PaganSquare


PaganSquare is a community blog space where Pagans can discuss topics relevant to the life and spiritual practice of all Pagans.

  • Home
    Home This is where you can find all the blog posts throughout the site.
  • Tags
    Tags Displays a list of tags that have been used in the blog.
  • Bloggers
    Bloggers Search for your favorite blogger from this site.
  • Login
    Login Login form
Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in carols

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
The Flower Carol

The famous anthology Piae Cantiones (“Pious Songs”) was published in 1582, but the songs and tunes that it contains are thoroughly medieval. Among the collection's Latin hymns are to be found a number of songs that are, shall we say, differently pious. Probably the best-known of these “secular” anthems is the famous Tempus Adest Floridum, (“It is the time of flowering”), which was to provide the tune for that most vapid of English carols, Good King Wenceslaus.

I've seen several singable English translations from the original Latin text, nearly all of them unbearably clunky. (“Herb and plant that, winter-long, slumbered at their leisure/Now reviving, green and strong, find in growth their pleasure.” Groan.) Here's mine, which is not so much a translation as, let us say, a fantasia on the original text. If I may say so myself, it captures the expansive spirit of the original much better than any of the more literal renderings.

The little Latin hymn to the Goddess of Love which concludes the song is not part of the original; it comes from that other famous anthology of medieval Latin verse Carmina Burana, on which “20th” century composer Carl Orff based his famous pagan oratorio of the same name. Joel Cohen attached it to the version of Tempus Adest Floridum in the Boston Camerata's recording of songs from the Carmina Burana (by the way, that's CAR-min-ah, not car-MEEN-ah) to their original tunes. I liked the addition so much that I've included it here. I've also chosen to leave it untranslated; it would be impossible (for me, anyway) to create an English text as profound in its beautiful simplicity as the original. I have, however, included a literal translation so that you can know what you're singing.

This one would be appropriate for either Ostara or Beltane, or any time in between!

 

The Flower Carol

Last modified on
Recent comment in this post - Show all comments
  • Chris Sherbak
    Chris Sherbak says #
    I cherish my copy of your Solstice songs - and I'll just add this along. Thank you!!

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
The Horned One and His Ladee

Rewrites can be problematic.

They call for a certain delicacy of touch, and need to be rooted in respect for the original. You can't impose; you need to work with, matching style for style and diction for diction.

When done well, though, they can potentially both renew and transform the original.

Possibly forever.

 

 I Saw Three Ships

 

I saw three ships come sailing in

on New Year's Day, on New Year's Day

I saw three ships come sailing in

on New Year's Day in the morning.

Last modified on

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Carol of the Swallow

In English, it's called Carol of the Bells, and has become a regular part of the December soundscape.

But the Ukrainian original—like folk carols all over Europe—although sung at Christmas, doesn't have anything to do with Christmas.

Or bells.

Instead, it's about spring.

And fertility.

And sex.

Which is to say: it's thoroughly pagan, through and through. Because to pagans, Yule isn't just a self-referential blaze that sits in its own golden halo at the end of the year; it's the first spark of what comes next, a collective turning towards spring, and the growing season to come.

Last modified on
A Yule Carol by (I Kid You Not) Margaret Murray

Early 20th-century maverick archaeologist Margaret Murray (1863-1963) needs no introduction, her 1921 Witch-Cult in Western Europe having been instrumental in getting the whole witchcraft-revival wheel turning.

Before becoming a revisionist historian, however, she was first and foremost an Egyptologist. Her somewhat libertarian translation of a 19th Dynasty hymn to the Sun’s rebirth makes a charming (if rather ponderous) addition to the repertoire of Yule carols, especially for those of us weary of “little Lord Sun God, asleep in the hay”-type rewrites.

For the non-Egyptians among us, I've appended a de-Kemetized version as well.

Last modified on
Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Haley
    Haley says #
    But, of course! Thank you.
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Good question, Haley. Judging from the lyrics, I could imagine something joyous, triumphant, maybe a little bombastic, rather like
  • Haley
    Haley says #
    Thank you, Steven. What sort of tune do you have in mind with this?

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Sing Holly, Sing Ivy

 A few posts back, I wrote about the need for more Ivy carols to replace those that we've lost. Well, here's a new one. For reasons best known only to my poet's intuition, I've cast it in the form of an Elizabethan art song. I've tried to remain true both to botanical reality and to the genre's traditional (if playful) gender wars. There's a tune waiting out there somewhere, I'm sure of it.

Sing Holly, Sing Ivy

 

Of all the trees

that in winter be green,

sing Holly, sing Ivy,

if Holly be king,

then Ivy is queen.

Last modified on

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Holly Seeketh Ivy

At this time of year in the English-speaking world, one hears a lot about Holly and Ivy. As usual, the songs preserve the old lore.

In medieval England—and possibly earlier—Holly and Ivy were shorthand for "Male" and "Female." It used to be that when there was a birth in a household, you'd announce the newborn by hanging at the door a branch of holly for a boy or a wreath of ivy for a girl.

So what all those songs about the Holly wearing the crown are really about is male dominance.

But don't go grinding that double ax just yet. As usual, that's just the beginning of the tale.

Last modified on

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
The Death or Glory Wassail

As if the Yuletide weren't already dangerous enough, here come the Thug Wassailers.

Forthwith, yet another comedic masterpiece by the Grand Master of satirical British faux-ksong, Sid Kipper, here heard in redoubtable performance by Blanche Rowen and Mike Gulst.

Shell out and you won't be harmed.

Last modified on

Additional information