Posts tagged ‘Peter Kennedy’

December 31, 2011

Week 19 – The Moon Shines Bright

The last song to be posted here in 2011, and it’s another carol (we are only halfway through the twelve days of Christmas after all).

‘The Moon Shines Bright’ started off as a May carol, with a concluding verse along these lines

And now our song is almost done
And we can no longer stay,
So bless you all both great and small
And we wish you a joyful May.

As carols came to be associated almost exclusively with Christmas  time, this was easily changed to something like

So now my carol is almost done
No longer can we stay here,
May the Lord bless you all both great and small
And send you a happy New Year.

There’s a long discussion of the song, its history and association with various festivals, at

This version was recorded in the 1950s from Albert Beale of Kenardington in Kent, by Peter Kennedy and Maud Karpeles. I learned it many years ago from the BBC 78 rpm recording held at Cecil Sharp House; it was also included on the Folktrax cassette The Bitter Withy. Slightly different versions were taken down by Cecil Sharp from Albert’s married sister Alice Harden in 1911, and from his father James Beale in 1908; the latter is printed in the EFDSS collection Still Growing.

The Moon Shines Bright

Andy Turner: vocal, G/D anglo-concertina

October 23, 2011

Week 9 – The little ball of yarn

My first Irish song – in fact the first song so far not to have been collected in Southern England. I learned this from Peter Kennedy’s massive tome Folksongs of Britain & Ireland, which at the end of the 1970s I had on almost permanent loan from my local library (I think I got it as soon as it was added to stock, and nobody else knew it was there!). Kennedy collected the song, with Sean O’Boyle, from a young Irish traveller, Winnie Ryan. Peter Kennedy describes it thus

A group of travellers from Southern Ireland, singing around a camp-fire in Belfast in July 1952, resulted in some remarkable recordings of their style from the pretty young tinker girls. By the early hours of the morning, the men were under the spell of the Guinness, leaving the younger girls, some breast-feeding as they sang, tightly grasping the microphone one-by-one, and competing with each other in their display of vocal decorations in the love-songs.

sleevenotes to Folktrax cassette FTX-166 Blackwaterside: Irish Tinker Singers

The three young women were Mary Doran (21), Winnie Ryan (19) and Lal Smith (23). Of these I’m afraid to say that Lal Smith is the only one who appears to feature in my record collection (a stunning ‘Bold English Navvy’ on Songs of Seduction). Pretty sure I have heard Mary Doran singing as well, but don’t think I’ve ever heard Winnie Ryan.

Kennedy notes in the Folksongs of Britain & Ireland that he’s completed the words from versions of the song from English singers Tom Willett and Charlie Wills.

The Little Ball of Yarn