards,

Bob


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Subject: RE: Origins: White Coral Bells
From: GUEST,Sarah
Date: 19 Apr 07 - 03:03 AM

I learned this originally from a coloring book, of all places! I think it was a Chipmunks book, and depicted the Chipettes working in a garden; this would have been sometime in the mid 80s. My mother saw the book and remembered the melody from when she was a girl and taught it to my sister and me. Nice to have this thread to show me how long the song has been around!


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Subject: RE: Origins: White Coral Bells
From: GUEST,Bob Coltman
Date: 19 Apr 07 - 12:00 PM

My cousin Nicki would, I'm sure, be very surprised to know she was among the song's earliest singers (at least as so far noted here). I heard her sing it in the mid to late 1940s. Not sure of her source, likely either school or camp. She didn't sing it as a round, but as a solo.

I always assumed it was a commercially produced song, from the sound of it. Bob


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Subject: RE: Origins: White Coral Bells
From: fretless
Date: 19 Apr 07 - 01:02 PM

My wife remembers learning it as a round in the early 50s at Camp Artaban on Gambier Island in Howe Sound, just northwest of Vancouver, B.C.


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Subject: RE: Origins: White Coral Bells
From: GUEST,LadyRevenge
Date: 04 May 07 - 12:17 PM

My mother taught this song to me when I was a little girl in the 80's. I'm 31 now and we still get silly and sing it together as a round every now and then. My mother was born in 1939 and she remembers learning it as a little girl herself, so the earlier post about being dated back to the 40's seems right to me. The lyrics my mother taught me are as follows:

White coral bells upon a slender stalk
Lily-of-the-Valley deck my garden walk
Oh how I wish that you could hear them ring
That will happen only when the fairies sing

I believe this is different than any other lyrics posted in this thread because of the "that you could hear" instead of "that I could hear" but all in all it's the same song and a very lovely one at that. I will forever treasure this song and will pass it on to my children if I have any in the future. It will always remind me of my mother and will keep her close to my heart forever.


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Subject: RE: Origins: White Coral Bells
From: GUEST,Guest: V. Troyan
Date: 10 May 07 - 06:21 PM

I stumbled into this group when trying to research some songs appropriate for Renaissance Faires (for English and Gaelic characters). A perfomer of children's songs told me this would be appropriate for the Renaissance Faires without any historical documentation. I'm very glad to see your group sites sources as much as you can.
I have two cents to add after reading the discussion. I believe that Heuchera are California natives (at least I remember reading of one in a book on California natives written by an author from UC Berkeley). According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, Convallaria majalis (lily of the valley) are natives of the North Americas (Eastern) and Eurasia.
So I'm going to make a dangerous assumption-leap that the song possibly stems from the North America's then (maybe??)? Or other places of colder weather (the huechera varieties I've seen in California wilt in the heat (triple digits) w/out a lot of water and shade and lily of the valley shrivel and will not bloom above temps in the 65 degrees farenheit range and hotter). I read someone's post about both being popular flowers since the 1700's though. I guess we really have to get a better date on the song to narrow down the location.
The other thing we have to take into account is that I'm sure there are other flowers known as "coral bells" or confused with coral bells. And I acknowledge that my assumption could be totally wrong since people may just plant them as annuals in certain places and replace them every year in the fall or winter.
Melodically/musically do we have a historical "trace" on the rhythm, pattern of the lines and/or tune? I'm not musically adept, other than I like to sing, so that type research is a bit beyond me.
Keep singing!


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Subject: RE: Origins: White Coral Bells
From: katlaughing
Date: 10 May 07 - 07:40 PM

Odd that I have never heard this song and all three of my sisters and I were in Girl Scouts. I'll have to ask them about it.

When I was growing up, we had coral bells here in Western Colorado; not white, but I always thought they were named that for their coral colour. Then, in a very carefully planned rock garden, my brother also had Lily of the Valley which survived triple digit hot summers. They seem to have even hardier varieties these days.


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Subject: RE: Origins: White Coral Bells
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 10 May 07 - 08:53 PM

Kat, the coral to red coral bells are the Heuchera that V. Troyan is talking about. They belong to the Saxifrage Family.
Heuchera is North American. The species first called coral bells, H. sanguinea, was first found in Mexico, but it is a hardy perennial and may be grown fairly far north. It was introduced to Europe in the 17th c. It has been hybridized with other species, and is found in gardens in southern Alberta, perennial in sheltered spots.
A natural hybrid, Heucherella tierelloides, resembles sanguinea and also is called 'coral bells.'
White coral bells belong to the species H. pubescens or one of the hybrids.

Lily of the Valley is a quite different plant, also a hardy perennial. Convallaria majalis as noted above, is white and belongs to the Liliaceae Family. It was introduced to America from Europe. It tends to 'travel,' and often pops up where it is not wanted, squeezing out more desirable plants (My wife loves it, I hate it). Another species, also from Europe, C. rosea, is pink.

The tune is one of those simple things that are almost impossible to trace back; it is so similar to the melodies of other simple songs. The lyrics, of course, are modern.


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Subject: Perhaps it was "choral" not "coral"
From: GUEST,Corinne
Date: 29 Jun 07 - 11:25 AM

I learned this round at girl scout camp 1936-37 in the Adirondack Mts. of NY. However, I never saw a written version, we learned by singing it. I always imagined the word as "choral". We sang:

White choral bells, upon a slender stalk
lillies-of-the-valley, deck my garden walk.
Oh, don't you wish, that you might hear them ring,
that will happen only when the fairies sing.

Meaning: You will hear them ring, but only if you believe in   
          fairies !


