Singing In The Light
There is something very evocative about listening to a church choir whilst standing in a dark churchyard with the moon above amongst wispy clouds. The comfort of the voices in the velvet night as they sing in harmony together. The light through stained glass windows inviting you in out of the cold.
Churches have long been used as community spaces in which to sing and worship. The first church built in England dates to the 6th century but the first recorded song is attributed secular origins.
It was recorded in the 13th century and is called ‘Sumer is icumen in’ or Summer has come in. It celebrates the life that summer has brought with it, the first cuckoo, the lambs in the field and it even, amusingly, mentions a farting goat - a singing in of the season.
We sing in the season in winter too, with Yuletide and Christmas carols, and in this way we sing back the light into the world in the darkest days of winter.
There is a strong link between singing and storytelling and in fact many bards would have been expected to be able to do both. The ballad is a particular type of storytelling, which many would have indulged in.
At some of my shows I like to try and get people singing if I can and in the roundhouse at Butser Ancient Farm, with everyone joining in with the chorus, the sound is glorious. Singing draws people together and creates community.
One of my favourite ‘carols’ is In The Bleak Midwinter, which is in fact originally a poem by Christina Rossetti. It appeared in 1872 in Scribner’s Monthly. It was Gustav Holt that set the poem to music.
This wintertide I hope you will gather together to sing, whether it be in your kitchen, with your local choir or at midnight mass on Christmas Eve, sing in the light.
Cerridwen’s Cauldron is a community and I would love you to be a part of that community and share your thoughts on the folklore of the Downs and what folklore is unique to your area. Join the conversation in the comments below.
Yuletide Tales - 4th December - Tales around the campfire at Elfwoods Forest School
A Christmas Carol - 17th December - Winchester Museum - Family Friendly version of the Dickens classic
Kings Of The Winter Woodland - 19th December - Butser Ancient Farm
November’s Paid Subscription Content:
Islands Of Smoke & Mist - Essay (Folklore and Stories Of Hidden Islands)
Fiery Ginger - Kitchen Witching (Food Folklore)
Beetle - Symphony Of Animals (Spoken Word Poetry)
Stir It Up Sunday - Kitchen Witching (Folklore of The Christmas Cake)
Heartwood - Notes From The Downs - (Folklore & Stories)
Coming Soon For December:
Folklore & Stories - Terrifying Yuletide
Behind The Scenes - Sunrise - One View Two Stories
Celebration Sheet- Yule
What News The Heron Brings - Notes From The Downs
Supporting my work in this way allows me to continue to write freely and authentically and I thank you from the bottom of my story telling heart.
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December's Recommended Read:
I am very much enjoying this book of English Folktales. A repress of an old edition updated with a new forward by Neil Gaiman. Review coming soon
I’ve got a whole playlist for you this month to help you sing in the light!