Saturday, December 31, 2011

Hogmanay Piper - Newburgh, Fife ,Scotland

Hogmanay Piper

Hogmanay is the Scots word for the last day of the year and is synonymous with the celebration of the New Year (Gregorian calendar) in the Scottish manner. It is, however, normally only the start of a celebration which lasts through the night until the morning of New Year's Day (1 January) or, in some cases, 2 January which is a Scottish Bank Holiday.

P & A Royal - hanging style

A Very Happy New Year to All

Friday, December 30, 2011

The Royal

Made by Plume & Atwood Mfg. Waterbury, CT and rolling mill at Thomaston, CT.

This is a Plume and Atwood Royal lamp

One of the Kerosene Lamps I gave Jim this Christmas

Victorian "white light" lamps are a wonder to behold when lighted. They produce a beautiful white reading light while consuming little fuel. This is a Plume & Atwood Royal lamp. It is called a center draft lamp. The lamps put out a great deal more light than a flat wick kerosene lamp. Plume & Atwood produced a full line of lamps and lamp accessories. Their lamp lines included Royal, Plumbwood and Naugatuck in table, bracket and hanging versions. Plume & Atwood made gas burners, shade rings of all descriptions, filler caps, and just about any brass lamp part you could mention. Their burners included Banner, a high quality Duplex, the Moehring and Harvard burners often associated with finer student lamps, the Hornet, Nutmeg and Acorn burners often found on night lamps, and scores more. Plume and Atwood (P&A) Royal oil lamps were produced by P&A starting around 1890 and for many years thereafter. They were very popular and were sold in at least 3 sizes (junior, No. 1, and No. 2.) , and were often nickel plated to reduce maintenance of the brass finish. P&A also made parts for many other major lamp manufacturing companies (including the Aladdin burner), and they also sold lamps to department stores that re-branded them with their various store names (especially with names on the flame spreader). P&A had it's main factory in Waterbury CN, but also had big warehouses in Boston, New York, and Chicago. The Royal line evolved into other models in the early 20th century. One was the Naugatuck, which was actually made up to the 1950's, P&A also made very popular brass oil pots/fonts for use with vase lamps, and these were branded as Royal, but often P&A made these pots for Fostoria (WV) lamps. The P&A plant was eventually destroyed by a flood in 1955, along with the lamp-making equipment.

Special thanks to Mr. Mike Moore of Maryland who restored and sold me this lovely lamp and also gave me some information to share with you on Plume and Atwood.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Monday, December 26, 2011

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Past Three O'Clock

Past three o'clock and a co-old frosty morning
Past three o'clock, good morrow masters all

Born is a baby, gentle as may be
So-on of the eternal, Father supernal

Past three o'clock and a co-old frosty morning
Past three o'clock, good morrow masters all

Seraph quire singeth, angel bell ringeth
Har-ark how-ow they rhyme it, time it and chime it

Past three o'clock and a co-old frosty morning
Past three o'clock, good morrow masters all

Mid earth rejoices hearing such voices
Ne'ertofore so well carolling Nowell

Past three o'clock and a co-old frosty morning
Past three o'clock, good morrow masters all

Hind o'er the pearly dewy lawn early
Seek the hi-i-igh Stranger laid in a manger

Past three o'clock and a co-old frosty morning
Past three o'clock, good morrow masters all

Cheese from thy dairy, bring it for Mary
A-and not for money, butter and honey

Past three o'clock and a co-old frosty morning
Past three o'clock, good morrow masters all

Light out the star-land leadeth from far land
Princes to meet him, worship and greet him

Past three o'clock and a co-old frosty morning
Past three o'clock, good morrow masters all

Myrrh from full coffer, incense they offer
Nor-or is the golden nugget withholden

Past three o'clock and a co-old frosty morning
Past three o'clock, good morrow masters all

Thus they I pray you, up sirs nor stay you
'Till ye-ee confess him, likewise and bless him

Past three o'clock and a co-old frosty morning
Past three o'clock, good morrow masters all...

"Past Three O'Clock" (or "Past Three A Clock") is a Christmas carol, loosely based on the traditional cry of the city night watchman:
Past three a clock,
And a cold frosty morning,
Past three a clock;
Good morrow, masters all!

