A Victorian Christmas

by GreenMatthews

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1.
Let an anthem of praise and a carol of joy Each tongue and each heart in sweet concert employ This day sprung at Bethlehem a plant of renown And Christ to redeem us abandoned a crown. Conceived of a virgin how humble his birth Not graced with the pomp nor the grandeur of earth But laid in a manger with beasts at an inn No room for the saviour of Israel within. The shepherds with pleasure saluted the morn When Jesus the Shepherd of Judah was born The sages with wonder acknowledged his star And brought him their homage and gifts from afar. Great Saviour the tribute of honour we pay And celebrate gladly thy festival day We triumph in Britain thy glory to see Not sages nor shepherds more happy than we.
2.
THE Minstrels played their Christmas tune To-night beneath my cottage-eaves; While, smitten by a lofty moon, The encircling laurels, thick with leaves, Gave back a rich and dazzling sheen, That overpowered their natural green. Through hill and valley every breeze Had sunk to rest with folded wings: Keen was the air, but could not freeze, Nor check, the music of the strings; So stout and hardy were the band That scraped the chords with strenuous hand; And who but listened?--till was paid Respect to every Inmate's claim: The greeting given, the music played, In honour of each household name, Duly pronounced with lusty call, And "merry Christmas" wished to all!
3.
On Christmas night all Christians sing To hear the news the angels bring. News of great joy, news of great mirth, News of our merciful King's birth. Then why should men on earth be sad, Since our Redeemer made us glad, When from our sin he set us free, All for to gain our liberty? When sin departs before His grace, Then life and health come in its place. Angels and men with joy may sing All for to see the new-born King. All out of darkness we have light, Which made the angels sing this night: "Glory to God and peace to men, Now and for evermore, Amen!"
4.
Now the winter is come with its cold chilling breath And the leaves do fall from the trees All nature is touched with the finger of death And the streams do begin for to freeze When the wanton young boys on the water will slide And the frost overcovers the moor When with health rich enjoy everything that is good That's the time to remember the poor. When the poor harmless hare to the woods may be traced By the print he has left in the snow When our lips and our toes are turned blue with the frost And the sportsmen a shooting do go When a poor Robin Redbreast approaches our cot And icicles hang o'er the door When the bright twinkling stars proclaim the cold night That’s the time to remember the poor. O the time will draw nigh when the seasons on Earth All the world will agree with one voice All nations unite to salute the blessed morn And the ends of the Earth will rejoice When death is deprived of his cold chilly sting And the grave is a terror no more When angels and men alleluja shall sing Then the rich will lie down with the poor.
5.
Good King Wenceslas looked out On the feast of Stephen When the snow lay round about Deep and crisp and even Brightly shone the moon that night Though the frost was cruel When a poor man came in sight Gath'ring winter fuel "Hither, page, and stand by me If thou know'st it, telling Yonder peasant, who is he? Where and what his dwelling?" "Sire, he lives a good league hence Underneath the mountain Right against the forest fence By Saint Agnes' fountain." "Bring me flesh and bring me wine Bring me pine logs hither Thou and I will see him dine When we bear him thither." Page and monarch forth they went Forth they went together Through the rude wind's wild lament And the bitter weather "Sire, the night is darker now And the wind blows stronger Fails my heart, I know not how, I can go no longer." "Mark my footsteps, my good page Tread thou in them boldly Thou shalt find the winter's rage Freeze thy blood less coldly." In his master's steps he trod Where the snow lay dinted Heat was in the very sod Which the Saint had printed Therefore, Christian men, be sure Wealth or rank possessing Ye who now will bless the poor Shall yourselves find blessing
6.
The Spirit touched Scrooge on the arm, and pointed to his younger self, intent upon his reading. Suddenly a man, in foreign garments: wonderfully real and distinct to look at: stood outside the window, with an ax stuck in his belt, and leading by the bridle an ass laden with wood. "Why, it's Ali Baba!" Scrooge exclaimed in ecstasy. "It's dear old honest Ali Baba. Yes, yes, I know. One Christmas time, when yonder solitary child was left here all alone, he did come, for the first time, just like that." Then, with a rapidity of transition very foreign to his usual character, he said, in pity for his former self, "Poor boy!" and cried again. "I wish," Scrooge muttered, putting his hand in his pocket, and looking about him, after drying his eyes with his cuff: "but it's too late now." "What is the matter?" asked the Spirit. "Nothing," said Scrooge. "Nothing. There was a boy singing a Christmas Carol at my door last night. I should like to have given him something: that's all."
7.
God rest ye merry, gentlemen Let nothing you dismay Remember, Christ, our Saviour Was born on Christmas day To save us all from Satan's power When we were gone astray O tidings of comfort and joy, Comfort and joy O tidings of comfort and joy From God our Heavenly Father A blessed Angel came; And unto certain Shepherds Brought tidings of the same: How that in Bethlehem was born The Son of God by Name. O tidings of comfort and joy, Comfort and joy O tidings of comfort and joy And when they came to Bethlehem Where our dear Saviour lay, They found Him in a manger, Where oxen feed on hay; His Mother Mary kneeling down, Unto the Lord did pray. O tidings of comfort and joy, Comfort and joy O tidings of comfort and joy Now to the Lord sing praises, All you within this place, And with true love and brotherhood Each other now embrace; This holy tide of Christmas All other doth deface. O tidings of comfort and joy, Comfort and joy O tidings of comfort and joy
