Introduced by Judy Cook

Our song for this month is Dave Goulder’s “January Man.” It’s a song of fine images, insight into human nature, and just a hint of mysticism. We’re invited to contemplate the ever-circling years and our place in them. Dave wants to be sure folks sing the lyrics as he wrote them, and I know I’m not alone in wanting to hear this song sung more; this should help.

Here are the lyrics, the musical notation, and a bit of information about Dave Goulder. I love Ed Trickett’s singing of this song: simple, unaccompanied, very accessible. You’ll find a YouTube video (audio only) embedded below:

january man tune notationLyrics

The January man he walks abroad
In woollen coat and boots of leather
The February man still shakes the snow
From off his hair and blows his hands
The man of March he sees the Spring and
Wonders what the year will bring
And hopes for better weather

Through April rains the man goes down
To watch the birds come in to share the summer
The man of May stands very still
Watching the children dance away the day
In June the man inside the man is young
And wants to lend a hand
And grins at each new comer

And in July the man in cotton shirt
He sits and thinks on being idle
The August man in thousands takes the road
To watch the sea and find the sun
September man is standing near
To saddle up and lead the year
And Autumn is his bridle

The man of new October takes the reins
And early frost is on his shoulder
The poor November man sees fire and wind
And mist and rain and Winter air
December man looks through the snow
To let eleven brothers know
They’re all a little older

And the January man comes round again
In woollen coat and boots of leather
To take another turn and walk along
The icy road he knows so well
The January man is here for
Starting each and every year
Along the way forever

Dave Goulder was born in 1939 of a Derbyshire farming family — a railway footplate man, mountaineer, motorcyclist, classical music enthusiast, Spanish guitar player, mouth harp virtuoso, songwriter, poet, singer, hedge layer, junk sculptor, naturalist, community arts administrator, drystone walling Master Craftsman/instructor, ceilidh band member, failed mandolin player, and arthritic. He lives in Scotland.

Judy Cook is an author, entertainer, and folk-singer. She has been living in Oberlin, Ohio, with her husband Dennis since 2013. 2017 will be her 20th year touring throughout both Britain and the US. She is known for her repertoire and storytelling ability in ballad form. Judy has one book and several CDs. You can reach her through her web page.

Introduced by Lorraine Hammond

Our celebration of this “CDSS Year of Song” has kept us singing, and our “Song of the Month” has been a meaningful part of that celebration — a great new CDSS resource for songs. They are archived here, and ready for you to add to your own repertoire, each one chosen by a singer who treasures the choice they offered.

We began our “Song of the Month” year with Brendan Taaffe’s elegant “May It Fill Your Soul,” and we’ll close out the calendar with a round that speaks to the heart of this season, “Lamb and Lion.” It is a round in four parts that I wrote one wintry season as a holiday gift to tuck into the cards I was sending. It has found its way into the new Rise Again song compilation by Annie Patterson and Peter Blood, and Sol Weber’s Rounds Galore.

The audio below is from a recording by the wonderful songwriter and entertainer, Christine Lavin (with the Mistletones). Songs have an uncanny way of staying in circulation!

Lamb and Lion tune notation
Download a PDF of the notation

Lorraine Lee Hammond is a member of the CDSS board, a humanities lecturer at Lasell College in Newton, MA, and Music Director of WUMB-fm acoustic music week and weekend programs. She performs and records with her husband, guitarist Bennett Hammond.

Introduced by Katy German

One of my favorite things about the folk process is the way a song can reemerge in different forms over time. Whether accidental or intentional, changing some portion of melody or words can suddenly give a song new life and depth.

This song is a beautiful example. The melody is a simple and beautiful 19th century hymn, with alternative words from Eastern Kentucky singer and storyteller Randy Wilson. Randy kept the melody and some of the poetry from the traditional version, but mixed in phrases and language to give it a more universal spiritual appeal.

I first heard Randy sing his version of Farther On about a decade ago at Hindman Settlement School in Hindman, KY. At the time I thought it was a clever rewording and recognized its appeal as a soulful yet easy group singing option.

