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Sing Christmas - Alan Lomax - 1957

21 Dec 20 - 06:42 AM (#4084426)
Subject: Sing Christmas - Alan Lomax - 1957
From: GUEST,CJB666

This largely ignored and forgotten programme by the BBC and Alan Lomax needs wider publicity. Long before Zoom and indeed before computers let alone the Internet, the BBC and Alan Lomax created a live multi-regional simulcast of numerous Xmas folk events around the UK.

The complete recordings are now on the Cultural Equity website (in full), and the other on YouTube (minus one item).


Way back last century one folklorist Alan Lomas created a live programme for the BBC called "Sing Christmas."

It featured live transmissions of numerous Xmas folk activities around the UK. It was a pioneering broadcast.

Despite it being thought that there was no recordings of the live transmissions one vinyl 33rpm LP and one 78rpm disc were recently discovered in the Alan Lomax Archives in Washington DC.


There are now two ways to listen to this amazing broadcast.

1/ YouTube -an upload from the professional restoration

The Concert & Radio Series: Sing Christmas And The Turn Of The Year "The Live Christmas Day 1957 Broadcast On BBC Radio" - The Alan Lomax Collection

1/ Introduction / Good King Wenceslas
2/ Caroling In The Dark / Good King Wenceslas / This Is The Truth Sent From Above / The Holly And The Ivy
3/ Boscastle Breakdown / Padstow Wassail Song / St. David's Day Dance / I Wonder As I Wander (Medley)
4/ We Wish You A Merry Christmas / Narration / Caroling Scene (Medley)
5/ Peace O'Er The World
6/ Introduction To "The Ballad Of Jesus Christ" - Ewan MacColl
7/ The Ballad Of Jesus Christ - Ewan MacColl - Topic
8/ Excerpt From Shepherd's Nativity Play / Shepherd's Cradle Song / Coventry Carol / Excerpt From Wisbech Nativity Play (Medley) · Hollinwood Girl's Choir · Stephen Kirby · Ronald Soules · Walter Slasher
9/ Christmas In London (Narration) - Charles Chilton
10/ The Derby Ram
Various Artists - Topic
11/ Christmas Morning Calypso
12/ Unite
13/ Pretty Little Baby - Peggy Seeger
14/ Reading From Luke 2: 15-19 / Psalm 23 / The Mother's Consecration (Coistrig Mathar) / The Christ Child Lullaby (Taladh An Leinibh Losa) / Saint Mary's Men Are We · Peter Buchan · Crew Of The Twinkling Star · Katie Ann Nicholson · Flora MacNeil
15/ The Day We Went To Rothsay-O
16/ Regional Hookup - God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
17/ Cromwell Versus Father Christmas (Story) - Alan Lomax
18/ The Jug Of Punch / Viny Ridge March - The McPeake Trio
19/ Royal Belfast Hornpipe / Millicent's Hornpipe / The Tenpenny Bit / The Dublin Reel (Medley)
20/ The Cherry Tree Carol - Shirley Collins
21/ Anglesey Carol (Ar Gyfe Heddiwr Bore) / Hiraeth (On This Day's Morning)
22/ Excerpt From The Symondsbury Mummers Play / Donny Brook Fair (Winlaton Sword Dance)
23/ Good King Wenceslas / When The Saints Go Marching In
24/ T'Was Mary Conceived / The Noble Stem Of Jesse - Dominic Behan
25/ The Lord's Prayer (In Welsh)
26/ O Come All Ye Faithful (Adeste Fidelis) / The Gift Of Power / Metrical Psalm In Gaelic
27/ No Room At The Inn (Story) / Last Month Of The Year - Alan Lomax
28/ Hark, What News The Angels Bring / I Saw Three Ships Come Sailing In / Wassail, Wassail, All Over This Town / Here We Come A-Wassailing (Medley) · Charlie Bate · Shirley Collins


2/ Cultural Equity - The Alan Lomax Archives - an upload from the original recordings

Written by Alan Lomax, produced by Charles Parker, and recorded by the BBC Home Service. Notes by Ken Hunt

Scroll down to listen &/or download

NOTE: 'Sing Christmas' starts at: 47:27


There is also a BBC Archive Hour programme about the making of this programme:

Sing Christmas

Archive on 4

On Christmas Day 1957, the BBC made a ground-breaking hour-long live broadcast, transmitting Christmas songs from around the British Isles. Texan folklorist and broadcaster Alan Lomax was the host.

The broadcast was a mixture of ancient carols, folk songs, calypso, West African music, dixieland, skiffle, children's carols and glees. Singers across the country contributed live performances, with Lomax sitting at the centre of the web in a Birmingham studio. It was thrilling, innovative and daring.

This musical time capsule gathers the memories of those involved to recapture the flavour of this pioneering BBC broadcast.

Producer: Jolyon Jenkins

First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in 2004.


21 Dec 20 - 06:44 AM (#4084427)
Subject: RE: Sing Christmas - Alan Lomax - 1957
From: GUEST,CJB666

Sorry - missing clicky:


21 Dec 20 - 08:43 AM (#4084434)
Subject: RE: Sing Christmas - Alan Lomax - 1957
From: Reinhard

What's the urgency? This has been available on CD (Rounder Records 11661-1850-2) for 20 years now.

21 Dec 20 - 12:16 PM (#4084467)
Subject: RE: Sing Christmas - Alan Lomax - 1957
From: FreddyHeadey

idk if the quality is the same but there's also a version dated 2000 on Spotify.

22 Dec 20 - 06:13 AM (#4084562)
Subject: RE: Sing Christmas - Alan Lomax - 1957
From: GUEST,Ewan McVicar

I don't have the Rounder CD to hand, but are all the listings as above? I do not recognise some. And as I recall at least a couple of the items seemed to me to be recordings though they were all presented as live from studios around the country. Lomax did this on a couple of BBC radio progs.

22 Dec 20 - 06:38 AM (#4084565)
Subject: RE: Sing Christmas - Alan Lomax - 1957
From: Reinhard

Looks similar to the Rounder CD Sing Christmas and the Turn of the Year.

22 Dec 20 - 07:32 PM (#4084641)
Subject: RE: Sing Christmas - Alan Lomax - 1957
From: GUEST,Felipa

Track 7, The Ballad of Jesus Christ, is also known as the Ballad of the Carpenter. I used to sing it at sessions in December, but I've decided that this song is really more appropriate as an Easter time song. There is nothing in the ballad about the nativity; the song starts with Jesus as a child arguing with the Aldermen and then his father he apprenticed him a carpenter to be. The song is more about Jesus the adult organizer and then Jesus crucified.

It could also be a Labour Day / May day song. You can sing it anytime. But it doesn't fit so well as a Christmas song.

I had learned the Ballad of the Carpenter from a Phil Ochs recording. I'm surprised how fast Ewan MacColl sang it for the Sing Christmas album.

23 Dec 20 - 07:00 AM (#4084684)
Subject: RE: Sing Christmas - Alan Lomax - 1957
From: GUEST,Ewan McVicar

Fair enough, the ones I don't recall are there on the CD listing. More memory cells faded away!

23 Dec 20 - 05:08 PM (#4084753)
Subject: RE: Sing Christmas - Alan Lomax - 1957
From: GUEST,CJB666

The damned adverts on this thread confuses the flow.

The version on YouTube - again interrupted by damn adverts - appears to be the CD version. It includes track: 27/ No Room At The Inn (Story) / Last Month Of The Year - Alan Lomax

This track is missing from the Cultural Equity version on grounds of time and file size. This is strange because its only a short track anyway.