Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Music for praise team, Saturday, Oct. 3, Atonement-Faith-Luther Memorial contemporary service

Call to Worship: What Kind of Love Is This? (Adam, Jamie on verses, team will join on chorus) - find a version by Phillips, Craig, and Dean to listen to).

Worship Set: You Are My King (Amazing Love)/Word of God Speak medley: Amazing Love: V, Ch, V, Ch, right into Word of God Speak Ch, Ch, then back to Amazing Love: Ch -- if you can find Guy Penrod's Worship album online to listen to this, that might help you get the flow ...

Opening Prayer --
Welcome/Announcements/Greeting - Sharing of the Peace (band will play underscore)
Psalm 150 intro to lead into: Let Everything That Has Breath

Creed: Because We Believe (like last week/normal)
Lord's Prayer (like last week/normal)

Sending Song: Forever (... normal)


What Kind of Love Is This?

Amazing Love/Word of God Speak -- medley on Guy Penrod, Worship CD (*see below* --

Let Everything That Has Breath -- Matt Redman --

[Service music:]

  • Because We Believe (creed)

    <.i>---------- (Lord's Prayer)

Forever -- Chris Tomlin --


Guy Penrod promo interview on Amazing Love/Word of God Speak medley:

Monday, September 28, 2015

Looking ahead to Advent soup suppers -- "Cherry Tree Carol" and a moment of realization how the Holy Family was just like any other family when it came to food preparation

Blast email message for Clayville-Prairieland Academy of Music jam session list ...

So it's WHAT-tober? Already?!? Which means we have two sessions coming up in the next week:

-- Saturday, from 10 a.m. to noon, Oct. 3, in the barn at Clayville Historic Stage Coach Stop, Ill. 125 in Pleasant Plains; and

-- Tuesday, from 7 to 9 p.m., Oct. 6, in the "narthex" (lobby) at Atonement Lutheran Church, 2800 W. Jefferson Ave., Springfield.

Let's just go around the circle and call tunes we want to play. No stress, no mess -- well, less mess -- that way. But let's make sure we call a couple of Christmas tunes. Atonement is going in with two other Springfield congregations in the building on West Jefferson, Faith and Luther Memorial, but I understand they've decided to continue the Wednesday night soup suppers in Advent, the season of the church year between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Part of our deal with Atonement has been that we play at one of the suppers. It's been our way of saying thank-you for letting us have the space rent-free. While everything is up in the air because of the transition, I think we'll be invited to play again. So we've identified two songs we'd like to play:

1. "The Cherry Tree Carol"

Lead sheets w/ notation, chords and dulcimer tab at

2. "I Saw Three Ships on Christmas Day"

Lead sheets at

I will post links to YouTube clips -- some of them, vocals and instrumentals alike, are stunning -- along with some notes on how Joseph and Mary, the "queen of Galilee," were just like any other couple when it came to getting the food on the table! Links here:

FOUND IN THE BLACKSMITH'S SHOP AT CLAYVILLE after the Fall Festival, a white ring binder with guitar tab. We think we've found the owner, but I learned a long time ago never to go with what I "think." If it's yours, pls let me know by replying to this email message.

* * *

Our dulcimer tab for the "Cherry Tree Carol" is by Ralph Lee Smith and Maddie McNeill, of a southern Appalachian version of the old English ballad that's very similar to the one sung by the late Jean Ritchie in the linked video clip. I never hear it without thinking of the time I was in a workshop of Ralph's at Western Carolina University. All was well until we got to the verse that says:

And Mary gathered cherries
While Joseph stood around.

There were at least a dozen women in the class, and three or four men. When we got to that line, every one of the women burst out laughing. Ralph looked up, confused, and the men looked around wondering what was so funny. Then I heard a voice on the other side of the classroom say, "Well, isn't that just like a man, standing around while the women do all the work?"