What I have found since then, though, is that this is the song that rises to my mind every single time I am feeling discouraged or low on hope. It is a meditation for my soul when I am feeling derailed. I asked Randy what inspired this version and he replied, “I liked the chorus and wanted to make a spiritual out of it, with repetition so that folks could join in easily.”

I guess sometimes it’s just as simple as that. Here is one of the traditional arrangements, along with Randy’s alternative lyrics. I’ve included both versions so that the readers and singers can enjoy it in more than one incarnation. And Randy, thank you for this beautiful song.

Farther On tune notation
Click for a larger image

Music: Traditional (not the first image)
New words: Randy Wilson, a musician, songwriter, and storyteller from Eastern, KY

Lyrics

Oh dear brothers, are you weary with the roughness of the way?
Search your soul and plant a seedling. Stir the ashes, seize the day.
Farther on, still go farther. Count the milestones one by one.
There’s a light that leads us onward. It is better farther on.

(Repeat, replacing “brothers” with sisters, mothers, fathers, children, etc.)

Here’s a version of the song by the Alaska String Band:

Katy German is a CDSS Board member living in Asheville, NC. She loves community singing and introducing children, families, and first-timers to country dance traditions.

Introduced by Lorraine Hammond, with Jon Pickow

October’s song will be a spooky one! I learned this long ago from Jean Ritchie, of Viper, Kentucky. I have sung it for hundreds of children, delighting as they jump, startle, and then collapse with laughter and relief. And grown-ups are not exempt either! Perfect Hallowe’en musical fare.

Skin and Bones has a venerable British Isles legacy. The Roud index at the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library lists more than sixty sources. One early print source is “Halliwell, Nursery Rhymes of England (3rd edn. 1843) pp.85-86, There Was A Lady All Skin and Bone.”

I asked Jean Ritchie’s son Jon Pickow about his childhood memories of the song, and he offered the following great anecdotes:

“The first time I remember hearing Skin and Bones was when mom sang it at a children’s concert at our local library here in Port Washington. I was very young, and reacted just like all the other kids: scream first, then laugh hysterically. I loved watching her sing it for new audiences and seeing their reactions, although I always jumped at the end, even though I knew what was coming.

Skin and Bones tune notation
Click here for a downloadable PDF

“Mom always warned sound men and engineers after singing it on the radio once and seeing the engineer jump up and throw the headphones across the room.

“Several generations have learned it from the singing of Raffi. Even though more people knew the surprise, audiences were still delighted to hear mom sing it.”

You can hear Jean Ritchie singing this, with her lovely dulcimer accompaniment, in the YouTube video on this page.

Lorraine Lee Hammond is a member of the CDSS board, and a humanities lecturer at Lasell College in Newton, Massachusetts.

Introduced by Sasha Hsuczyk

Interest in singing from the American “Sacred Harp” tradition has grown stronger in recent years, an awareness that is reflected in our selection for this month’s Song of the Month.

The Sacred Harp is an American collection of hymns that has been continuously in print since it was first published in Georgia in 1844. Families of singers in many parts of the South have been singing from the book for generations, and today the Sacred Harp is enjoyed and used all over the U.S. as well as abroad. Part of what I think makes the book appealing to people from such a wide range of places and backgrounds are the universal messages that many of the songs express. As individual people we may lead very different daily lives, but as humans, collectively, we share a lot of the same emotions as we face the various trials of life. I find that singing from the Sacred Harp can offer a great deal of comfort, as well as a chance to empathize with others through song.

Canaan's Land tune notation
Click here for a downloadable PDF with notation and lyrics.

For September, I chose a popular favorite from the Sacred Harp that helps to inspire me — Canaan’s Land. For those who have a copy of the book it can be found at the top of page 101. The tune is rather interesting in that it is one of only a few songs in the Sacred Harp that uses just four notes in the melody. The words can be found going back as early as 1822 in a words-only hymnal called Social and Campmeeting Songs for the Pious, and was printed in several later hymnals, as well. It was no doubt a popular piece of poetry.

