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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in Yule carols
A Yule Carol by (I Kid You Not) Margaret Murray

Early 20th-century maverick archaeologist Margaret Murray (1863-1963) needs no introduction, her 1921 Witch-Cult in Western Europe having been instrumental in getting the whole witchcraft-revival wheel turning.

Before becoming a revisionist historian, however, she was first and foremost an Egyptologist. Her somewhat libertarian translation of a 19th Dynasty hymn to the Sun’s rebirth makes a charming (if rather ponderous) addition to the repertoire of Yule carols, especially for those of us weary of “little Lord Sun God, asleep in the hay”-type rewrites.

For the non-Egyptians among us, I've appended a de-Kemetized version as well.

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  • Haley
    Haley says #
    But, of course! Thank you.
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Good question, Haley. Judging from the lyrics, I could imagine something joyous, triumphant, maybe a little bombastic, rather like
  • Haley
    Haley says #
    Thank you, Steven. What sort of tune do you have in mind with this?

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Sing Holly, Sing Ivy

 A few posts back, I wrote about the need for more Ivy carols to replace those that we've lost. Well, here's a new one. For reasons best known only to my poet's intuition, I've cast it in the form of an Elizabethan art song. I've tried to remain true both to botanical reality and to the genre's traditional (if playful) gender wars. There's a tune waiting out there somewhere, I'm sure of it.

Sing Holly, Sing Ivy


Of all the trees

that in winter be green,

sing Holly, sing Ivy,

if Holly be king,

then Ivy is queen.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

Lots of us have a hard time figuring out holiday music.  We want something that evokes the sound of Yuletide music from our childhoods but we don’t want to be forced to celebrate a religious experience that we don’t share.  So here’s a short list of some Pagan Yuletide music that you can share!

This Endris Night by Heather Dale

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  • Samuel Wagar
    Samuel Wagar says #
    Jaiya - wonderful band from Mayne Island in British Columbia.

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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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  • 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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