December Tune: To Drive The Cold Winter Away

After an unusually warm and rainy November, winter has finally descended on our little town. We woke up this morning to chilly sub-zero temperatures and a blanket of snow. So I thought this would make for an appropriate December tune of the month. “To Drive the Cold Winter Away” (also known as “All Hail to the Days”) is one of my favourite seasonal tunes, a standard with my early music ensemble and my flute, harp and cello trio. Because the words are also quite lovely, I’ve also included the lyrics to the song below. The duet part was written for our cello player. If you want to use the bass as a left hand part for solo harp, you can leave out the G# if you don’t have G levers, or don’t feel like flipping in the middle of the piece.

The HarpBlog Tune of the Month is courtesy of Chubby Sparrow Music . For a printable version, right click on the picture and choose “save target as”, or pop over to the Chubby Sparrow Free Music page for more detailed printing instructions (note: if you just left click and try to print directly from the browser, it probably won’t print at the right size).

Lyrics: “All Hayle to the Dayes”, Eng. trad.

All hayle to the days that merit more praise
Than all the rest of the year!
And welcome the nights that double delights
As well for the poor as the peer!
Good fortune attend each merry man’s friend
That doth but the best that he may,
Forgetting old wrongs with carols and songs
To drive the cold winter away.

To mask and to mum, kind neighbours will come
With wassails of nut-brown ale,
To drink and carouse with all in the house
As merry as bucks in the dale;
Where cake, bread and cheese are bought for your fees
To make you the longer stay;
The fire to warm, will do you no harm,
To drive the cold winter away.

Thus none will allow of solitude now
But merrily greet the time,
To make it appear of all the whole year
That this is accounted the prime:
December is seen apparel’d in green,
And January fresh as May
Comes dancing along with a cup and a song
To drive the cold winter away.

This time of the year is spent in good cheer,
Kind neighbours together do meet
To sit by the fire with friendly desire
Each other in love to greet;
Old grudges, forgot, are put in the pot,
All sorrows aside they lay;
The old and the young doth carol this song
To drive the cold winter away.

All hail to the days…

This has certainly been an odd week for weather. Over the past couple of days I’ve been gradually emerging from the fuzzy reality of a lingering head cold, only to see our October sky streaked with hail and snow. Friday it was mostly driving sleet, though thankfully it’s stayed above zero, so the roads remained relatively clear. Saturday, I was preparing for my last wedding gig of the season, when I heard an odd sound like someone throwing stones at our window. Sure enough, I look out to see it hailing furiously. Thankfully, yesterday’s couple was wise enough to arrange for a big tent, which would be up rain or shine. Still, we would technically be outside, so I layered accordingly; nylons and longjohns under my long black skirt; a warm layer under my dress shirt and a thick wool sweater; black dress boots laced over thick socks; and two pairs of gloves just in case.

I arrived at the golf course just as the sun was coming out (excellent timing), to see a remarkable number of golfers out on the green, bundled up with toques and mittons, gamely putting away. Apparently, rather dedicated to their sport. (I think the only people more obsessive are joggers).

The tent was somewhat chilly, but had nice thick sides that were down, so at least there was no wind. The wedding was the best kind; short and sweet, everyone seeming as happy as could be, a nice relaxed air with no sense of uptightness or panic; a friendly well-spoken minister; and people who said “thank you” afterwards. (Plus I got to play all Celtic stuff that I like and can play in my sleep – so no need for a music stand or flipping pages – which is always a bonus). I didn’t need the gloves in the end, but was very glad for all my various layers, which kept me pretty cozy throughout, although by the end I was starting to feel the chill a bit. All in all, not a bad way to wrap up the season. Now hopefully I can concentrate on learning some new tunes for a change, and getting ready for all my various seasonal music projects (and a few crazy writing and home improvement ones as well).

Hope everyone’s staying warm!