It’s not certain, but this song was likely composed by E.J. King, one of two compilers of the first edition of the Sacred Harp. He is described as “a farmer and singing teacher with ‘bright prospects as a musician'” in David Warren Steel’s book, The Markers of the Sacred Harp. Unfortunately, he passed away at the young age of 23, just after the Sacred Harp was published.

The words in the second half of the song look to the Eternal Spirit to give the singer guidance to “steer thro’ [sic] life’s tempestuous sea, where stormy winds do blow.” We can look for the same comfort in raising our voices in song with friends; try these harmonies with some of your favorite singing pals!

Sasha Hsuczyk was born and raised in Los Angeles, CA. Her first few years of college were spent in Ireland attending the University of Limerick’s undergraduate program in traditional Irish music, where she studied the fiddle. It was there in the traditional music section of the library that she discovered a copy of the Sacred Harp. She completed her undergraduate degree in Western Massachusetts at Hampshire College, earning a certificate in ethnomusicology. She has traveled all over the east coast to sing from the Sacred Harp, with several pilgrimages to Alabama and Georgia. Sasha currently resides in Pennsylvania, where she works as a vegetable farmer and musician, splitting her time between rural Berks County and Philadelphia. Thanks to Aldo Ceresa, Rachel Hall, Alex Forsyth, and Emma Swartz for their support!

Introduced by Sarah Jane Nelson

It was a challenge to pick one song (just one?) from the Max Hunter Folksong Collection, but “Farmer’s Daughter” swiftly made its way to the top of the pile. Harrison Burnett, who sang this song for Max in 1959 and in 1961, had the great fortune to be a “singing watchman” at the University of Arkansas where folklorist Mary C. Parler taught classes. Parler and her husband, Vance Randolph, were lifelong mentors to Max and often shared tapes and “informants” with him. Max visited Harrison at least twice, and got 16 songs from him. See The Max Hunter Folk Song Collection at Missouri State University.

Listen to “Farmer’s Daughter,” as sung by Harrison Burnett, Fayetteville, Arkansas on June 15, 1959. (Source: Max Hunter Folk Song Collection, Missouri State University)

Farmer's Daughter notation
Click here for a PDF with both notation and lyrics.
Source: Max Hunter Folk Song Collection, Missouri State University

Checking the Ozark Folksong Collection at the University of Arkansas, I see that Parler got there first, having collected this same song under the title “I’m Gonna Get Married A-Sunday” back in 1955. It was clearly a favorite of Harrison’s, who sang it with an authority in which he gives equal weight to both the old man’s cautionary message and the young-girl-in-a-hurry. There is such a visceral quality to this song — I can just feel the sun on my back as I “walk down in town” and I can smell the [implied] scent of lavender on the “bonnet and shawl” as they “lie on the shelf.” And then there’s the buoyancy of the melody itself which will put you on a cloud as you sing.

And while this piece could be tossed off as a “quaint little ditty” about a young girl’s naïve obsession with ribbons and bows, Harrison’s manly, sonorous voice (note the bass clef transcription!) delivers it on a much deeper level; it’s really about love and sex, hindsight and foresight, wisdom and impulsivity —a ll the things that make the world spin. There is a timeless universality in the dialogue between these two people, and they reside in every one of us.

According to writer Ted Anthony, Max had this to say about Burnett: “I believe Harrison is one of the finest singers I have ever visited and collected from.” I would encourage readers not only to listen to the Hunter recording, but to get a hold of Mark Bilyeu and Cindy Woolf’s recording Wolf Hunter, a magnificent album which gives this song (along with many others) new life.

Musician and writer Sarah Jane Nelson is still at work on her biography of Ozark song collector Max Hunter. You can learn more about her project by going to her campaign site.

(a.k.a. The Ladies Drinking Song)

Introduced by Hannah Shira Naiman

July’s song of the month is to be served with a slice of lime.