The words were written by George Ratcliffe Woodward (1848–1934) to the traditional tune "London Waits". Woodward added lines to the traditional refrain in a style characteristic of his delight in archaic poetry. It was published in A Cambridge Carol Book: Being Fifty-two Songs for Christmas, Easter and Other Seasons in 1924.

Numerous variations of the carol include an arrangement by William Llewellyn as a "quodlibet" for choir: London Waits (Past Three O'clock).
Recordings of the carol include those by the Choir of Clare College, Cambridge, the Choir of King's College, Cambridge, the Monteverdi Choir and the Irish group The Chieftains as heard in this video.

Popular music artistes who have recorded the carol include Linda Ronstadt on the album A Merry Little Christmas (2000).

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Greetings!

Orkney Isles at Christmas

A moving and well done short film shot on location in the Orkney Isles at Christmas.

A Medieval Christmas

by Jane Gilbert

When we think of medieval Christmas, our minds are filled with images of royal banquets in halls bedecked with green, of minstrels singing festive songs, noble lords and ladies gorging themselves on roast goose. We imagine snow-topped hills, and fresh bright mornings, where the differences between rich and poor could be momentarily overlooked. Is it wrong to romanticize like this? There is evidence to suggest that our imaginations aren't far off the mark.

An Ancient Festival

The word 'Christes Maesse' surfaced in a Saxon book in 1038. But the roots of this festival stretch back much earlier. In late antiquity Christmas was not a time of revelry and fun, but instead a time for a special mass, quiet prayer and reflection. Until the fourth century, the church hadn't even fixed a date for Christmas. Eventually, Pope Julius I chose December 25th. It seems likely this was an attempt to christianize a pagan holiday that fell on that date.

Medieval folk were no strangers to Christmas excitement. William the Conqueror was crowned King of England in Westminster Abbey on Christmas day in 1066. This was such a momentous occasion that the cheering inside the Abbey made the guards outside think the king was being attacked. They ran to his assistance and the coronation ended in a riot, with people killed and houses burned.

But in Medieval times 25th December wasn't the most important date: Epiphany was celebrated with more gusto. Some people say that this day, 6th January or twelfth night, is to celebrate Christ's baptism, others that Epiphany marked the visit of the three kings bearing gifts to the baby Jesus. Some people forget that Christ was born at Christmas, but they don't forget the gift giving. While the kings may have brought gold, frankincense and myrrh instead of Nike trainers and Playstations, the tradition they started continues today.

The medieval holiday of Christmas is an amalgamation of Christian and pagan, old and new. In the pagan festival of Yule, druids blessed and burned a log and kept it burning for twelve days as part of the winter solstice. The church has its own version of this -- Candlemas, or the Feast of the Purification of the Virgin held on 2nd February. Medieval parishioners came to church with a penny and a candle to be blessed. Other candles were taken away to comfort the sick and dying or to give hope during thunderstorms. The Yule log gave the pagans a symbolic light to guide them through the harsh winter, while the Candlemas candle gave Christians solace in times of cold and hunger. The joining of these two traditions meant ordinary people could celebrate the birth of Christ and their own salvation, as well as enjoy themselves with the feasting and fun associated with pagan tradition.

But it wasn't fun for everyone. Childermass or Holy Innocents Day was on December 28th -- the day King Herod ordered the killing of all boys under the age of two in an attempt to kill Jesus. While nowadays we might expect youngsters to be playing with their new toys over the holiday season, in medieval times they were cowering in cupboards. That's because in medieval England, children were reminded of Herod's cruelty by being beaten. Many thought December 28th a day of bad luck. People were reluctant to get married on that day, or start building something and Edward IV refused to be crowned.

One example of the heady mix of Christian and pagan is the tradition of the Lord of Misrule. This was someone appointed at Christmas to be in charge of Christmas revelries, which often included drunkenness and wild parties in the tradition of Yule. Again, the church had an equivalent, called a boy bishop. This tradition seems to come from ancient Rome, from the feast of Saturnalia. During this time, the ordinary rules of life were turned upside down. Masters served their slaves, and offices of state were held by peasants. The Lord of Misrule presided over all of this and had the power to command anyone to do anything.

