Saturday, December 20, 2008

A Midwinter Carol

In the mid 80's when I lived in Phoenix, I happened to buy a Christmas album featuring several Arizona folk musicians. One of the tracks was an Appalachian dulcimer rendition of Planxty Irwin by Turlough O'Carolan (1670 - 1738), the blind harper who composed some of Ireland's most beautiful music. Planxty Irwin is not a seasonal piece; it is simply a harp tune, most likely dedicated to Colonel John Irwin, a contemporary of O'Carolan's. But the tune fit wonderfully with the rest of the music (all of which is in a box of cassettes somewhere in a closet). It percolated in my head for about ten years, then I put words to it. Perhaps it was because I was teaching comparative religions at the time, but I wanted to create a holiday song that touched as many traditions as possible. In going over the words, I find it still doesn't go as far as I would have liked.

Anyway, I thought I'd share it with you. Here is the tune: Planxty Irwin. And here are the words.

Now the year draws to its ending;
Now our harvest is gathered in.
Now, together, we meet, intending
To share our joy as the new comes in.

Here among our friends and neighbors,
We shall laugh and dance and sing,
And share the fruit of all our labors:
The wealth that Nature and God do bring.

Hail the feast! Hail the company!
Hail to Nature and God above!
Hail, Midwinter, we come together
To share our joy and peace and love.

One house now holds eight bright lights,
While in its neighbor there stands a tree.
The third hears songs into the night;
The joy of family warms all three

Families large with loved ones numberless;
Families small with only two;
It matters not: God one and all shall bless.
Bless the multitude, bless the few.

Bless our home! Bless our family,
In whatever form it may take.
Hail, Midwinter, we come together
To praise God for our family's sake.

Solstice brings the world together,
All humanity, hand in hand.
In the warm or freezing weather,
We of Earth must together stand.

Jew and Muslim, Catholic, Protestant -
All believers the words fulfill:
Peace on Earth to all is God's intent -
Peace on Earth to all of Good Will.

Peace on Earth, the Peace of Nature,
For God and Nature are one and the same.
Hail Midwinter, we come together,
And God is God whatever the name.

Peace and Joy be with you all.


Shauna said...

Hello Jill,
I am not for the Christmas spirit this year with all that has happen to me but I hope everyone there enjoys it just the same. Merry Christmas to you and your family.

Love ya much

Abby said...

When do we get to hear the live version, Jill? I'm sure it would be a blessing to us all, as are your words and your presence in this world.

Blessed be,