Ladies Rejoice (or The Ladies Drinking Song) was written over a hot summer weekend in Northern Ontario as Emily Adam and I nursed frozen cocktails by the lake. Emily and I were dancing on Toronto Women’s Sword (TWS) at the time, and, as I recall, although the two of us had a decent repertoire of songs, we found that we didn’t feel comfortable contributing during rowdy morris ale sings. All of the songs that we knew felt inappropriate―they were mostly about tragedy and love, and none of them rowdy.

But as we searched for a peppy drinking song within the existing repertoire, Emily pointed out a lack of songs from the woman’s perspective. True there are a few drinking songs with female narrators―but we didn’t want to talk about love and marriage or sailing on the ocean, as many other drinking songs with female narrators did. We wanted to sing simply about the joy of drinking. And also dressing up―two things, I dare say, TWS does very well besides dancing! The team has since taken to singing this song as something akin to their anthem.

Ladies Drinking Song notation
Click here for a link to a PDF of the notation

I am happy to share with you a song for summer refreshment and indulgence. I invite you all sing it as well! Ladies―and gentlemen too―raise your glasses! Cheers!

Here’s a YouTube video of Hannah and friends singing Ladies Rejoice. The videographer was Christopher Blow.

Hannah Shira Naiman (Toronto, ON) grew up just north of Toronto―a few thousand miles away from the hills of Appalachia, and yet her family home was always full of the sounds from that land. Raised by a banjo plucking Pa, and a children’s musician/dance caller/fiddling Ma, her home was a hub for American roots music in the cold heart of a Canadian metropolis.

Hannah is a songwriter and a traditional dance and music leader. She released her first album of original songs in 2013 (Tether My Heart, Merriweather Records Ltd.), and since then has been actively touring throughout North America. She is a founding member and regular caller at Toronto’s first regular American oldtime square dance, The Hogtown Hoedown, and also calls contra dances and family dances regularly. Hannah’s day job is in early childhood music, where she specializes in French playparty games for primary grades. This fall, Hannah will release her second album, Know the Mountain.

Introduced by Chris Koldeway

“The Press Gang (On Board A Man of War)” (Roud 662) is a song from the days when the British crown felt it could, in times of war, “press” into service anyone whom they deemed fit. (Or fit enough.) Gangs of Navy officers and Seamen would, in times of war, scour the English seaside towns, and gather up as many men as they needed. In some cases, this was done by “the book,” and other times, by less scrupulous methods. In fact, the impressment of American sailors was one of the issues that helped us to enter into the War of 1812. The Mainly Norfolk website, which is a great resource for British traditional music, quotes A.L. (Bert) Lloyd about this song:

“Rarer than a good song should be, this one. Sharp heard it, or three verses of it, in a Herefordshire workhouse (the workhouse was a great place to find singers in his day). Jack Moeran noted a fuller version at Winterton, Norfolk, and that’s the one Mike bases his performance on. Moeran’s singer was James Sutton, nicknamed “Old Larpin”, from whom the great Sam Larner learnt a boatload of songs.”

There are many wonderful versions of this song including those by Ewan MacColl, and Mike Waterson, but I first heard it from the magnificent singing of the late Roy Harris, singer of traditional songs, promoter of folk, supporter of budding singers, and life-long supporter of Nottingham Forest FC.

Sheet music for The Press Gang
Click the image for a link to a PDF of the notation

Roy sang this at the Lancaster Maritime Festival in the U.K., when my wife Joy Bennett and I were there, and I knew I needed to learn this song. I tracked Roy down, asked for the words, and with his genuine, welcoming grin took out a piece of paper and wrote down the words.

I noticed that the paper on which he was writing had some typed words, and some hand-written notation to “Shallow Brown,” a lovely sea chantey, and asked whether he might still need it. Roy casually mentioned that it was something “Bert” (A.L. Lloyd) had given him, and he knew the song now, so, “no,” he didn’t need it anymore.

The words—the ones that Roy wrote out, and what I know is on the back—now hang in a place of honor and remembrance in my studio at home. I look at them almost daily, and remember one of the kindest souls I’ve ever met. The last time Roy and I spoke, we were in Wales, and I gave Roy a call. He thanked me for putting the song on my CD, and was delighted that I had kept in “his” verse: “These Navy officers…”. I asked, “your verse?” “Oh, yes, that one was mine.”