In the church, on January 1st's Feast of Fools, similar strangeness occurred. Priests wore masks at mass, sang lewd songs and ate sausages before the altar. It was a time of such wildness that lords often employed special guards to protect their property in case of rioting. Tenants of a manor belonging to London's St Paul's Cathedral were obliged to keep watch over the manor house, and were paid with a fire, a loaf of bread, a cooked dish and a gallon of ale -- a sumptuous Christmas dinner.

Food for Thought

But what was medieval Christmas actually like? It was certainly the longest holiday of the year, and brought with it cruelties as well as privileges. Poorer people were let off work for the festival, and sometimes were even treated to a Christmas dinner in their landlord's great hall.

If you were lucky, that is. Some manors dished out Christmas treats depending on status. One manor near Wells Cathedral in the south of England invited two 13th-century peasants -- one a large landholder and the other a small one. The first got a feast for himself and two friends, including beer, beef and bacon, chicken stew, cheese -- and even candles to light the feast with. The poorer peasant did not fare so well. He had to bring his own cup and plate. But at least he got to take home the leftovers, and he was even given a loaf of bread to share with his neighbours. This was used to play a traditional Christmas game. A bean was hidden in the loaf and the person who found it became king of the feast. This has turned into today's tradition of hiding pennies in Christmas puddings to symbolize coming riches -- even if a penny won't pay the dentistry bills for cracked teeth.

If you were higher on the social scale and were part of a knight's household, or even the royal one, you would be treated to a fabulous feast and gifts of jewels and robes. In 1482, the famously generous King Edward IV gave a spectacular Christmas gift to his people when he held a banquet that fed over two thousand people each day. Even then the pressures to give at Christmas were immense. Edward's brother, the notorious Richard III had to sell items from the Royal household, and used items from the treasury as pledges for loans in order to live up to his brother's reputation. With the money he made, Richard presented the city of London with a gold cup encrusted with jewels. He and his wife Anne spent a staggering 1200 pounds on new clothes and gifts for the court. He even licensed a merchant to bring jewels into England -- as long as he had first choice so he could give his wife impressive gifts.

But these weren't the only gifts given at Christmas. Famous medieval chronicler Matthew Paris records that in 1249 King Henry III got from London citizens 'the first gifts which the people are accustomed superstitiously to call New Year's gifts.' Portents of success for the coming year, these gifts are also related to the modern tradition of 'first footing', where the first person to set foot inside your house determined your family's fortunes for the year.

On Boxing Day, rich lords often gave their tenants a small gift, containing a moral lesson. The poor received money from their masters in hollow clay pots with a slit in the top. You had to break them to get the money out. Nicknamed 'piggies' these offerings were the earliest version of a piggy bank, although it is doubtful whether they encouraged much saving,

If you were lucky enough to be present at a noble Christmas banquet, you would have your fill of sumptuous starters and tasty treats. Medieval noblemen often had a boar's head as their main dish, served with rosemary and an apple or an orange in its mouth. In the countryside it was traditional to kill a wild boar, cutting off its head and offering it to the goddess of farming to ensure a good crop in the coming year. But if boar was elusive, you might have goose or venison. You might even be served with swan, smothered in butter and saffron -- with the King's permission, that is. (They are still royal property today.)

Less fancy tables would have to make do with whatever was left. Though not allowed to eat the best parts of the deer, a nobleman full of Christmas spirit might allow his poor tenants to have the leftovers. Known as 'umbles,' these parts were usually the heart, liver, tongue, feet, ears and brains. They were made into a pie. It's easy to see where our modern expression about having to 'eat humble pie' comes from. However, if you weren't into deer entrails, the church generously offered a fixed Christmas price of 7 pence for a ready cooked goose -- although that was about a day's wages.

Mince pies were also eaten at medieval tables. If you made a wish with your first bite people said it would come true. But don't refuse if someone offers you a pie, or you might suffer bad luck. Another big treat of the medieval table was Christmas pudding. Called 'frumenty' -- from the Latin for corn 'frumentum' -- it was made of thick porridge, wheat, currants and dried fruit. If available, eggs and spices like cinnamon and nutmeg were added.

To wash down all this rich food there were two fine festive tipples. Lambswool was a hot concoction of mulled beer with apples bobbing on the surface. There was also Church Ale, a strong brew reserved only for Christmas and sold in the churchyard or even in the church itself.

