Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Happy Sailor - variant of Old Ship of Zion in the Sacred Harp

Sacred Harp 388 The Happy Sailor Coker UMC Hour 3 San Antonio Texas 1991 Denison Revision.mp4


Excerpt from introduction to National Sacred Harp Convention CD by John Bealle - ©2003 by the Alabama Center for Traditional Culture,

4 - “The Happy Sailor” (388)
Seth Holloway, Nashville TN
C. J. Griggs (1911) | Arr. B. F. White (1859)
Seth Holloway is in the music business in Nashville and was chair of the Young People’s Convention when the singing was hosted in that city. He is descended through his mother Sarah Smith from the singing Beasley family of Marion County, Alabama. His uncle Joe Beasley (1929-1995) made some important recordings of Sacred Harp beginning during the 1950s that were recently released on compact disk. Beasley moved from Alabama to New York City and was a pivotal figure in the Sacred Harp revival there during the years before his death in 1995. In Beasley’s honor, a scholarship fund has been established that is awarded to young Sacred Harp singers to help with college expenses. Benjamin Franklin White (1800-1879) was the chief compiler of The Sacred Harp. In 1842 he moved his family from Spartanburg, South Carolina, to Harris County, Georgia. It was there that White, having contributed in some now-unknown capacity to William Walker’s Southern Harmony, set about to compile his own book. Along with The Sacred Harp, his chief contribution to religious song was the founding of the Southern Musical Convention (1845), thereby setting in motion
the practice of democratically-organized singing conventions that has endured continuously since then. The tune of this song was arranged by B. F. White for the 1859 edition of The Sacred Harp; singer C. J. Griggs of Atlanta contributed the second and third verses. Griggs was a steadfast supporter of old sacred songs through the period when many turned to gospel music, and served J. S. James as assistant president of the United Convention in its early years. According to James,
the author of the original verse of the text is unknown. Both text and tune have circulated widely in variants under the title “The Old Ship of Zion,” notably as an African-American spiritual. As a spiritual, the most famous printed setting is surely the transcription by Lucy McKim in the book Slave Songs of the United States (1867), pp. 102-3. See: Jackson, Spiritual Folksongs, song #210. Information on C. J. Griggs is from the 1911 James footnote to “The Happy Sailor.”

Listing on the CD in list of recent SH recordings on Warren Steel's website at "Traditional Musics of Alabama, Vol. 3: 2002 National Sacred Harp Singing Convention." This professionally produced CD recording contains 32 songs sung by the very large class at the 23rd National Sacred Harp Convention on June 14, 2002 in Birmingham, AL. It was recorded, produced, and digitally mastered by Steve Grauberger of the Alabama Center for Traditional Culture. Perhaps the most outstanding aspect of this recording is the 30-page liner booklet written by historian and Sacred Harp authority John Bealle, who attended some of the early National Conventions, along with numerous photos taken by Steve Grauberger. The notes feature an authoritative essay on the history of the National Convention and a track list which provides impressively detailed information about the author of each text and the composer and history of each tune, as well as some information about the song leaders. The liner notes can be downloaded from the Internet as a pdf file. The price of the CD is $12.50 per CD plus $2.50 shipping per order. Order online or by phone at 334-242-3601.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Link to Evangelical Lutheran Hymnary Handbook

Evangelical Lutheran Hymnary Handbook
(Online Draft edition)
Copyright © Worship Committee of the Evangelical Lutheran Synod

Copyright and other information:

Most of the articles are from Library of Christian Hymns by John Dahle, a resource book on the Lutheran Hymnary (1913) and from Handbook to The Lutheran Hymnal (1942) which accompanied The Lutheran Hymnal (1941). We have placed the articles one after the other, without any editing or consolidation.

Our information tells us that these books are both in the public domain. However, the arrangement of the material in these pages is copyright by the ELS worship committee. Please feel free to copy and distribute public domain material from these pages for non-profit, non-commercial use.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

"Et barn er født i Betlehem" (a Danish version of a Reformation-era Christmas carol)

Performances of a Danish variant of a very old northern European carol, words in Latin from the 14th century set to different chorale melodies from the 16th century. (At least two, with more variants collected especially in Norway during the 1800s.) Translated into Danish by Nikolai F.S. Grundtvig.

In the Danish Psalm Book (Den Danske Salmebog Online), No. 104, there are two melodies. One is a minor-key 15th-century chorale attributed to Lossius, 1553, and picked up by Praetorius among others. The other is described as a German folk melody (Tysk visemelodi) from around 1600 harmonized by A.P. Berggreen in 1849. This setting is the Danish carol. To hear the MIDI file, click on the button labeled "Tysk visemelodi omkring 1600" under "Vælg melodi" (which means to choose a melody). There are several 78rpm recordings on YouTube.