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Subject: RE: Origins: White Coral Bells
From: MMario
Date: 29 Jun 07 - 12:28 PM

I think the comment from Shirley back in Nov of '03 is significant:

object made of a curved metal wire with a wooden handle. From the wire were suspended a dozen or so little white beads made of coral, fashioned to look like bell-shaped flowers. It looked just like a lilly-of-the-valley stalk. The label said something like, "Coral Bells: Used in the Colonial Period as a baby's rattle

so the lines

White coral bells, upon a slender stalk,
Lilies-of-the-valley deck the garden walk

rather then describing the colour of the plant 'coral Bells' are comparing the flowers of the lily of the vally to bells made of white coral.

The other item is that 'Coral bells' has traditionally been used more as a foliage plant then a flowering plant AND the pink and red flowering varieties were favored where they were used as flowers.

Then add in that the common name for the plant until recently was "alum root" and I think that evidence that the lines are referring to a single type of plant start to add up.

The age of the lines, however are still unclear. But I doubt if older then late 1700's


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Subject: RE: Origins: White Coral Bells
From: GUEST,A. Cooper
Date: 03 Jul 07 - 11:57 AM

I very much enjoyed reading about this old folk song that I remember learning as a Brownie in California in the 1950's. I think it was one of the first rounds I learned (along with "Make New Friends"). I found two written sources for the words and they both agreed.

White coral bells upon a slender stalk,
Lilies of the valley deck my garden walk.
Oh, don't you wish that you could hear them ring?
That will happen only when the fairies sing.

One source is a third edition "Sing Together" from 1973 (first edition 1949) that I bought a few years ago. The other source is a very old Camp Manzanita songbook from the late 1950's or early 1960's. This was the Girl Scout camp I attended and was a counselor at in Summer of 1964.

Now, a question - some of you seem to be acquainted with Girl Guides and I'm trying to remember/comfirm the words to a GG marching song I learned about 1963 from a Canadian counselor.

Who are these, swinging along the road
With a pack on their back, a song in their heart to ease the load
It's been 40(?)years or more since they crowded through the door,
But they're coming along as gay and as strong as ever they came before
They are guides all guides and in unexpected places
You'll meet their friendly faces and a willing hand besides,
There's not much danger in finding you're a stranger
For commissioner or ranger they are guides, all guides.

Who are these, living beneath the sky
While the shimmering sun, the pattering rain and the clouds roll by
They will dine beneath the boughs and their leader always vows that they're never afraid of wasps and hardly ever afraid of cows!
They are Guides all guides...etc.

Those are the verses in my head, but how close are these words, does anyone know? Is this a real official Girl guide song? I couldn't find it online.

Thanks, nice to find others who have these songs running through their heads too!

Old camp song leader, Ann Cooper


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Subject: RE: Origins: White Coral Bells
From: GUEST,August Staas
Date: 21 Jul 07 - 11:09 AM

I learned this from my older sisters more than forty years ago. We would sing it as a round during long car trips. They said they learned it at Camp Fire Girls in the 50s. We sang it along with "Make new friends but keep the old, one is silver and the other gold." I just taught it to my wife and she wanted to know where it came from.


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Subject: RE: Origins: White Coral Bells
From: GUEST,Guest
Date: 07 Aug 07 - 07:06 PM

As a former Girl Scout, Girl Scout leader and Campfire leader I was thrilled to see this discussion of a favorite song. I worked at Camp El Deseo in Cuba, New Mexico in the 60's and we sang it there substituting "White yucca bells" for coral bells and "lilies of the desert" for lilies of the valley.


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Subject: RE: Origins: White Coral Bells
From: GUEST
Date: 25 Jan 08 - 06:38 PM

My mother, born in 1921, taught me this song from her childhood, so that puts it in the late '20s, early '30s at least. She probably won't remember now--she has dementia--but I know she was in an organization called Girl Reserves. (What relation, if any, this group had to Girl Scouts I do not know.)

The other song I associate with my mother's youth goes like this: "Like snow-white sailing boats/ On a blue sea' High in the heavens are/ Clouds floating free./ If I could fly to one [them?],/ If I could ride on one [them?],/ Sailing and sailing what/ Pleasure 'twould be."

Any help on that one?


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Subject: RE: Origins: White Coral Bells
From: Melissa
Date: 25 Jan 08 - 07:09 PM

Girl Reserves seems to have been a YWCA program which started in the 1920s. I had never heard of it--thanks Guest!

http://www.ywca.pdx.edu/camping/GirlReserves.htm


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Subject: RE: Origins: White Coral Bells
From: GUEST,kathryn newman
Date: 26 Jan 08 - 07:46 AM

I sang this song in a Michigan public elementary school in the late 50's, early 60's. My mom remembered it, as well. It seems to me that any music that she knew from early elementary school came from ancient piano method books, and personal favorites of the only teacher in a rustic upper-peninsula one room school. This school teacher was also the only piano teacher for miles, and happened to live with my mother's family all through the depression.

The John Thompson books that I learned to play from contained many sailing and sea songs..."Drifting" (Light is thy bark, brother, rest(or bend) on your oars, fair are the winds and the tide..." Perhaps other earlier lesson texts give origins of those two songs.

Which leads me to ask: My sister and I have sung this duet for our whole lives...Does anyone know this song?
we think that it's called "On the Deep"-

On the deep around us,
towering billows rise-
In its fury bounding
to the dark'ning skies.
Leagues of angry ocean
lash to raging foam.
Wildly roar between us
and the light of home.