Christmas Carousing

The proximity of alcohol to the church coincides with one or two of the more lively Christmas traditions. Carols, such a staple part of today's Christmas diet, were prohibited in many European churches because they were considered lewd. They were often accompanied by dancing. The leader of the carol dance sang a verse of the carol, and a ring of dancers responded with the chorus. However, carol dances were suggestive of the fertility traditions of pagan song and dance cycles, and were thus considered too coarse for church.

A famous Christmas song of today is The Twelve Days of Christmas, where a list of presents given to the singer by their 'true love' is recounted. The gifts range from 'eleven lords a-leaping' to 'a partridge in a pear tree.' In medieval times this was a game set to music. One person sang a stanza, then another would add his own lines to the song after repeating the first person's verse. One tradition says it was a catechism memory song. It helped Catholics in post-restoration England remember facts about their faith at a time when practising it could get them killed.

Another popular form of Christmas entertainment was 'mumming'. Similar to modern English pantomimes, these were unceremonious plays without words which usually involved dressing up as a member of the opposite sex and performing comic tales. They took place throughout the twelve days of Christmas, and involved members of the troupe parading the streets and visiting houses for dancing and dicing.

Of course, Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without festive decoration. A description of twelfth century London says that "every man's house, as also their parish churches, was decked with holly, ivy, bay, and whatsoever the season of the year afforded to be green." Whilst our gaudy modern decorations would have confused a medieval person, they were still fond of a bit of greenery to brighten up the murk of winter. Christians believed that traditional Christmas plant, holly, had white berries that turned red when Christ was made to wear the crown of thorns. But holly was also important to the druids. So was mistletoe, under which we still forge romantic encounters today. Ivy, a plant associated with Bacchus, Roman god of wine and carousing, was forbidden by the church because of its immorality. (For more details, see The Holly and the Ivy, by Julia Hickey.)

The story of Christmas trees also has long roots. The oak was sacred to the druids and the Romans thought evergreens had special powers. But for both pagans and Christians, the fact that the fir tree kept its green needles throughout the ravages of winter was enough for it to earn a place as a symbol of life and renewal. This hope was vital whether you were celebrating the birth of Christ or just desperately looking forward to the first sign of spring. Even today we focus on them for Christmas merriment.

Oliver Cromwell and his Puritan government tried to ban the frivolities of Christmas and some of the more vernacular traditions which developed during medieval times. But he didn't succeed for long. Many of our modern traditions come from the early mingling of the Christian and the pagan worlds. Whilst the church secured Christmas as a truly religious Christian holiday, peasants quietly continued with the old ways. The result is the rich and eclectic mixture of old and new that characterizes Christmas today. What better way to encapsulate the spirit of Christmas than this fusion of different times, religions and peoples to make a festival that has earned its place as one of the favourites in our calendar.

Writer, teacher and psychologist, Jane Gilbert comes from Devon, England, and lives by the sea in Italy. After studying English Literature, she ran away to Brazil where she travelled extensively and cuddled sloths. She likes giraffes and curl reviver.

Friday, December 23, 2011

East Suffolk Morris Men

East Suffolk Morris Men: Border Morris: Bury St Edmunds Christmas Market

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Some thoughts on Snow in Western, NY

Today I read some complaints and rather grumpy comments on a Buffalo weather blog about snow in Western, NY. I was surprised how many of the posters were whining and crabbing about the climate in winter. This was my reply: I find snow makes me slow down and reflect and it makes me feel peaceful. It can cause me stress when taking care of my livestock and be difficult to deal with but so does extreme heat in summer cause me to become stressed. Snow is cleaning and restorative. Snow covers the mud and the depressing greys of a leafless world and gives it sparkle. Snow adds excitement and adventure and keeps us on our toes. Those who curse snow and fight with it perhaps should move someone else further south because raging against the climate is futile and bordering on the ridiculous. Snow and winter are as natural to this place as sunshine and open water in summer.

From a friend of mine....

A group of graduates, well established in their careers, were talking at a reunion and decided to go visit their old university professor, now retired. During their visit, the conversation turned to complaints about stress in their work and lives.