And an interesting piano arrangement by Erling Jan Sørensen, with improvisation before and after the basic chorale melody by Sørensen himself ... and the Danish text scrolling past in time with the music.

Members of the Danish Radio Choir (Radiokoret) were recorded in 1941 at Matthæuskirken i Copenhagen. Martellius Lundqvist directed, and Palle Alsfelt played the organ.

And in 2010 "elves" from local music classes in Favreskov, near Aarhus, performed it at the Hadsten Centeret there.

Other links are embedded below, and still others are available on YouTube. Last year I linked to a haunting Norwegian version of the song, with Arve Moen Bergset singing backed by Bukkene Bruse. It has a different melody, although it may be in the same tune family as the Danish one.

Some Danish versions follow, including one at that shows a choir, Koren Glomma [choir from Glomma, a river in eastern Norway] in the city of Cluj-Napoca in Romania singing the Danish song, "with a Norwegian accent," in 2007.

Et barn er født i Bethlehem - Statsradiofoniens Pigekor 1944
Statsradiofoniens Pigekor (Girls' Choir). Dirigent: Lis Jacobsen 1944

Et Barn er født i Bethlehem - Aage Thygesen 1931
Operasanger Aage Thygesen, 1931

Thursday, September 15, 2011

John Stenson's No. 2 / for Prairieland Dulcimer Strings

Our song for the "first Thursday" session of the Prairieland Dulcimer Strings on Oct. 6 is "John Stenson's No. 2." It's an Irish reel adapted for American dulcimer. It was originally played in A major, and string bands still play it in that key, but there are lots of "D for dulcimer" versions out there. DAD tab and a MIDI file are available on the Mountain Dulcimer Association website of Huntsville, Ala.

I'll link to performances of the tune in both its Irish and American versions so you can hear how it's evolved ... and if you get bored with the DAD chords, it has a really nice melody.

A favorite jam tune in the mountain and hammered dulcimer worlds, "John Stenson's No. 2" has come a long way from County Sligo, where Irish fiddler Kevin Burke's relatives played it on a button box accordion. From a melodic, highly ornamented Irish fiddle tune, it's changed into a high-octane, flat-out tour de force for dulcimers. It's also changed its spelling, for reasons that aren't quite clear to me, and Americans often know it as John Stinson's with a "i." However you spell it and whatever key you play it in, it's a fine jam tune.

I first heard it in jam sessions at Western Carolina University's dulcimer week (now Lois Hornbostel's Dulcimerville workshop), with more than a hundred players joyously strumming away. It's always played fast (it's a reel), but I think it sounds best when it retains some of the bounce and lilt of good Irish session music.

As with all fiddle tunes, the tablature is only a rough outline. Most mountain dulcimer tab, at least in DAD, has some interesting chord changes in the B Part, but it tends to flatten out the melody.

My inroductory notes are in italics, and I'll copy the information from YouTube below with the embedded videos.

Irish (well, Australian)
and American string bands

First, two members of an Irish band in Hobart, Australia (called the "Craic-pots" if you like puns!) play it very much as Irish fiddle player Kevin Burke learned the tune from his relatives in County Sligo:

Reels by the River - Anna & Ryan: John Stenson's no.2 / Otter's Holt
Uploaded by AnnaAndRyan07 on Dec 6, 2009. Tasmanian Irish folk duo Anna & Ryan. Band Members:Anna Elliston & Ryan Garth. "Anna and Ryan playing some exciting reels down by the Richmond Bridge, Tasmania, oldest bridge in Australia." John Stenson's to 2:00 and a little reprise at the end.

Next, an American old-time string band's version. It's a little more laid-back and easy-going than I usually hear it, but the melody comes through.

John Stinsons Number Two - Rachel Eddy, Krisitan Herner, and Bill Fahy Uploaded by polishbill on Jul 8, 2010. Fahy's 2010 Yard Concert Featuring Rachel Eddy, Kristian Herner and Bill Fahy perfoming Rachels new favorite tune, Stinsons #2, followed by Rachel and Kristian perfoming Dance all Nite with a Bottle in your Hand

In the dulcimer world
(hammered and mountain)

Midwestern hammered dulcimer maven Rick Thum, of High Ridge, Mo., followed by Bing Fulch and J.T. Taylor letting it all hang out on mountain dulcimer. Listen for Bing's chords in the B Part.