Roy has now passed on to what is fast becoming an astounding “session” in the next world. I know that I, and many others, will miss him terribly here, but consider myself blessed for many gifts he left behind. Thank you, Roy.

Here’s Chris singing The Press Gang, from his CD Called Away:

Chris Koldewey, a public school music teacher by trade, has been singing folk music and sea music in particular since his early teens. He comes from a family rich in maritime traditions, and from an early age was exposed to a wide variety of folk music during his formative years on Long Island. He has played concerts and festivals in both the U.S. and the U.K., and has led workshops dealing with a variety of traditional music forms, and accompanies himself on a variety of instruments.

Chris has had a long association with the Chanteymen at Mystic Seaport Museum in Connecticut. Two of his greatest experiences were to Chantey up the anchor on board the Barque Picton Castle during his three-week stint on board her during the summer of 2009, and to sail and Chantey on board of the historic Charles W. Morgan—the only wooden whaler left in the world—in the summer of 2014.

Introduced by Kim Wallach

We dance in the month of May with Morris and Maypole, so it is fitting that the song of the month be about Morris dancing. Dancing at Whitsun, written by Austin John Marshall to the tune of “The Week Before Easter” or “the False Bride” was first published in 1968 in Karl Dallas’ book, The Cruel Wars, and first recorded by Shirley Collins in 1969 as part of the Anthems in Eden Suite.

Whitsun is the seventh Sunday after Easter, and is short for “White Sunday.” It marked the beginning of a week’s holiday for medieval villeins (feudal tenants) from service on the lord’s demesne. This made it a good occasion for celebration, including fairs, Morris dancing, parades, with choirs and brass bands, and girls dressed all in white.

Morris dancing was exclusively a male domain for several hundred years, until the First World War decimated the young men of England. In some villages, there were no young man at all to carry on the tradition, and it would have died if not for the women who danced in memory and honor of their lost fathers, brothers, sweethearts and sons.
I love this song, with an ancient melody and modern words that evoke the terrible loss of the war not with descriptions of gore, but by painting the landscape of their absence. The women cope with their loss by preserving what they have left – the tradition of dance that would also die without the men.

This song has also been recorded by Maddy Prior and Tim Hart, Priscilla Herdman, Jean Redpath, and Bok, Trickett and Muir. Austin John Marshall and Shirley Collins (his wife at the time) ended the song with this verse from the Staines Morris to infuse some hope into the mournful song:

Come you young men come along
With your music, dance and song
Bring your lasses in your hand
For ’tis that which love commands
Then to the Maypole haste away
For ’tis now a holiday

The Tim Hart and Maddy Prior version is offered here.

Dancing at Whitsun sheet music
Click the image for a link to a PDF of the notation

Lyrics

It’s fifty-one springtimes since she was a bride,
But still you may see her at each Whitsuntide
In a dress of white linen and ribbons of green,
As green as her memories of loving.

The feet that were nimble tread carefully now,
As gentle a measure as age do allow,
Through groves of white blossom, by fields of young corn,
Where once she was pledged to her true love.

The fields they are empty, the hedges grow free,
No young men to tend them, or pastures go see.
They’ve gone where the forests of oak trees before
Had gone to be wasted in battle.

Down from their green farmlands and from their loved ones
Marched husbands and brothers and fathers and sons.
There’s a fine roll of honour where the Maypole once was,
And the ladies go dancing at Whitsun.

There’s a row of straight houses in these latter days
Are covering the Downs where the sheep used to graze.
There’s a field of red poppies, a wreath from the Queen.
But the ladies remember at Whitsun,
And the ladies go dancing at Whitsun.

(Thanks to Wikipedia, and a lengthy thread on Mudcat, for much of the information.―KW)

Kim Wallach is an elementary music teacher, songwriter, singer, morris dancer, Children’s Music Network board member, and mom, currently cohabitating with a Westie in Keene, NH. Her article about the children’s song “Jenny Jenkins” appeared in the CDSS Sings column in the CDSS News, Fall 2015.