Offering his guests hot chocolate, the professor went into the kitchen and returned with a large pot of hot chocolate and an assortment of cups - porcelain, glass, crystal, some plain looking, some expensive, some exquisite - telling them to help themselves to the hot chocolate.

When they all had a cup of hot chocolate in hand, the professor said: "Notice that all the nice looking, expensive cups were taken, leaving behind the plain and cheap ones. While it is normal for you to want only the best for yourselves, that is the source of your problems and stress.

“The cup that you're drinking from adds nothing to the quality of the hot chocolate. In most cases it is just more expensive and in some cases even hides what we drink. What all of you really wanted was hot chocolate, not the cup; but you consciously went for the best cups ... and then you began eyeing each other's cups.

“Now consider this: Life is the hot chocolate; your job, money and position in society are the cups. They are just tools to hold and contain life,” said the professor. “The cup you have does not define, nor change the quality of life you have.
“Sometimes, by concentrating only on the cup, we fail to enjoy the hot chocolate God has provided us. God makes the hot chocolate, man chooses the cups. The happiest people don't have the best of everything. They just make the best of everything that they have.

Live simply. Love generously. Care deeply. Speak kindly.

And enjoy your hot chocolate.

My friend Gwen said this came from Roy Exum's column. Thanks for sharing it with me Gwen.

Loreena McKennitt - In praise of Christmas

In praise of Christmas
by Loreena McKennitt

All hail to the days that merit more praise
Than all of the rest of the year,
And welcome the nights that double delights
As well for the poor as the peer!
Good fortune attend each merry man's friend
That doth but the best that he may,
Forgetting old wrongs with carols and songs
To drive the cold winter away.

'Tis ill for a mind to anger inclined
To think of small injuries now,
If wrath be to seek, do not lend her thy cheek,
Nor let her inhabit thy brow.
Cross out thy books malevolent looks,
Both beauty and youth's decay,
And wholly consort with mirth and with sport
To drive the cold winter away.

This time of the year is spent in good cheer,
And neighbours together do meet,
To sit by the fire, with friendly desire,
Each other in love to greet.
Old grudges forgot are put in the pot,
All sorrows aside they lay;
The old and the young doth carol this song,
To drive the cold winter away.

When Christmas's tide comes in like a bride,
WIth holly and ivy clad,
Twelve days in the year much mirth and good cheer
In every household is had.
The country guise is then to devise
Some gambols of Christmas play,
Whereat the young men do best that they can
To drive the cold winter away.

Phil Thornton ~ Winter Solstice

Phil Thornton performs Winter Solstice

The winter solstice occurs exactly when the axial tilt of a planet's polar hemisphere is farthest away from the star that it orbits. Earth's maximum axial tilt to our star, the Sun, during a solstice is 23° 26'. More evident from high latitudes, a hemisphere's winter solstice occurs on the shortest day and longest night of the year, when the sun's daily maximum elevation in the sky is the lowest. Since the winter solstice lasts only a moment in time, other terms are often used for the day on which it occurs, such as midwinter, the longest night or the first day of winter.

The seasonal significance of the winter solstice is in the reversal of the gradual lengthening of nights and shortening of days. Depending on the shift of the calendar, the winter solstice usually occurs on December 21 to 23 each year in the Northern Hemisphere, and June 20 to 23 in the Southern Hemisphere.

Worldwide, interpretation of the event has varied from culture to culture, but most cultures have held a recognition of rebirth, involving holidays, festivals, gatherings, rituals or other celebrations around that time.

Of The Father's Love Begotten (Corde Natus Ex Parentis)

Of the Father's Love Begotten"
by Aurelius C. Prudentius, 413, cento
Translated by John. M. Neale, 1818-1866
and Henry W. Baker, 1821-1977

1. Of the Father's love begotten
Ere the worlds began to be,
He is Alpha and Omega,
He the Source, the Ending He,
Of the things that are, that have been,
And that future years shall see
Evermore and evermore.

2. Oh, that birth forever blessed
When the Virgin, full of grace,
By the Holy Ghost conceiving,
Bare the Savior of our race,
And the Babe, the world's Redeemer,
First revealed His sacred face
Evermore and evermore.

3. O ye heights of heaven, adore Him;
Angel hosts, His praises sing;
Powers, dominions, bow before Him
And extol our God and King.
Let no tongue on earth be silent,
Every voice in concert ring
Evermore and evermore.