It would be nice to know anything about its history.
Thank you

Kathryn


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Subject: RE: Origins: White Coral Bells
From: Melissa
Date: 26 Jan 08 - 06:42 PM

Kathryn and Other Guest..you'll probably have better luck getting info on your songs if you start a new thread.
I hope you do that--they look like neat songs!

Also, CORRECTION: I misread the Girl Reserves thingy. It apparently started in 1918 and began to flourish in the 20s.


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Subject: RE: Origins: White Coral Bells
From: GUEST,Jeanne
Date: 15 Feb 08 - 07:27 PM

I first learned this song in grade school in the mid 60s. I came across this thread today as I was trying to find additional words. We had not sung it as a round and I was sure there must be more words I just wasn't remembering. It's nice to know I had the whole thing. I have already taught it to my four year old daughter. It's one of her favorites.

Jeanne


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Subject: RE: Origins: White Coral Bells
From: GUEST,Rose
Date: 05 May 08 - 07:46 AM

Reply to "guest' (25th Jan 08) (sorry, I do not know much about these 'threads' but I do have the words of "Cloud Ships"

CLOUD SHIPS

Like snow white sailing boats on a blue sea
High in the heavens are clouds floating free.
If I could fly to one, If I might ride to one
Sailing and sailing what pleasure t'would be.

We should look down from our ship in the sky
On cities, forests and lakes passing by
We should sail faraway and at the close of day
Anchor our cloud to a mountain top high.

Rose


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Subject: RE: Origins: White Coral Bells
From: GUEST,ex-Guider
Date: 28 May 08 - 03:35 PM

I think it's probably White Choral Bells


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Subject: Info: The Girl Guide Marching Song
From: GUEST,ex-Guider
Date: 28 May 08 - 04:01 PM

(1) White Choral Bells (regardless of how it may appear in print elsewhere) because "don't you wish that you could hear them ring"--they make music--and besides, white and coral are 2 different colours.
(2) Thanks to Cooper for a 2nd verse to the Girl Guide marching song (in fact, I think it's called "The Girl Guide Marching Song", but I might be wrong about that). It is in my opinion the best Guide song, cheerful, friendly, welcoming, and full of esprit de corps, pride in Guide history, good for hiking to, and not invoking anyone's religion or any tired old army lyrics. The words for the 1st verse, as I remember having sung them (and my memory might be faulty) are only slightly different from those posted by Cooper:
    Who are we, marching along the road,
    with a pack on our back, a song in our hearts to ease the load?
    It's been 40 years or more [today Guides must surely sing "100 years or more", instead!]
    since we crowded through the door [refers to Guides crowding into a room where Boy Scouts were first organizing, to demand that they be included in the movement--a feminist action!]
    And we're coming along as gay and strong
    As ever we came before:
    We are Guides, all Guides,
    and in unexpected places
    You'll meet our friendly faces
    And a ready hand, besides--
    And there's not much danger
    Of finding you're a stranger,
    For, Commissioner or Ranger,
    we are Guides--all Guides!

I don't know for certain, but I think there no longer is the rank of Commissioner, in Guides. That was a high-ranking district leader.


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Subject: RE: Girl Guide Marching Song
From: GUEST,ex-Guider
Date: 28 May 08 - 04:16 PM

oops--lyrics I posted for the Guide marching song should have said, "song in our heart"--singular, not plural, of 'heart'.

I learned White Choral Bells (a poetic description of lily of the valley), and Make New Friends, and the Guide marching song--all songs mentioned in previous posts by others here--as a Brownie and then a Girl Guide, as far back as 1954-5--and they were already old, then. Also of course Land of the Silver Birch, which I believe is a Canadian song ("home of the beaver"!--and of course we're lush with silver birch and still the mighty moose wanders at will). My mother knew White Choral Bells--I think also from when she was a Guide--and she was English (then). The marching song is most likely English in origin. Girls were still singing these songs in the 60s, when I was a leader. My daughter and granddaughters are still singing them, today(with other Guides).


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Subject: RE: Origins: White Coral Bells
From: GUEST,Virginia
Date: 01 Jul 08 - 03:35 PM

It's amazing how many people here learned the song at different ages. It just shows you how timeless it really is. I too learned it as a Girl Scout, but in the early 90s. I was just walking around singing it to myself and wondering where it came from and I stumbled upon this site.


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Subject: RE: Origins: White Coral Bells
From: GUEST
Date: 20 Aug 08 - 11:53 PM

I remember this one from elementary-school music class, about 1981 or so. It was specifically taught as a round, to show what rounds were. The word was written as "choral," not "coral," and it was explained to be in reference to bell-like flowers, and to thoughts of how they would sound if they were real bells. Music all but disappeared from the curriculum shortly afterward, here in CA. Such a shame.


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Subject: RE: Origins: White Coral Bells
From: Joe Offer
Date: 21 Aug 08 - 02:29 AM

I found the song in several Girl Scout songbooks and in several school songbooks - always spelled "White Coral Bells."

Google shows 280 results for "White Choral Bells," admittedly a respectable number - but 8,330 results for "White Coral Bells."

-Joe said, pedantically....-


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Subject: RE: Origins: White Coral Bells
From: GUEST,Sarah
Date: 05 Oct 08 - 02:11 AM

Wow- This thread has been going for 7 years. That's impressive. I was born in 86 (yes, i'm a youngin) and my mother used to sing it to me as a luluby. I forgot about it for a realy long time. Then a few months ago it kind of drifted into my head as I was falling asleep, but I couldnt remember it in the morning. not at all. I drove myself nuts trying to remember how it went. I remembered it today at work while doing dishes. It just snaped back into my head and stayed there all day. I came home, looked it up, and found this thread. I had no idea it went back this far. It must go back even further than any of the writen documents, judging by the way everyone seems to remember it from their mothers and sisters. I'm going to teach it to my children one day. Thank you so much. This made my day.