John Stenson's #2 and Hangman's Reel. In concert in Rockford, Mich., November 2009. Ken Kaiser backed Thum on guitar.

Bing Futch & JT Taylor - John Stinson's #2 (Part 1). Portage Dulcimer Day Concert 2010, Portage Pa, 7/3/2010

Bing Futch & JT Taylor - John Stinson's #2 (Part 2)

Outtakes. Here are some other versions. Give them a listen: You may hear something you want to incorporate into your own playing.

Kevin Burke ~ The Star Of Munster ❖ John Stenson's No. 1 ❖ John Stenson's No. 2
Uploaded by user eireann0 in 2011, from the CD If the Cap Fits. Third in a set of three reels by the Irish master fiddler. John Stenson's No. 1 begins at 1:24 and John Stenson's No. 2 at 2:03. The Stenson family is related to Burke. Of Co. Sligo.

Evart2010 John Stinson's #2
Posted by GingerJaneM. 6:06. "Around midnight Saturday, July 17." Jamming w/ four hammered dulcimers.

John Stinson's #2
FlatMountainDulcimer "[M]ountain dulcimer performing group out of eastern North Carolina, playing mountain music in the flatlands of the southeast. the group players are Nancy, Dave and Margit."

Kiowa Special + John Stenson's #2
From: dfusselman Feb 23, 2008. Progressive version on mandolin and mountain dulcimer. John Stenson's starts at 2:14.

Mountain Dulcimer - Dulcimerica Video Podcast #63
Part seven of a series from the 2008 Suwannee Dulcimer Retreat at Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park in White Springs, Florida. This episode features a couple of pairs: Mary Z. Cox and Bing Futch play a rousing rendition of "John Stinson's #2"; David Beede and Aaron O'Rourke play David's original "meta-protest song", "Shadow of Dylan."

See also

Monday, September 12, 2011

There really was a Per Spelmann ...

... but I don't know if he had only one cow!

[Click on embedded video below for trad and heavy metal versions of the favorite children's song by Norwegian metal band Glittertind, with lyrics and translation.]

Olav Sæta says in history of North Gudbrandsdalen [search under "Blomstringstid på 1800-tallet"] in his Feletradisjoner i Oppland (1992), that he was named Per Kringelhaugen, and he played with Fel-Jakup (Fiddling Jacob) [see Jakup Lom in Norsk Lexikon] and Else-Lars [Lars Kjørren 1824-1894], celebrated traditional fiddlers. Sæta has this:
... Per Kringelhaugen (1830-1907) fra Bøverdalen, også kalt Per Spelmann. Han lærte først av Per Bergom og Jo Lilleødegard, og etter hvert også av Else-Lars. Per Spelmann var den som f6r mest i lag med Fel-Jakup de var bl.a. 13 ganger i følge til Romsdalsmarten. Det må bety at Jakup verdsatte Per Spelmann høyt, og det var Per som i første rekke førte hans spill videre da Fel-Jakup gikk bort i 1876.

Ola Gjerdet (f. 187 1) hørte Per Spelmann og Gamel-Sjugur spille i lag i 1880-åra (Erling Kjøk etter Hans Wiker). Han sa at de to og Else-Lars spelte likt, men la til at Per Spelmann kunne spelle på mange måter.

Da Jakup var borte, ble Per den ruvende spelemannsskikkelsen i distriktet. Det ser ut til at han på sommerstid stort sett dro bygdimellom med fela, men at han nå for det meste holdt seg i Ottadalen (Flå 1963)..
Google translates:
... Per Kringelhaugen (1830-1907) from Bøverdalen, also called Peter Fiddler. He taught first by Per Bergom and Jo Lilleødegard, and eventually by Else-Lars. Per the Fiddler was the most f6r together with Fel-Jakup, they were such 13 times, according to Romsdalsmarten. This must mean that Jakup valued Per Fiddler high, and it was Peter who primarily brought his game on when Fel-Jakup passed away in 1876.

Ola fence (b. 187 1) heard Per the Fiddler and the Gamel-Sjugur play together in the 1880s (Erling Kjøk after his Wiker). He said that the two and Else-Lars played the same, but added that Peter Fiddler could concertina in many ways.

When Jakup were away, As the fiddler towering figure in the district.It appears that he was in the summer pretty much went built between the fiddle, but he mostly remained in Ottadalen (Flå 1963).
As with so many master fiddlers of the 1800s, there was a body of legend about Peter Fiddler. This from the message board VGDebatt on the Olso newspaper Verdens Gang website, on a thread asking people to name their favorite fiddle player [search Favorittfelespelar - Musik- VG Nett Debatt].