4. This is He whom Heaven-taught singers
Sang of old with one accord;
Whom the Scriptures of the prophets
Promised in their faithful word.
Now He shines, the Long-expected;
Let creation praise its Lord
Evermore and evermore.

5. Christ, to Thee, with God the Father,
And, O Holy Ghost, to Thee
Hymn and chant and high thanksgiving
And unending praises be,
Honor, glory, and dominion,
And eternal victory
Evermore and evermore.

The Lutheran Hymnal
Hymn #98
Text: 1 Tim. 3:16
Author: Aurelius C. Prudentius, 413, cento
Translated by: John. M. Neale, 1854 and Henry W. Baker, 1861
Titled: "Corde natus ex Parentis"
Tune: "Divinum mysterium", Plain-song tune, 12th century

Loving the Advent Season so...

'Veni, Veni, Emanuel' by Mannheim Steamroller

'Veni, Veni, Emanuel' by Mannheim Steamroller

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

I love Christmas

Scholars tell us that Christmas as we know it today is a Victorian invention of the 1860s. It is probably the most celebrated holiday in the world, our modern Christmas is a product of hundreds of years of both secular and religious traditions from around the globe. Christmas has something for everyone and it does not need a name change! Christmas is so wonderful it has all these traditions woven together and always its about Joy and a celebration of life and love. Fighting about Christmas makes me very, very sad. Those who make war in the media about it are a disgrace. In Scandinavia it has always remained Yule or jul which goes back to the ancient celebration of the the winter solstice. No one has the right to mess with Christmas and try to rebrand it! It belongs to the world. In a world that is so full of discord Christmas and its message of peace and joy is a splendid thing indeed. For me the holiday centers on the birth of Jesus my light and guide. I do however take joy in the secular traditions and its earthy pagan roots as well. The cycles of the earth and the winter solstice are an important part of the tradition of Christmas. Let us all keep Christmas in our own way and remember the light and the message of peace on earth?

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Happy Chanukah 2011

Happy Chanukah! Chanukah starts on the Hebrew calendar date of 25 Kislev, and lasts for eight days. In 2011: December 20-28

Monday, December 19, 2011

Celtic Woman sing The Wexford Carol

The Wexford Carol - History

The Wexford Carol is a beloved traditional Irish Christmas carol. It is also known as "The Enniscorthy Carol", as it was originally collected by a folklorist named Grattan Flood in Enniscorthy, a town in Ireland's County Wexford, as well as "Carul Loch Garman" (the Irish translation of "Wexford Carol"). The lyrics, which are in English, date back to the 12th century. As is the case with all very old songs, the history is a bit hard to track, but it appears that the lyrics were added to the tune much later, and it is not believed that the lyrics were originally in the Irish language. Some reverse translations have been made by contemporary Irish trad musicians, but the English lyrics are actually the most traditional ones.

The Wexford Carol - Lyrics

Good people all, this Christmas time,
Consider well and bear in mind
What our good God for us has done
In sending his beloved son
With Mary holy we should pray,
To God with love this Christmas Day
In Bethlehem upon that morn,
There was a blessed Messiah born

The night before that happy tide
The noble Virgin and her guide
Were long time seeking up and down
To find a lodging in the town
But mark right well what came to pass
From every door repelled, alas

Sunday, December 18, 2011

4th Sunday in Advent

The welfare of the country

"Children and dogs are as necessary to the welfare of the country as Wall Street and the railroads." - Harry Truman

Thursday, December 15, 2011

John Gorka , I Heard the Bells

John Gorka (born 1958) is a contemporary American folk musician. In 1991, Rolling Stone magazine called him "the preeminent male singer-songwriter of what has been dubbed the New Folk Movement."

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882)

Christmas Bells

I HEARD the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along
The unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Till ringing, singing on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime,
A chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Then from each black, accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,
And with the sound
The carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

It was as if an earthquake rent
The hearth-stones of a continent,
And made forlorn
The households born
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And in despair I bowed my head;
"There is no peace on earth," I said;
"For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!"

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
"God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men."

Written during the American Civil war, the above poem can be found in:
Longfellow, Henry Wadsworth. The Complete Poetical Works of Longfellow. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1893.
Stevenson, Burton Egbert , ed. The Home Book of Verse for Young Folks. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1915

This makes me wish I was there!

