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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
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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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