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A Garland Of Carols

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An Albion Christmas
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A Garland Of Carols
All The Year Round
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The Pickwick Papers. Chapter XXVIII
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Once In Birmingham City
Edith Holden's Nature Notes
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Christmas is Now Drawing Near

Coope, Boyes, Simpson, Boyes, Fraser and Freya

Regional and historical carols from across England

Coop, Boyes and Simpson. Fi Fraser,
Jo Freya and Georgina Boyes

"...each village had its own store of Carols, and nothing would induce one village to appropriate the Carols of another; thus it will be seen how great the number of these compositions must have been, and still may be....

In those of the Carols which I examined after writing them down, I found the harmonization to be wonderfully correct from the present standpoint.

Unless modern civilization has spoiled these happy hunting grounds for the musical antiquary, there should still remain a vast amount of unexplored territory which it would even now repay him well to visit."

English County Songs, 1892.

Carols have a dramatic history - alternately promoted and banned by authorities of all kinds, their texts and music were often a target for high minded reformers. But despite every effort to discourage their performance, carols have also been consistently popular - loved for their humanity, resonance and the sheer enjoyment of singing them.

From their medieval beginnings until recently, carols existed simply as texts and were sung to any tune that fitted their words. Even today, in many parts of Yorkshire and Derbyshire, While Shepherds Watched is rarely heard to the nationally known tune Winchester Old, instead it occurs in dozens of different versions - including highly ornate settings like Pentonville and Lyngham.

This Garland of Carols takes its name from the sheets of words that local printers produced for Christmas in the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. It reflects the glorious profusion of words and tunes associated with carols from across England and the tradition of singing them in back kitchens, streets and pubs with enthusiasm and affection.

The music included in A Garland of Carols draws directly on Coope Boyes and Simpsons personal traditions - Jim and Barry grew up hearing and singing the elaborate harmonised versions of hymns and carols found in The Three Harks and While Shepherds in their families as well as in chapel choirs. Whilst Lester was a chorister in Derby Cathedral, singing the carols of the Anglican repertoire much of which was collected and developed by the composer Ralph Vaughan Williams.

From the sleeve notes

A Garland of Carols 1998 [click for larger image]
No Masters NMCD13 1998

1. Shepherds Arise
2. Down in Yon Forest
3. The Coventry Carol
4. As I Sat On a Sunny Bank
5. While Shepherds Watched [Lyngham]
6. Nowell and Nowell
7. In Bethlehem City
8. Christmas is Now Drawing Near at Hand
9. The Carnal and the Crane
10. Here We Come A-Wassailing
11. The Three Harks
12. The Moon Shines Bright
13. Boars Head Carol
14. The Dunstan Lullaby
15. While Shepherds Watched [Pentonville]

Georgina Boyes

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