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Subject: RE: Origins: White Coral Bells
From: jimslass
Date: 05 Oct 08 - 11:47 AM

yep, sang this as a Girl Guide in Liverpool in the '60's - we sang it as a round. When I became a Guider my Company (or Unit as we had to call them) was a 'singing' unit - it amazed me when visiting others where there was little or no singing.


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Subject: RE: Origins: White Coral Bells
From: GUEST,FormerGS
Date: 17 Apr 09 - 08:44 PM

I learned it in GS when I was little; I was born in 1986. Deployed to Iraq right now. I started humming this song and didn't know why, just a great childhood song. Maybe in a year or so another kid will remember it and find this post :)


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Subject: RE: Origins: White Coral Bells
From: GUEST,Jack M.
Date: 08 Jul 09 - 09:41 PM

I have found White Coral Bells, under the title of May Bells, in "Fourth Year Music," edited by Hollis Dann, published by the American Book Company, of New York, Cincinnati and Chicago, copyright 1916. As presented in this collection, White Coral Bells is exactly the same as I heard it in the 50's, both words and tune, except for the title. Since no composer credits are given, although they are provided for the majority of songs in the book, the song might easily be much older than 1916.

If the flower "white coral bells" is different from "lilies of the valley," as described above by "Q" on 5/10/07, then it's easy to see why the title of "May Bells" would have been more appropriate than "White Coral Bells;" the latter would only relate to half (1) of the flowers mentioned in the song. On the other hand, the explanations presented above, that "white coral bells" were part of a device made from white coral in colonial times, also seems plausible.


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Subject: RE: Origins: White Coral Bells
From: GUEST,mishwam
Date: 10 Jul 09 - 06:20 PM

Perhaps it is meant to be spelled... White Choral bells! They are supposed to mean lilly of the valley, not a coral colored flower. I learned it as line my garden walk.


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Subject: RE: Origins: White Coral Bells
From: Joe Offer
Date: 10 Jul 09 - 07:28 PM

Hmmm. How about "White Choral Belles" - Women's Christian Temperance Choir, or something like that.

But hey, coral is white when it's dead. When I was a kid in Wisconsin, old people used to bring us back dead coral from their Florida snowbird trips. I suppose it's illegal to transport dead coral nowadays.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Origins: White Coral Bells
From: GUEST,Randy
Date: 26 Jul 09 - 08:20 PM

"Coral Bells" is the type of flower (Heuchera). They come in several colors, including white.
Lily of the valley is a different flower, but shares the bell-like shape. Isn't it clear that the exuberance of the melody and lyrics points to the excitement of seeing TWO kinds of bell-flowers, noticing their delicate little bell-shapes, and thinking of them as part of the fairy-world? (Lots of fairy drawings show them drinking from lilies of the valley, using them as bonnets, as bells, as bowls, etc. Their tiny delicacy makes them seem like a big white flower bell that was miniaturized.)


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Subject: RE: Origins: White Coral Bells
From: Crowhugger
Date: 27 Jul 09 - 01:26 AM

It seems dry/dead coral colour varies: At least 1 kind of coral becomes black. I got some once brought from Barbados.

I also learned WCB from my mother who learned it from her mother who was b. 1905.

~CH~


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Subject: RE: Origins: White Coral Bells
From: GUEST,WyoHarpLady
Date: 03 Sep 09 - 10:51 PM

I learned this song from my mother when I was a little girl in the 50s. I'm sure she learned it in Girl Scouts (she was a camper and then a counselor) in the 30s.


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Subject: RE: Origins: White Coral Bells
From: GUEST,Another Girl Scout
Date: 21 Nov 09 - 06:57 PM

I learned "White Coral Bells" as a Brownie in Day Camp,Hills and Dales Park,Dayton,Ohio,1952. For the rest of my scouting days (to 1961)it was a standard campfire song.
Also, on the subject of the Guide's song,there's a third verse I learned in Girl Scout Camp (Camp Whip-Poor-Will Hills,Morrow,Ohio)in 1953.

"Who are these,a-singing around the fire?
They'll be happy to have your company,
If that is your desire.
Fun is on the way
At the sunset hour of day,
With a song to sing,a tale to tell,and many a tune to play.
They are Guides,all Guides,
And in unexpected places,
You'll see their friendly faces,
And a ready hand besides.
There's not much danger,
Of finding you're a stranger,
For Commissioner or Ranger they are Guides (double clap here),
All Guides."

Thank you for this wonder thread on these old Scouting songs. I adored being a Scout and my memories of the singing in camp and meetings are such happy ones. I,too,went to Camp Manzanita in the Angeles Crest Forest outside LA (1959)and still have the small paperback song book you could buy in the store there.

-Elsa-


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Subject: RE: Origins: White Coral Bells
From: AllisonA(Animaterra)
Date: 22 Nov 09 - 07:20 AM

I learned "White Coral Bells" in Girl Scouts in the late 1960's. We also learned a wonderful parody:

Three shiny leaves upon a slender stalk,
Lovely poison ivy decks my garden walk!
Oh, don't you wish that you could stop and touch-
But you know you mustn't 'cause you'll itch too much!

Allison


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Subject: RE: Origins: White Coral Bells
From: GUEST,Guest
Date: 11 Aug 10 - 08:59 AM

I learned it in the mid-1950's at Catholic school, but my parents seemed to already know it from their childhoods in the 20's and 30's. Mom was English and she knew the song.


