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Xmas Carols from North-East England

15 Dec 15 - 06:24 AM (#3758501)
Subject: Xmas Carols from North-East England
From: GUEST,George Frampton

Having seen 'Voices at the Door' give a magnificent performance at Newcastle Cathedral last night, of unfamiliar versions of carols from throughout the UK (plus one from France), could any 'catter (or WGMA member) tell me if there are any carols - either familiar with unusual tunes, or unique to the region that they know of.

To date, most of the elderly people I've spoken to sing me 'Winchester Old' when asked what tune did you sing 'While Shepherds Watched' to when younger. 'Hark the Herald Angels' also came out as the Mendelssohn tune.

I haven't yet had a chance to explore the region's archives offices, nor trawled through the FARNE website - that's a job for the New Year!

15 Dec 15 - 07:59 AM (#3758516)
Subject: RE: Xmas Carols from North-East England
From: Dave Sutherland

There are carols with frequent references to The Newborn King.
(I'll get me coat)

15 Dec 15 - 06:00 PM (#3758649)
Subject: RE: Xmas Carols from North-East England
From: DMcG

I was told at the weekend by a musical director of a west gallery group that Winchester old was chosen for 'While Shepherds watched' precisely because no-one sang it: picking anyone's local version would have invited trouble.

He mentioned 156 melodies, but I am not sure if that was versions he had or versions he knew of.

15 Dec 15 - 06:29 PM (#3758652)
Subject: RE: Xmas Carols from North-East England
From: GUEST,henryp

Roy Palmer included Hush My Babe (The Dunstan Lullaby) in his collection Bushes and Briars, ISBN 1-86143-072-8. I understand he found it in a Ralph Vaughan Williams' notes, British Library MSS 54187/91.

He adds; "Traditional lullabies are rare in English, although they still flourish in Gaelic-speaking parts of Britain and also in Europe. Oddly enough, the anti-soporific dandling song is much less uncommon in England. This lullaby came in 1906 from a Mr Thompson of Dunstan, Northumberland, who had learned it from his mother fifty years previously. It was still sung by the mothers of Dunstan to their children. I wonder if it still is."

It appears to be a much cut-down oral form of A Cradle Hymn, written by Isaac Watts (1674-1748), which can be seen in the Oxford Book of English Verse (ISBN 0-19-214182-1).

Carol 130 in the Oxford Book of Carols"(ISBN 0-19-353314-6), is "Watt's Cradle Song" and the melody is described as "Northumbrian (Freely arr M.S.)". The notes further say "Watt's words are here set to a traditional carol tune, sung to these words and noted in Northumberland by R. Vaughan Williams".

With thanks to folkinfo by Joe Offer. Coope Boyes and Simpson have recorded the Dunstan Lullaby too.

15 Dec 15 - 06:59 PM (#3758658)
Subject: RE: Xmas Carols from North-East England
From: GUEST,henryp

Eric Boswell was born Eric Simpson in Millfield, Sunderland, son of a tailor and a seamstress. He studied piano from age seven and later organ under Clifford Hartley, organist of Bishopwearmouth Church (now Sunderland Minster). After degrees in Electrical Engineering from Sunderland Technical College and Physics from Birkbeck College, London, Boswell joined Marconi as a scientist working with radar before becoming a Physics lecturer.

Meanwhile, he spent his leisure time writing serious piano music and light songs. Some of Boswell's 1970s ballads such as Tyneside's Where I Come From, Sweet Waters of Tyne and But It's Mine had joined the likes of The Blaydon Races and The Lambton Worm in the canon of northern traditional songs, and are still regularly performed in the region's folk clubs.

In 1959, while hawking his more commercial songs to London's Tin Pan Alley music publishers, Boswell encountered Gracie Fields at the music publisher Chappell who she was visiting to seek a song to revive her career. Boswell offered her Little Donkey, his telling of Mary and Joseph's journey to Bethlehem, and Fields' recording, and another by The Beverley Sisters, made the song the Christmas hit of 1959, being No. 1 in the then dominant UK Sheet Music Chart from mid November until New Year. The song was a hit again at Christmas 1960 for Nina & Frederik.

In 1970, Boswell wrote another Christmas song Boy From Bethlehem for his new publishers William Elkin. Although always in the shadow of Little Donkey, Boy From Bethlehem was recorded by the London Children's Choir and like its predecessor is often sung in British schools at Christmas. And there was a third song, How Many Days To Christmas Eve.

From Wikipedia

16 Dec 15 - 07:53 AM (#3758748)
Subject: RE: Xmas Carols from North-East England
From: GUEST,George Frampton

Thanks Henry.
Curiously, the Voices at the Door and CB&S CDs were out yesterday morning whilst writing cards, and the Dunston Lullaby is on one of them. (Dunston is just west of Gateshead)

I also hear that Pete Wood is leading carol singing (Sheffield carols) this Sunday lunchtime at the Cumberland Arms, Byker.