* * *

Background [and tab] on "Cherry Tree Carol" at

We started singing it last year in the Betterton Cabin at Clayville's annual Christmas party, and we liked it so much we decided right then to work it up for this year's Advent program. In addition to the linked interpretations by Sting, Jean Ritchie and the Mark O'Connor bluegrass band, I found a very fine vocal by Seattle grunge and alt rock artist Mark Lanegan:

Background and YouTube clips on "I Saw Three Ships" at

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Music for praise team, Saturday contemporary service Sept. 26 at Atonement-Faith-Luther Memorial

Found on YouTube ... and posted here so I can learn the melodies

Worship Set

How Great is Our God

We Fall Down (by Chris Tomlin)

Meditation/Focus Reading (based on scripture)

Shout to the Lord (chorus, chorus) - congregation and team. We'll have the Because We Believe creed and sung Lord's Prayer (Willow Creek). These are normal Saturday staples.

Closing Song: Shout to the Lord (as written).

Monday, September 21, 2015

Music to a cat lover's ears

Well, this is (mostly) a music blog ... with an occasional cat picture or two ... but this piece titled "Cat Sounds and What They Mean" by Laura Moss, on the MNN (Mother Nature News) website, has a pretty good translation guide to some of the "meows, growls, chirrups and chatters" we hear around our house. Here's one:

And here's a video of a cat purring. Listen to that for half a minute, and it's as good as taking 50mg of Metoprolol for high blood pressure. Music to my ears:

If you have cats, or like cats, you can scope out the rest at

Sunday, September 20, 2015

"Pretty Brown Girl"

For my DPN story on hammered dulcimers in Ireland ...

Capt. Francis O'Neill, Dance Music of Ireland: 1,001 Gems. Chicago: Lyon & Healey, 1907. No. 151. Old Music Project.

Lead sheet, abc notation and MIDI file at

Chapter XIII, Black Baronet:

... Our friend Dandy, who was on the outside, finding that the coach came to a level space on the road, placed the dulcimer on his knees, and commenced an accompaniment on that instrument, which produced an effect equally comic and agreeable. And what added to the humor of this extraordinary duet—if we can call it so—was the delight with which each intimated his satisfaction at the performance of the other, as well as with the terms in which it was expressed. "Well done, Dandy! dang my buttons, but you shine upon the wires. Ah, thin, it's you that is and ever was the wiry lad—and sure that was what made you take to the dulcimer of course. Dandy, achora, will you give us, 'Merrily kissed the Quaker?' and I ask it, Dandy, bekaise we are in a religious way, and have a quakers' meetn' in the coach."

"No," replied Dandy; "but I'll give you the 'Bonny brown Girl,' that's worth a thousand of it, you thief."

"Bravo, Dandy, and so it is; and, as far as I can see in the dark, dang my buttons, but I think we have one here, too."

"I thank you for the compliment, sir," said Alley, appropriating it without ceremony to herself. "I feel much obliged to you, sir; but I'm not worthy of it." "My darling," replied the jolly farmer, "you had betther not take me up till I fall. How do you know it was for you it was intended? You're not the only lady in the coach, avourneen."

"And you're not the only gintleman in the coach, Jemmy Doran," replied Alley, indignantly. "I know you well, man alive—and you picked up your politeness from your cattle, I suppose."

"A better chance of getting it from them than from you," replied, the hasty grazier. "But I tell you at once to take it aisy, achora; don't get on fire, or you'll burn the coach—the compliment was not intended for you, at all events. Come, Dandy, give us the 'Bonny brown Girl,' and I'll help you, as well as I'm able." In a moment the dulcimer was at work on the top of the coach, and the merry farmer, at the top of his lungs, lending his assistance inside.

When the performance had been concluded, Alley, who was brimful of indignation at the slight which had been put upon her, said, "Many thanks to you, Misther Doran, but if you plaise we'll dispense wid your music for the rest of the journey. Remember you're not among your own bullocks and swine—and that this roaring and grunting is and must be very disagreeable to polite company."

The Traditional Tune Archive,

CAILÍN DEAS DONN [2] (A Pretty Brown-Haired Maid). AKA and see "Pretty Brown Maid/Girl [3]," "Bobby in Bed." Irish, Air (12/8 time). F Minor. Standard tuning (fiddle). One part. Does not seem to be related to "Cailín Deas Donn (1)". Also called 'Bobby in Bed.'" See also "Move Up to Me," "Did You See My Man Looking for Me? [1]." O'Sullivan (1983) points out that the tune was in the dorian mode in Bunting's manuscript, altered to the ionian mode in the printed collection: both are nearly exact mirrors of one another, save that the dorian mode tune is transposed down one step. However, the key signature for both versions remains the same. O'Sullivan is unable to account for this, save that Bunting may have been trying to 'improve' the tune in his published work.

