The rising of the sun

sun wreath

The rising of the sun and the running of the deer,
The playing of the merry organ, sweet singing in the choir.

Chorus from traditional carol The Holly and the Ivy, from a broadside of about 1710 and therefore at least a little older than that. The words to the verses confirm that carols aren’t just for midwinter but also for seasons such as Lent and Easter.

Used for both verse and chorus, the simple but effective tune in the Ionian or C mode allows both for unison playing (recorders, carillon) as well as more interesting harmonisation or counterpoint. The wreath, with its eye catching centre roundel, is from a door in Crickhowell, Powys, and the doorknocker confirms that the door is in Wales.

Love and joy come to you, as the wassail song has it, and thank you all for another year of fascinating dialogues! As the sun gradually makes its presence felt after the winter solstice I hope and wish that 2016 brings you all that you hope for.

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10 thoughts on “The rising of the sun

  1. And to you! I do hope you had a great time.
    I love the Holly and the Ivy – I love any carol that has the sound of centuries about it: ‘I Saw Three Ships’, ‘God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen’. But my favourite is ‘The Coventry Carol’, an old, old tune with a sad and frightening story behind it – the Massacre of the Innocents. Tragic and beautiful.

    1. Me too, Lynn, I prefer the traditional ‘traditional’ carols to the ‘traditional’ seasonal songs like ‘Have yourself a very merry Christmas’ or even the pious Victorian Christmas hymns like ‘It Came Upon a Midnight Clear’. The Coventry Carol and its ilk, they’ve often a harder edge to them as well as more character.

      1. There’s nothing like an edge of tragedy or fear to contrast with the positive side of the season – the dark and the light. Those old tunes are so evocative – a real way to connect with the past. I remember my mum playing an LP of Thomas Tallis music – I always loved Vaughan Williams Fantasia on the Tallis melody. Music opens a tiny window into Tudor sensibilities. And it’s beautiful, of course

        1. I was privileged to sing in Tallis’ ineffable 40-part Spem in Alium in St Davids medieval Cathedral (its premiere in West Wales, maybe even in all Wales) not once but twice — never to be forgotten experiences: every voice has its own individual part, contributing to an exquisite wall of sound.

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