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Subject: RE: Origins: White Coral Bells
From: greg stephens
Date: 12 Aug 10 - 07:36 AM

Do we have a tune for this?


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Subject: RE: Origins: White Coral Bells
From: GUEST,Alex S
Date: 18 Aug 10 - 09:02 AM

A MIDI of the first half is given right at the top of this thread. The complete tune as sheet music I found here. I tried it out with my software SonneLematine, of course transposed down to suit my bass-baritone, and found it a challenge. Girl Scouting seems to have the miraculous effect that even contraltos can reach a" - what do we need fairies for, then? Resp. would Girl Scouts actually hear the flowers ring? Or is that a hallucination due to exhausted breath? Keep singing till the lungs burst!
Alex


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Subject: RE: Origins: White Coral Bells
From: GUEST,Bjarne
Date: 20 Aug 10 - 02:43 PM

So I guess we have England about 1920, that would fit both the tune and the text. Holland and Germany seem to be unsupported, or does anyone know about that evidence "cetmst" wrote about above, back in '03?

The Bells in the title must be flowers; if they were anything more rigid, you wouldn't need fairies to sound them. Actually the tune is not the best round ever written, simplistic in style and wasteful in ambitus, as Alex S rightly points out. It is the text that makes the song attractive: neo-romantic lyrics without any intellectual ambitions, as if made for a Girl Scout's friendship book. So I guess the melody was composed after the text, which is another argument contra a non-English provenance.

Who knows a printed source from earlier than 1930?

Bjarne


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Subject: RE: Origins: White Coral Bells
From: GUEST,Bjarne
Date: 20 Aug 10 - 02:54 PM

PS: I must add that of course there are many Girl Scouts with intellectual ambitions, even successful ones, but it is in the best traditions of Scouting not to display them unnecessarily in order not to shame one's companions.


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Subject: RE: Origins: White Coral Bells
From: Joe Offer
Date: 20 Aug 10 - 03:48 PM

Anybody have Fourth Year Music by Hollis Dann so we can verify that 1916 date and check for origins?
I have grades 2, 3, and 5 - but not 4.
I've checked, and the earliest reference I can find is the 1939 Cokesbury Game Book. I'm not doubting the source above that cites the 1916 Hollis Dann book, but I'd like to see if we can glean for more details.
-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Origins: White Coral Bells
From: GUEST,Bjarne
Date: 20 Aug 10 - 05:04 PM

Indeed, Joe, I had overlooked Jack M.'s contribution above who seems to testify as an eye-witness. He writes he saw the same lyrics and melody, just the title being added. This puts us back to America and 1916, and we should search for an origin earlier than that.


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Subject: RE: Origins: White Coral Bells
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 20 Aug 10 - 07:55 PM

A number of sites say "traditional English," but nothing more definite. In King's Singers and other songbooks.


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Subject: RE: Origins: White Coral Bells
From: GUEST,Bjarne
Date: 21 Aug 10 - 06:17 AM

Another important set of questions to all of you:

"open mike" gives a version for mouth organ that has the melody repeated. This makes it effectively a two-part round with two stanzas, each having exactly the melody given by the MIDI.

In other sources I know, including "Alex S"'s sheet, the lines 3 and 4 have their own melody, making a full four-voiced round. Which version is found in the old sources? And which one did you learn and sing?

My guess is that the extra melody has been added later to fill the four-part harmony at the expense of melodic consistency and general singability.

Bjarne


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Subject: RE: Origins: White Coral Bells
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 21 Aug 10 - 02:08 PM

In about a week I should have a copy of the 1916 school song book that purports to have "White Coral Bells." Found one cheap.

There should be an old English song book with the song, if claims that it is English are correct.


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Subject: RE: Origins: White Coral Bells
From: GUEST,Bjarne
Date: 22 Aug 10 - 04:57 AM

Thanks to all. Unfortunately I have to leave right now (on a jet plane ...) and I won't be able to access mudcat for a couple of months. Therefore I must thank "Q" and any future contributors in advance. My friends here, who are as interested as I am, will continue to watch this thread and inform me about any progress. Have a goot time!

Bjarne


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Subject: RE: Origins: White Coral Bells
From: Ebbie
Date: 23 Aug 10 - 02:47 AM

I'm going to suggest an heretical thought. Is it possible that the original theme was 'choral' bells?

As in
White choral bells upon a slender stalk
Lilies of the Valley deck the garden walk
etc, etc

I say that because, as noted above, coral bells and lily of the valley bear only a superficial similarity. But lily of the valley does have the bells.

White Choral Bells?


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Subject: RE: Origins: White Coral Bells/White Choral Bells
From: Ebbie
Date: 23 Aug 10 - 12:39 PM

sheesh I completely missed the repeated mention of 'choral' in the earlier posts. I thought I was being original. ;~\


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Subject: RE: Origins: White Coral Bells/White Choral Bells
From: GUEST,Ceto
Date: 25 Aug 10 - 07:31 AM

The books I own and many internet sources give exactly the melody of the MIDI file posted here. Many others don't give any melody, but assert that it's a two part round. Therefore I think that this has always been the standard version.

The version in four parts linked above I found in one other place only, in C major. In my opinion, it's clearly apocryphal. Since the four lines of the text form a tight unit, the desire for such an extention is quite understandable. So it may not be too much of a sacrilege that I propose one of my own making, much easier to sing and sounding better, I hope:

X: 3
T: White Coral Bells 3.0
C: trad.-to-be, Ceto
M: C
L: 1/4
K: C
c2  B A | G3    E | F A G F | E4     |
C E D F | E G c e | d2  B2  | c4     |
G3    z | c B A G | z F2  D | G A G2 |
E z G z | C D E G | A c d G | c4     |


(For the closing fermata, add a C4 ad lib.)