Introduced by Jesse P. Karlsberg

April’s song is an early nineteenth-century set piece for a cappella four-part harmony singing with a name and hymn text that evoke the warming weather, “vernal flowers,” and “warbling choirs” of birds that accompany this season of the year. SPRING was published, without attribution, in James M. Boyd’s 1818 shape-note tunebook Virginia Sacred Musical Repository as a three-part setting. It acquired a fourth part, by W. H. Swan, when it was reprinted in the 1848 Harp of Columbia.1 It sets to music the second verse of Charles Wesley’s eighteenth-century hymn, “The voice of my beloved sounds.” SPRING is best known today thanks to its inclusion in The Sacred Harp, the popular tunebook used at all-day singings and conventions each weekend across the United States and in about two dozen countries.

One often-celebrated feature of Sacred Harp singings shared with many of the other song traditions CDSS members enjoy is their orientation toward participation rather than performance. At a Sacred Harp singing every singer has the opportunity to stand in the center of the style’s hollow square seating arrangement and lead a song or two of their choice from The Sacred Harp. As Mark T. Godfrey and I recently wrote, “[t]he songs leaders choose are building blocks that construct our experience of the day.” Leaders’ choices are deeply individual, involving songs’ “words, their music, and the memories and emotions that accrue around them.” But as we discovered by analyzing the minutes documenting thousands of singings held since 1995, singers’ choices of when to lead a select handful of songs, including those featuring texts associated with holidays such as Christmas, Easter, and the Fourth of July, and a select pair—WINTER and SPRING—named for seasons, reflect how their “individual discrete decisions build over time, shaping the seasonal ebb and flow of our collective experience.”2

Spring sheet music
Download a PDF of the sheet music for “Spring”

SPRING is led most frequently during the two-week block coinciding with the vernal equinox, the official beginning of spring—perhaps less the result of singers’ intentional marking of the equinox than a general awareness of the changing of the seasons. SPRING remains seasonably popular for the following two months, a period during which it is about twice as popular as during the rest of the year. As Mark and I discovered, the song then dips in popularity, before briefly spiking again in mid-July, perhaps reflecting a bit of nostalgia for the season’s cooler weather after summer’s heat arrives.3

SPRING is one of the more challenging songs in The Sacred Harp, with a wide range, complicated dotted rhythms, and a change in time from 2/4 to 6/8. The song is an example of a “set piece,” a relatively uncommon genre in the shape-note singing canon in which “a piece of music [is] set with particular words and designed to be used with those words only.”4 SPRING’s special relationship between tune and text is most evident in the remarkable word painting on the word “coo” late in the song, where the onomatopoeic word for a bird’s call is paired with a dramatic ascending figure in the tenor (melody), echoed by a similar figure in the treble part.

The Sacred Harp’s SPRING isn’t the only song of the season accessible to shape-note singers. The Northern Harmony includes a 1793 rollicking fuging tune also called SPRING by central Massachusetts composer Joseph Stone. It’s spring-themed verses of Isaac Watts’s 1719 versification of Psalm 147 suit its inclusion in the tunebook as part of a three-song sequence of early New England tunes arranged as an anthem on the seasons of the year.

Whether you sing SPRING, or SPRING, or even WINTER, spend a bit of time this month hailing the changing of the seasons with song.

Former CDSS board member Jesse P. Karlsberg is a postdoctoral fellow at the Emory Center for Digital Scholarship, and editor of Original Sacred Harp: Centennial Edition. He is an active Sacred Harp singer, teacher, composer, and organizer.

Multimedia Extras:

Footnotes

1 David Warren Steel, The Makers of the Sacred Harp (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2010), 204.
2 Jesse P. Karlsberg and Mark T. Godfrey, “Seasonal Songs,” Sacred Harp Publishing Company Newsletter 4, no. 2 (December 31, 2015).
3 Ibid.
4 Hugh McGraw et al., eds., The Sacred Harp: 1991 Edition (Carrollton, GA: Sacred Harp Publishing Company, 1991), 23.