On Aug. 13, 2010 [at 8:51], New_Romatic wrote:
Min favorittfelespiller er helt klart Veslefrikk. Han hadde en helt unik evne til å trollbinde sitt publikum. Jeg har også sansen for Per Spelmann, som var så glad i felen sin at han byttet bort en ku for å få den tilbake. Da snakker vi keep it real.
And Google translates:
My favorite fiddle player is clearly Veslefrikk. He had a unique ability to enchant his audience. I also sense for Peter Fiddler, who was so fond of his fiddle that he traded away a cow to get it back. When we talk keep it real.
Veslefrikk is a fairy tale about a boy who played the fiddle in Asbjørnsen & Moe. To New_Romantic's post, Zinklar replied [at 10:10]:
Eg er òg svak for Per Spelmann, eller Per Kringelhaugen som han eigentleg heitte, i frå Lom. Det var ikkje alle forunt å vera sveinnen hass Fel-Jakup, men det sette sine spor, og Per Spelmann enda som mange andre spelmenn på den tida som ein fordrukken mann. Det er dei som ikkje likar Fel-Jakup som hevder at Per Spelmann var ein mykje gjevare spelmann enn han, og at mykje av Fel-Jakup-tradisjonen eigentleg er Per Spelmann-tradisjon.

Han enda sitt liv då ei avlaus øyk råkte han i hugu med bakføtene sine.
Obviously having a little trouble with the nynorsk, Google translates:
I am also weak for At Fiddler, or Per Kringelhaugen that he actually named, the Lom. It was not all people ever to be Sveinn hass Fel-Jakup, but it put its mark, and Per Fiddler even as many other musicians at the time that a drunken man. There are those who do not like Fel-Jakup claiming that Peter Fiddler was a much gjevare fiddler than he, and that much of the Fel-Jakup tradition actually is Per Fiddler tradition.

He even their lives when a avlaus smoke will be generated råkte he Hugues with his back leg.
There's another legend about Per Spelmann in Aslak 0. Brimi's "Kva skal barnet heite?" posted to Brimi's Blog at
Per var ein dyktig spelemann og damesjarmør. For dei som ikkje veit det heitte han Per Kringelhaugen, og var frå Bøverdalen i Lom. Han var ein mykje brukt dansespelemann, og ein gong han sat og spelte på ein ball, var det ein gut som vart ståande å sjå på han. I ei pause gjekk guten bort til Per og ville skjenke han ein dram (Merk det i desse kappleikstider: Det var skikk og bruk å skjenke spelemannen). ”Sjå her nå bestefar ska’ du få ein dram hjå me’”, sa guten. Per snudde seg mot han, såg han djupt i augo, og sa: ”Neimen, æ du ein ette’ me du au?”
Google has:
Peter was an accomplished fiddler and lady charmer. For those who do not know it was called Peter Kringelhaugen, and was from Bøverdalen in Lom. He was a very common dance fiddler, and once he sat and played on a ball, it was a boy who stood looking at him. In a break went the boy over to Peter and he would pour a dram (Note that in these times of Major competition: It was the custom to bestow fiddler). "See here now grandfather ska 'you get a nip among me,'" said the boy. Peter turned to him, he looked deep into his eyes and said, "Oh, I'm to continue a 'we can au?"
I'm not sure exactly how to translate his dialect, but it sounds like he was mooching an extra drink from the boy.

Citations in passage from Olav Sæta are in bibliography for Feleverkene in Institut for Musikvitenskap website at University of Oslo [search under "Litteraturliste for feleverkene"].

Flå, L. (1963). "Per Kringelhaugen fra Lom".I: Årbok for Gudbrandsdalen.

Kjøk, J. (1995). A Spelman Saga. Otta.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

San Francisco blogger on Natkirken på Strøget

Posted April 10, 2007, on a blog Find and You Shall Seek by "Mystic Seeker" of San Francisco -

"Night Church in Copenhagen" ...
* * *

The first Friday, I attended the 8 PM International Evensong, which was conducted in English. The service consisted of songs, readings, and prayers, with participation by both the clergy and the congregation. There was no Communion. There was a creedal recitation included in the order of service, which I wasn't crazy about, but my reaction to that was simply that I did not participate in that part of it. The reason this service was conducted in English was to accommodate the many tourists who visit Night Church. Of course, late March is not exactly high tourist season in Scandinavia, but to my surprise a steady stream of what I presume to be tourists did come in, watch for a while, and then leave. I was actually rather amazed by all the coming and going--I wouldn't have had enough nerve to just drop in on the middle of a church service and then leave like that. I was sorry to say that the pews were virtually empty of people. Other than the clergy, staff, and choir, and the parade of visitors who came and went, there were only three people who sat through the entire service--myself, my girlfriend, and one other person.