Source for notated version: the index to the Irish collector Edward Bunting's 1840 collection gives that the tune was noted at "Deel Castle, Ballina, in 1792," though a note in Bunting's MS version states it was taken from the harper "Charles Byrne.

Printed sources: O'Sullivan/Bunting, 1983; No. 53, pp. 82-83.

Several videos on YouTube:

  • Cailín deas donn, song / Micheál Ó Cuaig, singing in Irish. Recorded in Hughes' Bar, Dublin at Sean Nós Cois Life, 2012.

  • Cailin Deas Donn · Fiddlehead The Pure Drop ℗ 2007 Fiddlehead "Cailin Deas Donn" by Fiddlehead (Google Play • iTunes)

Saturday, September 19, 2015

"Go Light Your World" lyrics by Chris Rice -- anthem for first blended service **UPDATED** with picture of praise team, Sept. 20, 2015

Anthem for first service of blended ELCA congregation (Atonement, Faith and Luther Memorial) praise team, Springfield, Sept. 20, 2015

Christine Young - Go Light Your World (a Chris Rice song). Says YouTube user Bob Marsahll, who posted this version:

Chris Rice wrote this song and also recorded a very nice version of it. Kathy Troccoli also made a nice recording of the song. I like this version by Christine Young the best, though. Wish I could tell you more about Christine but Google didn't cooperate. I do know that the song is from a nice album called "Beauty From Ashes", which was recorded in Germany in 2002. At that time Christine had been singing for over 20 years. The song echoes the sentiments of Matthew 5:16.

LATER (posted to my Facebook timeline Sunday, Sept. 27): A different kind of birthday -- Debi and I joined the praise team at Springfield's new ELCA Lutheran congregation for our first Saturday "contemporary" communion service. (Picture below shows members, in the background, singing at the first blended service incorporating Atonement, Faith and Luther Memorial the week before.) New type of music, new techniques like singing into a mike and reading scripture to keyboard backup, etc., but it went pretty well for a guy who was practically sight-reading!

Contemporary reviews of William Carleton's fiction ** UPDATED ** w/ a cite to my stab at translating an Irish word

David James O'Donoghue. The life of William Carleton: being his autobiography and letters; and an account of his life and writings, from the point at which the autobiography breaks off. London: Downey & Co., 1896.

Quarterly Review -- Wikipedia "

Typical of early nineteenth-century journals, reviewing in the Quarterly was highly politicized and on occasion excessively dismissive. Writers and publishers known for their Unitarian or radical views were among the early journal's main targets. Prominent victims of scathing reviews included the Irish novelist Lady Morgan (Sydney Owenson), the English poet and essayist Walter Savage Landor, the English novelist Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley and her husband the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley. In an 1817 article, John Wilson Croker attacked John Keats in a review of Endymion for his association with Leigh Hunt and the so-called Cockney School of poetry. Shelley blamed Croker's article for bringing about the death of the seriously ill poet, 'snuffed out', in Byron's ironic phrase, 'by an article'

Dublin Review -- Wikipedia says:

The Dublin Review was an influential Catholic periodical founded in 1836 by Michael Joseph Quin, Cardinal Wiseman and Daniel O'Connell. Quin had the original idea for the new journal, soon persuading Wiseman to lend his support, and next enlisting O'Connell whose Catholic Emancipation campaign he admired. Quin edited the first two issues before leaving to take up a post in the Spanish colonial service. This fell through, but O'Connell would not re-instate him as editor, nor allow him to continue as co-proprietor.

According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, "The review was intended to provide a record of current thought for educated Catholics and at the same time to be an exponent of Catholic views to non-Catholic inquirers." Its editors and contributors included many well-known writers discussing current affairs alongside religious, literary and historical topics.

