Welcome to our special page, added to help you remember (or find out about) our singing at Christmas 2019.
And here’s the first, for Tuesday 31st March 2020…. Shepherds Arise
1st April 2020……. Awake Arise
2nd April 2020……. Sweet Chiming Bells
April 3rd 2020:
Today’s soupçon is ‘How Beautiful Upon The Mountain’, and this rendition just about sums up how much fun and joy Castle Carols brings.
Note, in particular, the basses valiant attempts to be helpful by singing the first line in unerring falsetto!
April 4th 2020:
‘Lyngham’ is one of the many tunes used for the carol usually known as ‘While Shepherds Watched’. The familiar words are by Nahum Tate who, in around 1700, reworked the words from verses of St Luke’s gospel. The tune itself was composed in 1821 by Thomas Jarman, a tailor from Clipstone in Northamptonshire.
April 5th 2020:
And for today’s delectation we give you Emmanuel, voted as last year’s favourite carol. This is a brilliant adaptation and arrangement by John Kirkpatrick, and if that final chord doesn’t make the hairs on your arms stand up then you must have ice water in your veins!
April 6th 2020:
Today we bring you ‘ Hark! Hark!’ The words were in print from the early nineteenth century, and may well be older – the author is unknown. The music was composed in 1792 by John Hall of Sheffield. We hope you enjoy it.
April 7th 2020:
‘Mount Moriah’, and no, it’s nothing to do with Lord of the Rings! Dating from the 1820s, the composer is unknown. The author of the words is believed to be Dorothy Thrupp, 1779-1847, who was a prolific writer of hymns, especially well known for her many works written for children.
April 8th 2020:
The words for Jacob’s Well date from before 1770, by an unknown author. The music is by James Leach (1762 – 1798) of Wardle, Lancashire, who died when the stage-coach he was in lost a wheel and flung him out. The song, like William Blake’s Jerusalem, contains a vision of Christ travelling through the landscape of Britain.
April 9th 2020:
With a text dating back to the fifteenth century, and several variants popping up in Cornwall during the 1800s, this traditional version of ‘Nowell and Nowell’ has the words and tune sung by Mr Bartle Symons to Cecil Sharp in Camborne, Cornwall in 1913.
This is another of John’s arrangements.
April 10th 2020:
Another old favourite today – ‘Diadem’, taken from the second half of our Boxing Day sing, when the crowd had thinned about a bit in search of Three Tuns beer and turkey sandwiches.
Words are by Edward Perronet, 1779, music is by James Ellor, a hatmaker from Droylesden in Lancashire, 1838.
April 11th 2020:
The Holly And The Ivy – familiar words but maybe not so the tune, from Shropshire no less, collected by Cecil Sharp from Mrs Kilford in Lilleshall, Shropshire, on the 18th of December, 1911. Musical arrangement by John Kirkpatrick.
Sorry about the rather abrupt end – we had a bit of an issue in the editing suite.
Did we mention that this tune was from Shropshire?
April 12th 2020:
Hail Smiling Morn – originally written and composed by Reginald Spofforth (1769 – 1827) and published in “A Set Of Six Glees” in 1810. We know it’s not Christmas but there does seem a level of appropriateness for this song today, Easter Sunday, when, despite what is going on around us, we have a glorious spring day in our corner of the world, helping us to look forward to happier times to come. Good luck and stay safe everyone ❤️
April 13th 2020:
‘Rolling Downward’ is the very first carol sung officially as part of the Castle Carols repertoire – it was part of a ‘thank you’ presentation to Bishops Castle Town Council in 2018, on receiving a grant from them to help us get the project of the ground. It remains one of the all-time favourites. Words and music are attributed to the American pastor R Lowry, and were originally published in “Sacred Songs and Solos” in 1873, as “The Angels’ Song”.
