Saturday, 26 January 2013

Golden Mornings

Today's sunny morning prompts me to post this hymn, which comes from the Oxford Book of Carols and falls into the genre of 'post-Christmas carol', a bit like the 'January Carol', which I found in the same book.  It was newly written for the OBC by 'A. F. D.' (which, I am informed, denotes Percy Dearmer), adapting a traditional text, 'The Golden Carol'.

They saw the light shine out afar
On Christmas in the morning;
And straight they knew it was the star,
That came to give them warning:
Then did they fall on bended knee,
The light their heads adorning,
And praised the Lord, who let them see
His glory in the morning.

For three short years he went abroad
And set men's hearts a-burning;
That mission turned the world to God
And brought the night to morning:
He bore for man repulse and pain,
Ingratitude, and scorning;
He suffered, died, he rose
At Easter in the morning.

O ever thought be of his grace,
On each day in the morning;
And for his kingdom's loveliness
Our souls be ever yearning:
So may we live, to Heaven our hearts
In hope for ever turning;
Then may we die, as each departs,
In joy at our new morning.

Lift up your heads, rejoice, and dance,
Forget the days of mourning!
The waves of light advance, advance,
The fire of love is burning.
Farewell to hate and stupid fears,
To ignorance and sorrow!
He who was with us through the years
Shall bring us to the morrow.

The note on this carol in the OBC is enlightening:

There are two tunes to which the name of 'Golden Carol' is found attached, with a pair of indifferent verses, in some publications of about sixty years ago [i.e. the 1860s]. The name 'Golden Carol' was loosely used and was sometimes applied to 'The First Nowell'; but the real text of the Golden Carol is in a different metre, fifteenth-century in its earlier form, and its tune is lost. The two tunes, which we are calling 'Golden Mornings' and 'Golden' are, however, fine and distinct traditional tunes; and the verses attached to them seem to contain phrases of an original text which may have been sung to them. These phrases have therefore been retained in this new text.

The fifteenth-century text is Now is Christemas ycome, 'indifferent' itself in quality as medieval carols go; the other tune, 'Golden', the editors attached to 'As we rode down the steep hillside' by Frank Kendon. This is one of those 'fine and distinct traditional tunes':

As you see, the history of these 'Golden Carols' is a little convoluted - but for my money Dearmer's last two verses are worth all the rest of them put together!

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