Trad music session from Railway Tavern, Camp, Co. Kerry, Ireland

It won't stop raining!

Rain, rain go away or else just turn to snow, the mud is so deep my donkey is drown and only his ears still show.

Jingle Bells on a Player Piano

James Pierpont - 1857: Jingle Bells is a song that we evidently were born knowing. Who hasn't heard a three-year old, or even a two-year old child attempt this simplistic tune at Christmas. In all truth, it is neither inherently a Christmas song, nor is the current popularized version quite like the original composition. James Pierpont was one of six children of the well known poet John Pierpont, and uncle of the well known fortune builder J. P. (James Pierpont) Morgan. During the Civil War he defied his abolitionist father's wishes and promoted the Confederate cause with anti-Yankee tunes. But that was later. Jingle Bells was allegedly composed as early as 1850. It was first published by Boston publisher Oliver Ditson in 1857 as The One Horse Open Sleigh. In the following two years it gained such popularity that it was reprinted with identical plates and a new cover sporting the title that the public had chosen for it, Jingle Bells. Not only did American music consumers and performers quickly adopt this song, but they collectively made editorial changes to the melody in the chorus, leaving the verse more or less intact. By 1900, the familiar melody we know today was well established. Bill Edwards has a recording of a cylinder made in 1902 featuring the Hayden Quartet singing the altered melody that reinforces this fact. In the performance here, Bill Edwards plays the original melody through the verse and chorus, then repeat the chorus with the original printed accompaniment. The second verse would be closer to what the public performed through the 1870's. By the third verse he's abandoned the original chorus for the popularized one, and the fourth time through he incorporates some ragtime into the mix. You may also want to take a look at the lyrics, some of which are slightly different than what we know today. For a simple tune, you've got to admit it has endured very well for a century and a half.

Jingle Bells, or the One Horse Open Sleigh
Words and Music by James Pierpont
Verse 1: Dashing thro' the snow, In a one horse open sleigh,
O'er the hills we go, Laughing all the way;
Bells on bobtail ring, Making spirits bright,
Oh what sport to ride and sing a sleighing song tonight.

Chorus: Jingle bells, Jingle bells, Jingle all the way;
Oh! What joy it is to ride in a one horse open sleigh.
Jingle bells, Jingle bells, Jingle all the way;
Oh! What joy it is to ride in a one horse open sleigh.

Piano Chorus

Verse 2: A day or two ago, I though I'd take a ride,
And soon Miss Fannie Bright was seated by my side,
The horse was lean and lank; Misfortune seemed his lot,
He got into a drifted bank, And we, we got upsot.

Chorus: Jingle bells, Jingle bells, Jingle all the way;
Oh! What joy it is to ride in a one horse open sleigh.
Jingle bells, Jingle bells, Jingle all the way;
Oh! What joy it is to ride in a one horse open sleigh.

Verse 3: A day or two ago, The story I must tell,
I went out on the snow, And on my back I fell;
A gent was riding by, In a one horse open sleigh,
He laughed as there I sprawling lie [sic], But quickly drove away.

Chorus: Jingle bells, Jingle bells, Jingle all the way;
Oh! What fun it is to ride in a one horse open sleigh.
Jingle bells, Jingle bells, Jingle all the way;
Oh! What fun it is to ride in a one horse open sleigh.

Verse 4: Now the ground is white, Go it while you're young,
Take the girls tonight, And sing this sleighing song;
Just get a bob-tailed bay, Two forty as his speed.
Hitch him to an open sleigh, And crack, you'll take the lead.

Chorus: Jingle bells, Jingle bells, Jingle all the way;
Oh! What fun it is to ride in a one horse open sleigh.
Jingle bells, Jingle bells, Jingle all the way;
Oh! What fun it is to ride in a one horse open sleigh.

Performed by Bill Edwards

Information obtained from

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Not much snow this December

Just a few small snow falls and then thaws so far this season. November was above average for temperatures and December thus far has been very mild as well. The days warm up and melt allot of the snow even when the clear nights freeze the earth again, the snow can't hold in 50F afternoon sun.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Thursday, December 8, 2011

William Dutton sings This Is The Truth Sent From Above.

