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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in Yule carols

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The Death or Glory Wassail

As if the Yuletide weren't already dangerous enough, here come the Thug Wassailers.

Forthwith, yet another comedic masterpiece by the Grand Master of satirical British faux-ksong, Sid Kipper, here heard in redoubtable performance by Blanche Rowen and Mike Gulst.

Shell out and you won't be harmed.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Warlock's Lullaby

British composer Peter Warlock (b. Phillip Heseltine, 1894-1930) wrote this charming little lullaby as a Christmas carol in 1926. (You can hear the original here, in an arrangement by Andrew Carter.) 

I've re-written the lyrics slightly—certainly it could still be sung as a Yule carol—to make it into a general, any-time lullaby for any boy-child: baby god, baby warlock, or otherwise. 

For this I make no apologies. I suspect that a man who, because of his active interests in the occult, took the name "Warlock," would be delighted to know that witches were singing his song to their babies.

Absolutely delighted.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

What is it about the Stag and Yule? Three traditional Midwinter's carols about stags from all over Europe, as charming as they are mysterious.

 

Nine-Tined Stag

Nine-tined stag a-running came

(Kalado, nine-tined stag)

came and into water gazed,

gazed and counted tines.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Jaime Johnson
    Jaime Johnson says #
    These are beautiful and mysterious. I couldn't help but sing along as I read them; loving them!
  • tehomet
    tehomet says #
    Fascinating. I knew about the carol 'O the Rising of the Sun' which has the line about the running of the deer in its chorus, but

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Crying Yule

In 17th century Yorkshire, after the morning service on Christmas Day, people used to take hands and dance through the church shouting “Yule! Yule! Yule!”

I'll bet the vicar just loved that.

Crying Yule as a refrain to seasonal songs, chants, and dances is an old custom in the English-speaking world (as it still is in Scandinavia) with parallels in a number of non-Germanic cultures. To take just one example, a standard refrain in Latvian Midwinter carols is Kalado, Kalado; Kalado means “Christmas,” but it's yet another descendant of the wide-spread and influential Latin calendae, like Provençal Calena and Russian Kolyadá. The calends of January have much to answer for in the course of cultural (and linguistic) history.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

Given its iconic centrality to the American celebration, it's always struck me as odd that the Yule tree has inspired so few carols. Off-handedly, I can think of only one, and that one is, shall we say... problematic.

William Sansome once remarked of O Tannenbaum that it's apparently impossible to make an English translation of this German children's song “that doesn't sound simple-minded.”

Listening to Alf Houkom's Rune of Hospitality the other day, it occurred to me that maybe we've been working in the wrong genre.

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