two songs for Christmas!
I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day
Henry W. Longfellow (1864)
John B. Calkin (1872)
Merv Rowley 2008
This musical selection began as a poem written by
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow in 1864, during the Civil
War. Although it was entitled “Christmas Bells”, it
was actually written as an open protest against the
horrors of the war’s carnage. Longfellow was still
mourning the recent death of his wife at the time, and
had recently received notice of the serious wounding of
his son, Charles, a soldier in the Union Army. It was not until 1872 that this poem came to the
attention of a noted musical composer named John
Baptiste Calkin who had written a composition some years
earlier, called “Waltham”. It is he to whom we
attribute the origin of I
Heard the Bells on Christmas Day. Calkin found it
necessary to modify his music and to eliminate several
verses from Longfellow’s poem to emphasize the theme of Christmas
and the doctrine of “Peace on earth, good will to
music : Readers may find another version of this poem, set to
different music by Joseph Mainzer (1801-1851).
Perhaps the most well-known and popular version
of this song was written by John D. Marks, who changed
both music and lyrics but retained the same title. This
version is under copyright (1959 and 1970).
Notice the ease with which we can
play the chord progressions in line two because of the
stacking of notes by the 1-3-5 tuning.
Your 135 Team
In Yon Forest
Traditional English Carol
Arr: Ruth Randle, 2008
There can be no doubt about the
antiquity of this music. An early
version appears in a manuscript by Richard Hill
(ca. 1500 A.D) –
Lully, lullay. Lully, lullay.
The falcon hath borne my make away,
He bare him up,he bare him down,
He bare him to an orchard brown.
In that orchard there was a hall
That was hanged with purple and pall.
And in that hall there was a bed.
It was hanged with gold so red.
And in that bed there lieth a knight,
His wounds bleeding day and night
By that bed's side kneeled a may,
And she weepeth both night and day.
And by that bedside there standeth a stone
‘Corpus Christi’,written thereon.
Today, there are two versions that are played
and sung. The older one, arranged by Ruth, consists of music
and text compiled by Ralph V. Williams. The second
version was more recently collected in North Carolina by
John Jacob Niles, who also composed the music (which is
under copyright). Both are shown in the first two Historical Links
listed below. The third link is a lovely harp rendition
of the song; you will notice that the singer uses a
slightly different title line, Down In Yon Valley.
It seems most likely that this composition was
the work of one or more bards or wandering
troubadours sometime between the end of the Medieval and
the beginning of the Renaissance periods in England.
Over a period of many years, the lyrics were modified
and altered in true folk music tradition. The
lyrics reflect doctrines and liturgy of the Holy Church
of Rome. Historically, it was still a century or more
before the realms of King Henry VIII, Queen Mary or
Queen Elizabeth, the Protestant
Reformation in England or the founding of the Church of
England had occurred. During this unsettled period, Christmas was not
yet celebrated in a joyous spirit, for it was not a time
of “peace on Earth" nor "good will to men”.
We can see from the variety of lyrics shown here how
they were altered as monarchs and religious doctrines
Your 1-3-5 Team
a lovely harp and vocal rendition