April 14th 2020
Another setting of Nahum Tate’s ‘While Shepherds Watched’, by Thomas Clark, a Canterbury shoemaker, who lived from 1775 to 1859 and was a prolific composer of hymns and
every kind of church music. This tune ‘Eythorn’ dates from 1807.
April 15th 2020
OK, we admit it, this isn’t from our Boxing Day sing, its from one of the other Sundays in December but we hope you don’t mind. Again, the words ‘God Rest You Merry Gentlemen’ will be familiar but, although the tune is a traditional one from Cornwall, it isn’t the one that most people will know. The verses were arranged by Peter Wilton for Folk South West and the chorus by John Kirkpatrick.
April 16th 2020:
There are a few of these great old carols that have names that seem to have nothing to do with anything in particular – I’m sure someone will know why this one is called ‘Back Lane’. The words by Isaac Watts (1674 – 1748) have been regularly reprinted on ballad sheets and in books ever since he wrote them. The music was composed in the early nineteenth century by William Womack of Stannington, on the edge of Sheffield.
April 17th 2020
Hurrah! Today a song where both words and tune are familiar – except you may not necessarily have put them together! The tune was written as a hymn tune long before it was hijacked. Like Eythorn, Cranbrook was composed by the Canterbury shoemaker Thomas Clark, in 1805. He originally set different words to his tune, and various texts are still sung to it, depending on which religious sect you belong to. As you can hear and see, this is, as usual, sung with great gusto – more can belto than bel canto!
April 18th 2020:
A real treat today! In the mid-1990s John was commissioned by Folkworks to write a new carol for the ‘Wassail!’ tour. As he put it “here comes a full blown statement of the Christmas story”, whilst acknowledging the potency for many religions of the symbol of a baby being born in the middle of winter, bringing the promise of new life.It’s an epic song, conjuring up all sorts of images and the final verse has some words that seem pretty appropriate for these strange times……
As a candle can conquer the demons of darkness,
As a flame can keep frost from the deepest of cold,
So a song can bring hope in the depths of all danger
And a line of pure melody soar in the soul,
So sing your songs well, and sing your songs sweetly
And swear that your singing it never shall cease..“
April 19th 2020:
Another of the carols with an arcane name – ‘Egypt’. The author of the words is not known but the music is attributed to William Womack of Stannington, near Sheffield, written in the early years of the nineteenth century.
April 20th 2020
A bit of fun for a Monday morning!
‘Chuckling Hens’ was collated and arranged from traditional fragments and rhymes from Shropshire, Herefordshire, Worcestershire, Gloucestershire, Staffordshire, and The Black Country – where the verses sung by George Dunn (including the rude bit – listen carefully!) started the search for more. Some of us may remember singing this version with the Bishop’s Castle Wassailers in the early 2000s. Words and music arranged by John Kirkpatrick. Again, apologies for the abrupt ending – our editing suite leaves a lot to be desired!
April 21st 2020:
We’re getting towards the end of the Castle Carols repertoire now – just three left, but they’re good ones! The words for the anthem ‘Sound, Sound Your Instruments Of Joy’ date from the eighteenth century, author unknown, while the music was composed by W B Ninnis in the early nineteenth century. This was sung in Cornwall well into the twentieth century. The vicar of Mabe, Penryn, reported: “The choir sings as their ancestors did. They stand in a circle, the leader gives out the first line, and off they go, full tilt…..”.
April 22nd 2020
Our penultimate offering is a belter and was voted in the top three Castle Carols in 2019.
The words ‘Joy To The World’ are a paraphrase of Psalm 98 by Isaac Watts, written in 1719.The melody most widely paired with Watts’ text is ‘Antioch’, a tune attributed to Lowell Mason, a key figure in American church music. In reality, ‘Antioch’ had been around in England for several years, and rearranged by several English composers before Mason published it in the US in 1836 – but he was the first to pair it with Watts’ text.
This brilliant adaptation and arrangement is by John Kirkpatrick.