Two Cumbrian Carols

This was my attempt when we had a “Cumbrian Carol Competition” at All Saints to write something with a touch of local feeling.

Far on the fellside the shepherds were watching
Their flocks in the fold all safe for the night.
When suddenly out shone an angel of heaven
Filling their valley with glorious light.

Fear not, said the angel, I bring you good tidings,
News of great joy for you and your kin:
A baby is born in the city of David,
Jesus the Saviour to free you from sin.

Multitudes then of the hosts of high heaven
Sang out in praise of the Prince without peer:
Glory to God in the highest of highest
And on the earth peace to all men of good cheer.

But here is a far better one written by a real local girl, Mary Taylor, a member of the congregation at All Saints Cockermouth with a wonderful ear for languages, distant and local.

Sheep on t’fellside were settled a’neet,
Shepherds sat sharing a reet merry meet.
Then up sprang a company of angels, a throng
Dancing and singing a gay gladsome song.
Ye ken silly shepherds the byre by the inn,
A la’al lad is born there to save thee from sin.
By bank and by lonning yon shepherds ran down
To gawp at the godchild was born in the town.
So glory to God in the heavens so high,
And peace on the earth now he has come by

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One thought on “Two Cumbrian Carols

  1. Going back nearly four decades to when I was first at secondary school, the school chaplain asked someone to set a piece of poetry by Norman Nicholson as a carol. I remember fragments of it, and am thus able to bring back the original text:

    Mary laid her child among
    The bracken fronds of night
    And by the glimmer round his head
    All the barn was lit.

    Mary held her child above
    The miry, frozen farm –
    And by the fire within his limbs
    The resting roots were warm.

    Mary hid her child between
    Hillocks of hard sand –
    By singing water in his veins
    Grass sprang from the ground.

    Mary nursed her child beside
    The gardens of a grave –
    And by the death within his bones
    The dead became alive.

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