Would the first group of Girl Scouts to try this out at the campfire please post their opinion here ;-).

Ceto


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Subject: RE: Origins: White Coral Bells/White Choral Bells
From: GUEST,Grishka
Date: 04 Sep 10 - 01:50 PM

I just found another source with four parts: The book "Earth and Nature Songs" by Jerry Silverman. The melody is almost the same as given by Alex, but rises even a full tone higher (up to transposition)! That book is well known in Europe, so the melody given there can't be considered totally spurious.


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Subject: Lyr. Add: May Bells (Round)
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 07 Sep 10 - 04:31 PM

MAY BELLS
4/4 Round

1
White coral bells upon a slender stalk-
Lilies of the valley deck our garden walk.
2
Oh, don't you wish that you could hear them ring?
That could happen only when fairies sing.

With score. Also score for Two-Part Study. No author or provenance.

Hollis Dann, 1916, Fourth year Music, p. 115; American Book Company, New York.

There should be earlier printings of this round.

Click to play (1916 tune)


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Subject: RE: Origins: White Coral Bells/White Choral Bells
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 08 Sep 10 - 01:13 PM

refresh


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Subject: RE: Origins: White Coral Bells/White Choral Bells
From: Joe Offer
Date: 08 Sep 10 - 07:26 PM

Q sent me a scan from the Hollis Dann Music Series, Fourth Grade Music book (1916). It's more-or-less the same tune as I posted before from the 1973 Girl Scouts Singing Together songbook, mostly a difference in enharmonic spelling. But since the 1916 version is the earliest we've found, I've posted it. Thanks, Q.
-Joe-

Click to play (1916 tune)


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Subject: RE: Origins: White Coral Bells/White Choral Bells
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 08 Sep 10 - 08:13 PM

European Lily of the Valley, May Bells, Our Lady's Tears, are all names for the same plant, Convallaria majalis.
It grows from Zome 4 to zone 8. All parts of the plant are poisonous if ingested.
Attractive to bees, butterflies.
Invasive, can become a noxious weed in certain situations.

White coral bells belong to Heuchera
The cultivar Silver Scrolls has white to near-white flowers.
Cultivars of Heuchera sanguinea have flowers that may be white, pink, or shades in between. Heuchera pubescens is always white to near-white.
Also attractive to bees.


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Subject: RE: Origins: White Coral Bells/White Choral Bells
From: GUEST,Grishka
Date: 09 Sep 10 - 09:27 AM

Q and Joe, if my hearing doesn't betray me, your MIDIs have exactly the same melody as the file linked to right on top of this thread, just transposed and repeated.

Does "4/4 Round" mean four-part? If so, when would Hollis Dann let the second voice start? After two bars???

How old is Jerry Silverman's melody/continuation (which covers the entire text without repeating, as pointed out before)? Who has ever sung it "in vivo"?

The Quest continues.


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Subject: RE: Origins: White Coral Bells/White Choral Bells
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 09 Sep 10 - 02:23 PM

4/4 means sung in 4/4 time.


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Subject: RE: Origins: White Coral Bells/White Choral Bells
From: GUEST,Grishka
Date: 09 Sep 10 - 05:26 PM

@Q: So this is settled, thank you very much. Thanks to all the posters also from Bjarne (via phone).

@Ceto: In theory, this would improve your chances. But I'm afraid, however good your composition: for "proposing" to Girl Scouts you are probably late by many decades ;-).

The other questions remain to be answered.


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Subject: RE: Origins: White Coral Bells/White Choral Bells
From: GUEST,Grishka
Date: 15 Oct 10 - 10:06 AM

To refresh this thread, I took the trouble to transcribe the four-part version in Jerry Silverman's book, following Guest Ceto's pattern, transposed from G major to C major:

X: 2
T: White Coral Bells 2.1
C: trad, Jerry Silverman: Earth and Nature Songs, Mel Bay Publ., 2008, p. 55 (in G major)
M: C
L: 1/4
K: C
c2 B A | G3    E | F A G F | E4    |
C E D F | E G c e | d2 B2 | c4    |
c2 d c | e3    e | g f f a | g4    |
g e f d | e c g e | G2 d2 | c4    ||


Guest Alex' D major variant differs from this at the end of the third line. Who else has ever sung or read any of these, when and where?

(Mel Bay is a coincidential spoonerism of May Bell ...)

To play or display ABC tunes, try concertina.net


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Subject: RE: Origins: White Coral Bells/White Choral Bells
From: Joe Offer
Date: 15 Oct 10 - 09:31 PM

Hi, Grishka-
I'd suggest adding Q: 140 to the heading of that ABC notation.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Origins: White Coral Bells/White Choral Bells
From: GUEST,Grishka
Date: 16 Oct 10 - 06:11 AM

Hi Joe,

thanks for suggesting a tempo header, which is useful for those who create a MIDI convesion. My own preference would be Q:180, in alla-breve feeling.

I must confess that I'm not good at ABC and essentially copied Ceto's lines; I was very proud to add that extra vertical at the end ;-)

Thanks also for mentioning the concertina.net/tunes_convert.html, which I didn't know before and tried out immediately. Very handy and quick!

Grishka


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Subject: RE: Origins: White Coral Bells/White Choral Bells
From: GUEST,MSL
Date: 14 Nov 10 - 05:22 PM

I am astounded to find this. Both its longevity and how many people have been touched by this song.