8.
The rising of the sun And the running of the deer, The playing of the merry organ, Sweet singing all in the choir. The holly and the ivy, When they are both full grown, Of all the trees that are in the wood, The holly bears the crown. The holly bears a blossom, As white as the lily flower, And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ, To be our sweet Saviour. The rising of the sun And the running of the deer, The playing of the merry organ, Sweet singing all in the choir. The holly bears a berry, As red as any blood, And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ For to do us sinners good. The holly bears a prickle, As sharp as any thorn, And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ On Christmas Day in the morn. The rising of the sun And the running of the deer, The playing of the merry organ, Sweet singing all in the choir. The holly bears a bark, As bitter as any gall, And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ For to redeem us all. The rising of the sun, etc. The holly and the ivy, When they are both full grown, Of all the trees that are in the wood, The holly bears the crown. The rising of the sun And the running of the deer, The playing of the merry organ, Sweet singing all in the choir.
9.
Silent Night 03:05
Stille Nacht. Heilige Nacht. Alles schläft; einsam wacht Nur das traute hoch heilige Paar. Holder Knab' im lockigen Haar, Schlafe in himmlischer Ruh. Schlafe in himmlischer Ruh. Silent night, holy night All is calm, all is bright Round yon Virgin Mother and Child Holy Infant so tender and mild Sleep in heavenly peace Sleep in heavenly peace Silent night, holy night! Shepherds quake at the sight Glories stream from heaven afar Heavenly hosts sing Alleluia! Christ, the Saviour is born Christ, the Saviour is born Silent night, holy night Son of God, love's pure light Radiant beams from Thy holy face With the dawn of redeeming grace Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth "
10.
A grand and jolly old custom you will find at Christmas time In every house you go hangs a bunch of mistletoe You find in hanging upon the wall and every charming miss She's always hovering round it for a kiss. At first you kiss the master then the daughters three or four And then you kiss the maiden aunt who's never been kissed before Under the mistletoe, under the mistletoe Young maids, old maids, dearly love to go Oh did you ever, ever hear a girl say no When you whisper come and kiss me Under the mistletoe The sweet and spoony young couple, well, they all enloy the fun They wander to and fro underneath the mistletoe And when the couple are man and wife the following Christmastide Before them all he'll boldly kiss the bride Another Christmas day comes round and then the happy pair They're at the same old game but now they're kissing a son and heir Now there's the grumpy old batch'lor who's in diggings all alone The servant gives a grin as she brings the Turkey in A feeling then overcomes him he has seldom felt before He sees the mistletoe up above the door. He gives the girl a Christmas box then steals a kiss with glee. It's only once a year of course, he likes it and so does she. The sweet kiss under the mistletoe will always be the thing It gives the modest miss excuses for a kiss You kiss her under the parlour stairs her dignity she'll show She likes it underneath the mistletoe. A bunch of mistletoe's the thing to give you perfect bliss. I always carry some myself. Would anyone like a kiss?
11.
The Oxen 00:57
Christmas Eve, and twelve of the clock. “Now they are all on their knees,” An elder said as we sat in a flock By the embers in hearthside ease. We pictured the meek mild creatures where They dwelt in their strawy pen, Nor did it occur to one of us there To doubt they were kneeling then. So fair a fancy few would weave In these years! Yet, I feel, If someone said on Christmas Eve, “Come; see the oxen kneel, “In the lonely barton by yonder coomb Our childhood used to know,” I should go with him in the gloom, Hoping it might be so.
12.
A-wassail, a-wassail throughout all the town Our cup it is white and our ale it is brown Our wassail is made of the good ale and true Some nutmeg and ginger, the best we could brew Fol the dol, fol the dol, fol the dol Fol the di-do Drink and be merry - it's a jolly wassail Our wassail is made of the elderberry bough And so my good neighbors we'll drink unto thou Besides all on earth, you have apples in store Let us come in for it's cold by the door We hope that your apple trees prosper and bear That we may have cider when we come next year And where you have one barrel we hope you'll have ten That we may have cider when we come again There's a master and a mistress sat down by the fire While we poor wassail boys stand here in the mire Come you pretty fair maid with your silver-headed pin Open the door - won't you let us come in? It's we poor wassail boys so weary and cold Please drop some silver into our old bowl And if we survive for another new year Perhaps we may call and see who does live here We know by the moon that we are not too soon We know by the sky that we are not too high We know by the star that we are not too far We know by the ground that we are within sound
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credits

released November 22, 2011

Chris Green - voice, mandocello, guitar, accordion

Sophie Matthews - voice, flute

with special guest:

Jude Rees - voice, oboe

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GreenMatthews Coventry, UK

Chris Green and Sophie Matthews play English traditional songs and tunes in a thoroughly 21st-century kick-ass style. Using a blend of ancient instruments such as cittern, English bagpipes and shawm as well as modern folk instruments such as guitar, flute and piano accordion, they breathe new life into material from hundreds of years ago, making it fresh and relevant for a modern audience. ... more

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