The following Friday, I attended the 10 PM candlelit service. It was conducted in Danish, so I didn't understand much of what was said, but in some ways that might have been a blessing, since I was able to just sit back and enjoy the beauty of the service and the music in the candlelight. The priest, a very tall and slender man with a deep, resonant voice, is the same one who had conducted the International Evensong a week earlier. He may have recognized me from the week before, because after service he asked me where I was from. When I said "San Francisco", he asked me if I lived in Copenhagen now. I said no, and told him I just wanted to check out the service while vacationing. I added that I didn't understand what was said. He laughed and said, "Of course". Danes don't expect foreigners to speak their language.

I really enjoyed the candlelit service a lot. As I left the church walked out into the cold nighttime air, I felt a pleasant glow; I really was glad that I had attended it. If I ever go to Copenhagen again, I will definitely go to the candlelit service at Night Church.
Follows a lengthy post April 9 on the "intellectual failure of orthodox Christianity" and Danish theologians

Friday, September 02, 2011

Vachel Lindsay's meeting with Civil War veteran, old-time fiddle player in west central Illinois

Excerpted from the first of his vignettes in Adventures While Preaching the Gospel of Beauty (1912). Copied and pasted from

[p. 21]

* * * These selections from letters home tell
how I came into Kansas and how I adven-
tured there. The letters were written avow-
edly as a sort of diary of the trip, but their
contents turned out to be something less than
that, something more than that, and some-
thing rather different.

Thursday, May 30, 1912. In the blue
grass by the side of the road. Somewhere
west of Jacksonville, Illinois. Hot sun.


Cool wind. Rabbits in the distance. Bum-
blebees near.

At five last evening I sighted my lodging
for the night. It was the other side of a
high worm fence. It was down in the hol-
low of a grove. It was the box of an old
box-car, brought there somehow, without its
wheels. It was far from a railroad. I said
in my heart "Here is the appointed shelter."
I was not mistaken.

As was subsequently revealed, it belonged
to the old gentleman I spied through the
window stemming gooseberries and singing :
"John Brown's body." He puts the car top
on wagon wheels and hauls it from grove to
grove between Jacksonville and the east
bank of the Mississippi. He carries a saw
mill equipment along. He is clearing this
wood for the owner, of all but its walnut
trees. He lives in the box with his son and
two assistants. He is cook, washerwoman
and saw-mill boss. His wife died many
years ago.


The old gentleman let me in with alac-
rity. He allowed me to stem gooseberries
while he made a great supper for the boys.
They soon came in. I was meanwhile as-
sured that my name was going into the pot.
My host looked like his old general, McClel-
lan. He was eloquent on the sins of
preachers, dry voters and pension reformers.
He was full of reminiscences of the string
band at Sherman's headquarters, in which
he learned to perfect himself on his wonder-
ful fiddle. He said, "I can't play slow mu-
sic. I've got to play dance tunes or die."
He did not die. His son took a banjo from
an old trunk and the two of them gave us
every worth while tune on earth: Money
Mush, Hell's Broke Loose in Georgia, The
Year of Jubilee, Sailor's Hornpipe, Baby
on the Block, Lady on the Lake,
and The
Irish Washerwoman,
while I stemmed goose-
berries, which they protested I did not need
to do. Then I read my own unworthy
verses to the romantic and violin-stirred


company. And there was room for all of
us to sleep in that one repentant and con-
verted box-car.

Friday, May 31, 1912. Half an hour
after a dinner of crackers, cheese and raisins,
provided at my solicitation by the grocer in
the general store and post-office. Valley
City, Illinois. * * *

From Vachel Lindsay. 1914. Adventures While Preaching the Gospel of Beauty. Internet Archive Italics supplied.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Carolan's Draught - w/links to Pierre Bensusan playing "Shi Bhig Shi Mhor" and a very good tin whistle website

"Carolan's Draught" arranged and played Celtic finger-picking style by Jean Banwarth ... Tablature Trad Magazine n° 120 Tabs book (+ scores) avalaible on line from MusTraDem website.

"Shi Bhig Shi Mhor" played by Pierre Bensusan in a free-form, improvisational style

Wandering Whistler Music Archives has tin whistle lead sheets for both, Carolan's Draught in G and Shi Bhig Shi Mhor in D. This is a great website for sheet music!