I am particularly thankful to the 2003 post about a child's Colonial rattle and the years later reference to that post.

Here is a reference from the web: Under the Ralph Willard Tower Antique Show:'An oil on canvas framed portrait...of a child holding a silver rattle with coral and bells. This childhood artifact of the 18th century usually consisted of a sterling silver tubular body terminating in a whistle...a small polished piece of red or orange coral for teething would be fixed at the end opposite the whistle... They were well known in Colonial America.'

The Worcester Art Museum has a portrait of a child (2nd portrait)with a similar rattle by Joseph Badger and they also have references to similar silver and gold rattles at Yale and in New York. They apparently were made both here and in England.

An Article in Antique Digest on line called "Magic Bells" refers to the magic protective quality of coral.

And this:"From earliest times coral has been used as an amulet to protect children from childish diseases and teething troubles. In Mediterranean lands a string of tiny coral branches or beads is still kept on a child's cradle or placed about its neck immediately after its birth. If worn throughout childhood, coral was believed to have power to make the girl beautiful; it preserved her youth and beauty until as a mother she sacrificed her beads for her children."also from the web.

So I had an Oh My moment similar to one of your members who concluded that coral bells "are" lily of the valley. It is a metaphor. The protection of the garden walk by flower amulets would be best understood by children using one of their familiar toys.

"Choral Bells" works metaphorically as well but I think the association with the nursery is stronger. It is possible that it is a play on words protected by no early written versions.

I too have had this in my head for decades. As I grew up I was puzzled by the reference to a different flower in the sentence but I feel comfortable now that this is not an issue of identifying flowers correctly.

I think it is entirely possible that these rattles were actually called 'Coral Bells' and if that were true I think all could rest this case.(without a date!) It would be wonderful to find a nursery reference of Coral Bells as the proper name for the rattle and not just descriptive.

When I was growing up in Connecticut, mother had a bed (15'x 15')of what she referred to as Colonial Lily of the Valley. She told me that she and my father had dug the starter plants for it from a Colonial bed near what is now Colchester. She always had a bouquet, 10" across, in a bowl when they were in bloom. She dug some for me and I have them in my kitchen garden where they have been happily spreading in moist soil and filtered light, protecting us (as I have now learned) from evil spirits.

Here's to the next decade(s)of celebrating "Coral Bells"!
Thank you all. MSL


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Subject: RE: Origins: White Coral Bells/White Choral Bells
From: SharonA
Date: 10 Jun 11 - 09:58 PM

Logging in to say hello and to refresh this thread! I have a gig tomorrow to play campfire songs for 9-year-old girls and, never having done it before, I have been surfing the 'net for songs remembered from my own 9-year-old-ness. Count on good ol' Mudcat to have a thread about "White Coral Bells"! It's been a pleasure to read through it and learn so much about the song (and the plant) (and the rattle)!

I come down on the side of those who feel that "white coral bells upon a slender stalk" is simply a poetic description of the Lily-of-the-Valley blooms. The blooms are white, they're delicate like coral (not coral-pink in color, since they're white!), and they look like bells. I don't believe that any reference to a second plant variety (Heuchera) was intended, and I would suggest resisting the urge to over-analyze the song in a way that would include this second plant in it. After all, the blooms of the Heuchera plant mentioned in this thread don't resemble little bells that one would wish to hear being rung by fairies... but the blooms of the Lily-of-the-Valley plant do! Therefore, this being a very short song/poem, I believe that the author was "staying on topic" by discussing only ONE plant variety.

I'm intrigued by the sub-topic of the colonial-era baby's rattle! I had no idea that coral was used for teething tots back then. I wonder if people soaked the coral in cold water to make it more soothing for baby, just as some of today's teething toys are meant to be refrigerated for baby's comfort.

I love Animaterra's poison-ivy parody of WCB! I will teach it to the kids tomorrow. Thanks, Allison!

Sharon
(not lurking much these days, but still coming to Mudcat for information about music as needed!)


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Subject: RE: Origins: White Coral Bells/White Choral Bells
From: GUEST
Date: 31 Oct 11 - 03:25 PM

Sorry I have no info on "White Coral Bells." But I was interested in your mention of the song "Drifting." As a child, I also played that song from a John Thompson piano book.

The words as I remember them are: Light is our bark, brothers. Rest on your oars. Fair are the winds and the tide. Past the gray hills and the green wooded shores, o'er the calm river we glide.

It has more lyrics (at least four more lines), but those are all I remember.


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Subject: RE: Origins: White Coral Bells/White Choral Bells
From: GUEST,Girl Scout camp, Minnesota
Date: 20 Oct 12 - 03:02 PM

Who are these, swinging along the road
With a pack on their back, a song in their heart, to ease the load
It's been 50 years or more since they walked in through that door,
But they're coming along as happy and strong as ever they came before
They are guides all guides and in unexpected places
You'll meet their friendly faces and a friendly, happy smile,
And there's not much danger of finding you're a stranger
For commissioner or ranger they are guides, all guides.

Who are these, living in fresh air
With the shimmering sun, the pattering rain and mud everywhere
They will dine beneath the boughs and their leader always vows that they're never afraid of butterflies and hardly ever of bear!
They are Guides all guides...etc.