The Herefordshire Christmas Carol

This is the truth sent from above,
The truth of God, the God of love:
Therefore don’t turn me from your door,
But hearken all, both rich and poor.

The first thing which I do relate
Is that God did man create,
The next thing which to you I’ll tell,
Woman was made with man to dwell.

Then, after this, ’twas God’s own choice
To place them both in Paradise,
There to remain, from evil free,
Except they ate of such a tree.

But they did eat, which was a sin,
And thus their ruin did begin.
Ruined themselves, both you and me,
And all of their posterity.

Thus we were heirs to endless woes,
Till God the Lord did interpose,
And so a promise soon did run,
That he would redeem us by his Son.

And at this season of the year
Our blest Redeemer did appear,
And here did live, and here did preach,
and many thousands he did teach.

Thus he in love to us behaved,
To show us how we must be saved;
And if you want to know the way,
Be pleased to hear what he did say:

"Go preach the Gospel," now he said,
"To all the nations that are made!
And he that does believe on me,
From all his sins I'll set him free."

O seek! O seek of God above
That saving faith that works by love!
And, if he's pleased to grant thee this,
Thou'rt sure to have eternal bliss.

God grant to all within this place
True saving faith, that special grace
Which to his people doth belong:
And thus I close my Christmas song.

Taken from English Folk-Carols by Cecil J. Sharp The Herefordshire Christmas Carol, This is the Truth Sent from Above, was one of several folk tunes preserved and popularized by Ralph Vaughan-Williams. In 1909, he transcribed it from Ella Leather, a collector of Herefordshire folk music, who had herself recieved it from a Mr W Jenkins, a folk singer from Kings Pyon.

The text recalls the fall from grace of Adam, and the promise of redemption by Jesus.

An Earthly Tree by William Byrd

An Earthly Tree : The Choir of Magdalen College Chapel, Oxford

An Earthly Tree by William Byrd

An earthly tree a heavenly fruit it bear,
A case of clay contained a crown immortal
A crown of crowns, a King whose cost and care
Redeemed poor man, whose race before was thrall
To death, to doom, to pains of everlasting,
By His sweet death, scorns, stripes, and often fasting.

A star above the stars, a sun of light,
Whose blessed beams this wretched earth bespread
With hope of heaven and of God's Son the sight,
Which in our flesh and sinful soul lay dead.
O faith, O hope, O joys renowned for ever,
O lively life that deathless shall persever.

Then let us sing the lullabys of sleep
To this sweet babe, born to awake us all
From drowsy sin that made old Adam weep,
And by his fault gave to mankind the fall.
For lo! this day, the birth day, day of days,

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

December 6th is Saint Nicholas Day

St.Nicholas was born a Greek in Asia Minor during the third century in the Greek city of Patara which was a port on the Mediterranean Sea and lived in Myra, Lycia (part of modern-day Demre Turkey), at a time when the region was Greek in its heritage, culture and outlook and was part of the Roman province of Asia. He was the only son of wealthy Christian parents named Epiphanius (Ἐπιφάνιος) and Johanna (Ἰωάννα) according to some accounts and Theophanes (Θεοφάνης) and Nonna (Νόννα) according to others. He was very religious from an early age and according to legend, Nicholas was said to have rigorously observed the canonical fasts of Wednesdays and Fridays. His wealthy parents died in an epidemic while Nicholas was still young and he was raised by his uncle—also named Nicholas—who was the bishop of Patara. He tonsured the young Nicholas as a reader, and later as presbyter (priest). Nicholas also spent a period at a monastery named Holy Sion, which had been founded by his uncle.

He had a reputation for secret gift-giving, such as putting coins in the shoes of those who left them out for him, and thus became the model for Santa Claus, whose modern name comes from the Dutch Sinterklaas, itself from a series of elisions and corruptions of the transliteration of "Saint Nikolaos". His reputation evolved among the faithful, as was common for early Christian saints. In 1087, his relics were furtively translated to Bari, in southeastern Italy; for this reason, he is also known as Nikolaos of Bari. His feastday is 6 December [O.S. 19 December].

Monday, December 5, 2011

Decorating for Christmas on Sunday.

I did a little outside decorating for Christmas on Sunday.

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