The Boys of Barr na Sráide

This well-known Irish song is based on a a poem written by Sigerson Clifford and is titled after the street of the same name  in Cahersiveen, County Kerry.

The poem tells the story of Clifford’s friends during the Black and Tan period and up to the Irish Civil War.  “Hunting for the wren” is an old Irish tradition on St. Stephen’s Day (December 26 – Wren Day).

Here it is sung by three Kerrymen, the young Padraig Ó Sé (of Dún Chaoin, Co. Kerry) with two masters, Seán Garvey and Tim Dennehy.

The Boys of Barr na Sráide

Oh the town, it climbs the mountain and looks upon the sea
At sleeping time or waking, ’tis there I’d long to be
To walk again that kindly street, the place where life began
And the Boys of Barr na Sráide went hunting for the wren

With cudgels stout they roamed about to hunt the dreólín
We searched for birds in every furze from Litir to Dooneen
We sang for joy beneath the sky, life held no print nor plan
And the Boys of Barr na Sráide went hunting for the wren

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Shepherds Arise/Sing, Sing All Earth

This song was first made known by the Copper family (seen in the video) who released a recording of the traditional Christmas song on a 1971 recording A Song For Every Season. It is supposed to have originated in the area of Sussex, but there isn’t much research into the history of this lovely carol with some similarity to the shape-note/Sacred Harp tradition found in the United States.

A very Merry Christmas to you all!

Shepherds Arise/Sing, Sing All Earth

Shepherds arise, be not afraid, with hasty steps repair,
To David’s City sin on earth,*
With our blest infant there. x3

Sing, sing all earth! Sing sing all earth, eternal praises sing!
(To our redeemer) to our redeemer and our heavenly King.

Laid in a manger, view the Child. Humility divine.
Sweet in our senses, meek and mild
Grace in his features shines! x3

For us the Savior came on earth. For us His life he gave.
To save us from eternal death,
And to raise us from the grave. x3

*There is some confusion and discussion over this line. Many sources now believe this line is more properly “See the maid” as maid and afraid rhyme, and the sentence “See the maid with our blest infant there” makes grammatical sense.

Death and the Lady

In this supernatural folksong, a beautiful, young, well-to-do maiden is confronted by her own mortality… literally.

From Mainly Norfolk:

The ballad Death and the Lady was collected in 1946 by Francis M. Collison from Mr Baker of Maidstone, Kent, and published in Ralph Vaughan Williams and A.L. Lloyd’s Penguin Book of English Folk Songs.

Waterson:Carthy sang Death and the Lady in 2002 with somewhat different verses on their fourth album, A Dark Light. Martin Carthy commented in the album’s sleeve notes:

Norma learned Death and the Lady from [the Cecil Sharp collection; One Hundred English Folk Songs(1916)]. It’s a dark song here and she did what was second nature to the Watersons in their heyday, transforming the tune by altering just a couple of notes.

Death and the Lady

As I walked out one day, one day
I met an aged man by the way.
His head was bald, his beard was grey,
His clothing made of the cold earthen clay,
His clothing made of the cold earthen clay.

I said, “Old man, what man are you?
What country do you belong unto?”
“My name is Death—have you not heard of me?
All kings and princes bow down unto me
And you fair maid must come along with me.”

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