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Subject: RE: Origins: White Coral Bells/White Choral Bells
From: GUEST
Date: 21 Oct 12 - 01:46 PM

Here's to the next decade(s)of celebrating "Coral Bells"!

indeed.
I was pretty surprised when I opened this thread to find that the OP was mine! [my OP hadn't included "choral"] This amazing collaboration of scholarship and musicianship on the Mudcat forum represent the very best of sharing.
Thanks for the many historical, geographical, botanical, and musical insights.

keep on pickin'
dennis


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Subject: RE: Origins: White Coral Bells/White Choral Bells
From: GUEST,CallieIsSpooky
Date: 11 Nov 12 - 10:55 AM

I just wanted to say thank you to the person who posted the lyrics to Cloud Ships, I've been searching all over! My kids' favorite lullaby at night, only I could not remember most of the lyrics.


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Subject: RE: Cloud Ships
From: GUEST,Kathleen Moors
Date: 11 Sep 13 - 01:59 PM

When I was a wee girl, I did a clapping game with my friends to the song, Cloud Ships...does anyone have memory of that?


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Subject: RE: Origins: White Coral Bells/White Choral Bells
From: GUEST,Rahere
Date: 11 Sep 13 - 03:29 PM

Not the tune, but the tradition, is alive in Belgium and quite a ot of France as a family good-will May-day gift. Researching Muguet links the symbolism to the Maypole through the norse goddess Eostre. Another descent leads to a Russian folksong made famous in the 1960s, which isn't structurally anywhere close to this tune.
What might be within reach is the nursery rhyme associated with the gift, in standard French 18th Century form, but with words which may well be far older, is here. It has a vague parallel to the American version, which makes me think it might be worth looking in either Canadian or Arcadian traditions for a halfway house.


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Subject: RE: Origins: White Coral Bells/White Choral Bells
From: GUEST,josi
Date: 26 Feb 14 - 02:07 PM

Sang as a Girl Scout in Connectut during 1950's as a round.
1. White coral bells upon s slender stalk.
2. Lilies of the valley deck my garden walk.
3. Oh don't you wish that you could hear them ring.
4. That will only happen when the fairies sing.

Heuchera is called coral bells and comes in white variety. Lily of the valley is a different species.

I think the lyrics clearly have origin in an English speaking country. Melody origin could be different.

One of my favorite songs from childhood.


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Subject: RE: Origins: White Coral Bells/White Choral Bells
From: GUEST,Guest
Date: 12 May 14 - 06:08 PM

I learned this song as a lullaby in the late 60's / early 70's, but the words were a bit different.

White coral bells upon a slender stalk
Lillies of the Valley deck my garden wall
Don't you wish that we
Could hear those bells a ringin'?
That happens only when the faries sing.


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Subject: RE: Origins: White Coral Bells/White Choral Bells
From: GUEST,Stafford M. Hall
Date: 23 Apr 16 - 07:24 PM

I'm 92 years of age and my wife learned this song in Girl Scouts in the 1935 era. I still play it on my Electric Keyboard in 2016. It sure is a very beautiful tune.


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Subject: RE: Origins: White Coral Bells/White Choral Bells
From: GUEST,DrWord
Date: 23 Apr 16 - 11:07 PM

Hey Stafford! Good to read your post ~ and glad you're playing your keyboard AND posting to Mudcat. The thread title caught my eye ~ then opened it to find I was the OP. Re-read a lot of the thread ~ great contributions, rather typical of the wonderful tradition of this forum. Keep playing and keep posting. I'll be humming the melody for a while now…
keep on pickin'
dennis


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Subject: RE: Origins: White Coral Bells/White Choral Bells
From: leeneia
Date: 24 Apr 16 - 11:35 PM

I am going to contribute some technical stuff.

1. It is an error to start thinking about heuchera and go bumbling off into the realm of the coral bells plant. The song is about lily of the valley.

So why coral bells? In the olden days, jewelry was carved from the pure white stone of coral reefs. I've seen it (I hope antique) for sale in Florida, and it is amazing how radiantly white a matte stone can be. The song is comparing the small white blooms of the lily of the valley to this coral jewelry.

I believe it is now illegal to produce this.

2. When I learned this song at the age of 10, I thought it was really ugly, and when it came time so sing songs in the 4H, I hoped it would be skipped. Fortunately, it usually was.

Decades would pass before I learned what the problem was. The problem was the long I in "white." It is a diphthong, which moves from ah to ee. If you have a number of untrained singers and some are singing ah while others are singing ee, the music seems out of tune. Thus my impression that "White Coral Bells" starts out really sour.

If it was "soft coral bells" or "sweet coral bells", it would come out better. I learned all about diphthongs from a person with a PhD in choral conducting, who was hired to coach our church choir for some big Christmas concerts. What she said made sense, and the way I dealt with it was to stand in front of a good singer and do exactly what she did when singing diphthongs. That way we blended.

Just for fun, I made a MIDI of the song and played it as a round. It's actually quite pretty.


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Subject: RE: Origins: White Coral Bells/White Choral Bells
From: GUEST,Grishka
Date: 27 Apr 16 - 04:27 AM

The song is comparing the small white blooms of the lily of the valley to this coral jewelry.
That makes very good sense, leeneia! Now the question arises whether this points us to the USA, perhaps to Florida in particular? Were there other places where lyricists could assume such jewelry to be known?

(I remember the time when coral necklaces were fashionable in Europe, imported, of course, and always red or pink. I found them horrible, firmly associated to "maiden aunts without any understanding of little boys - and vice versa".)


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Subject: RE: Origins: White Coral Bells/White Choral Bells
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 27 Apr 16 - 10:04 AM

Hello, Grishka. I'm pretty sure that white coral jewelry was widespread. If you google "coral jewelry image" you will find necklaces in soft orange (coral-colored)and white.


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