Posts tagged ‘Roud 597’

December 22, 2021

The Trees are all Bare / The Sussex Carol

It’s been a pretty quiet year for the A Folk Song A Week blog – although I have posted quite a lot of tunes on my Squeezed Out site (in fact, in a daring piece of cross-platform syndication, I shall be sharing this same video on that blog too).

The video here was filmed at the end of the final gig in a run of half a dozen Magpie Lane Christmas concerts, at the rather lovely 12th century church of St. Leonard, Bengeo, Hertford.

In the interval I asked the vicar if he’d mind filming the last number on my phone. At which point he introduced me to Dr Mike Howarth, an audience member who just happens to be a former BBC cameraman. Mike is clearly used to working with rather higher quality equipment than the camera on my Android phone, but he wasn’t going to let that get in the way of some rather more interesting camera work than the static point and shoot video I had been envisaging! So many thanks, Mike, for producing this lovely souvenir of our Christmas gigs.

What you have here are:

  • First, the Copper family’s ‘The Trees are all Bare’ – always the final song in our Christmas programme, ever since 1994. For more on this song, see Week 175 – The Trees are All Bare.
  • And then the obligatory encore (although on this occasion we had to prompt the audience to demand one!). This invariably consists of the Shetland tune ‘Christmas Day i’da mornin” segueing into ‘The Sussex Carol’. That, too, has been featured on this blog before – almost exactly 10 years ago, as Week 18 – The Sussex Carol.

Having not performed together since December 2020, it was great to be playing with Magpie Lane again. Even if I could never quite rid myself of the worry that, with a new variant on the loose, we were all in great danger of getting infected, just before Christmas.

Many thanks to

  • Ed Pritchard, for stepping in so magnificently to dep for Mat Green.
  • The event organisers who took sensible COVID precautions in order to keep band and audience safe
    (N.B. for anyone wondering if there should have been a comma after “event organisers” – no, a comma was very deliberately omitted, and you can make of that what you will).
  • The audience members who tested before coming to a gig, who wore masks, and kept their distance, but nevertheless (we hope) had an enjoyable night out.

 

The Trees are all Bare

Andy Turner – vocal, C/G anglo-concertina
Ian Giles – vocal
Ed Pritchard  – fiddle
Sophie Thurman – cello
Jon Fletcher – vocal, bouzouki

 

Christmas Day i’da mornin’ / The Sussex Carol

Ian Giles – vocal, percussion
Andy Turner – vocal, G/D anglo-concertina
Ed Pritchard  – hardanger fiddle
Sophie Thurman – vocal, cello
Jon Fletcher – vocal, bouzouki

December 24, 2011

Week 18 – The Sussex Carol

Not, of course, specifically a Sussex carol: the Roud Index lists versions collected from oral tradition in counties including Shropshire, Gloucestershire, Surrey, Herefordshire and Hampshire; while the Bodleian has copies of early nineteenth centuryballad sheets printed in London and Birmingham. Indeed, according to Wikipedia the words were first published by Luke Wadding, a 17th-century Irish bishop, in a work called Small Garland of Pious and Godly Songs (1684).

But Vaughan Williams collected this version from Mrs Verrall, of Monk’s Gate, Horsham in Sussex, in 1904, and his arrangement of the carol was included in the Oxford Book of Carols, first published in 1928 (he had also incorporated it into his Fantasia on Christmas Carols, first performed in 1912).

I’ve always enjoyed singing this carol, but these days it has a particular significance for me as it’s almost invariably the song which closes our Magpie Lane Christmas concerts in Oxford. As such it brings a mixture of emotion: exhilaration at the completion of a successful concert in front of a supportive home crowd, and a general feeling of goodwill-to-all-men-it’s-almost-Christmas; mixed with a tinge of sadness because this year’s concerts are over, and we won’t be dusting off this repertoire again for another twelve months.

Here the lead vocals are taken by my wife Carol, with my eldest son Joe on fiddle. A very happy Christmas from all of us.

Christmas ballad sheet from the Bodleian Library collection

Christmas ballad sheet from the Bodleian Library collection

The Sussex Carol

Carol Turner: vocal
Andy Turner: vocal, G/D anglo-concertina
Joe Turner: fiddle