The name was chosen because Dublin was a centre of Catholic culture, and it echoed the title of the flourishing Edinburgh Review, but the journal was actually published in London: quarterly at first, then monthly. Contributors to the magazine included Don Luigi Sturzo, E. I. Watkin.[1] and Barbara Ward.[2] In 1961 the name was changed to the Wiseman Review, to avoid confusion, but the publication reverted to the original name in 1965. It ceased publication in 1969, and was incorporated into The Month.

LATER (Sept. 26): Wordnik at links to a sketch titled "The Poor Scholar" in Traits and Stories of the Irish Peasantry

Google Books cite: Geography of an Irish oath. The Lianhan Shee. Going to Maynooth. Phelim O'Toole's courtship. The poor scholar. Wildgoose Lodge. Tubber Derg; or, The red well. Neal Malone Volume 2 of Traits and Stories of the Irish Peasantry, William Carleton Author William Carleton Publisher Wilson & Hawkins, 1862.

Excerpt from email to Wms C.: It was kind of fun trying to figure it out. The only times "ahagur" appears on the Internet is in old editions of Carleton's books, and it only appears then in dialog. The context is always a conversation between two people who know each other, and it's used as a kind of direct address -- e.g. in the linked passage, a couple address each other as "avourneen" and "ahagur," and that's typical of the others.

In this bit of dialog, Carleton translates it as "jewel." I can't find the exact word, but I'm guessing it's Co. Tyrone dialect -- or something he heard from his mother -- on the order of "dearie" or "honeybunch" or "good morning, sunshine."That's still guesswork, but I'm comfortable enough to say "ahagur [a term of endearment]" with my guess in brackets after the word when I get the article ready to send off a magazine.

BTW, the excerpt I'm sending you from Carleton's _Traits and Sketches of the Irish Peasantry_ is his take on a country priest who: (a) is preaching about Purgatory; and (b) sounds a lot like the jake-leg country preachers who were still plying their trade down home when I was a kid, and no doubt still are.

Again, thanks for your help. Sometimes looking for something, coming up with nothing and identifying it as a blind alley is an important part of the process, at least in my experience!

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Pastor Nadia Bolz-Weber interviewed today by NPR's Terry Gross

I guess you could call it a blended congregation ...

In Denver the Rev Nadia Bolz-Weber has started a Lutheran congregation called the House for All Sinners and Saints. It was intended to be a ministry to "academics and queers and comics and recovering alcoholics," in Bolz-Weber's words, as well as others who didn't fit in with your typical suburban mainline Protestant churches. But it didn't stay that way ...

Bolz-Weber, who goes by Pastor Nadia to her congregation, was interviewed recently by Terry Gross of National Public Radio's Fresh Air program, one of the best interviewers in the business. It aired today, and is now available on NPR's website.

Bolz-Weber's congregation includes LGBT people, people with addictions, compulsions and depression, and even nonbelievers. "Some churches might have a hard time welcoming junkies and drag queens; we're fine with that," she says.

Still, Bolz-Weber admits to feeling uneasy when "bankers in Dockers" started coming to her services: "It threw me into a crisis, because I felt like, 'Wait, you could go to any mainline Protestant church in this city and see a room full of people who look just like you. Why are you coming and messing up our weird?' "

Ultimately, Bolz-Weber says, mixing more traditional newcomers with her church's original parishioners has been good for her congregation. "I thought it was diluting the weird; now it's much weirder to have them all together," she explains.

And regardless of who fills the seats, Bolz-Weber's message from the pulpit remains the same: "My job is to point to Christ and to preach the Gospel and to remind people that they're absolutely loved ... and all of their mess-ups are not more powerful than God's mercy and God's ability to sort of redeem us and to bring good out of bad."

She told Terry Gross:

Nobody ever meets me and guesses. The best thing is on airplanes. ... Eventually if you talk to [people], which I try not to do, but if it has to happen, then they'll say, "What do you do?" and I'll invite them to guess, and never once have they guessed. I did get "burlesque dancer" once, which pleased me to no end. If you're a middle-aged Lutheran pastor and someone guesses you're a burlesque dancer, that feels like a win for the day.

And this:

One of the values my community has always held is this idea of welcoming the stranger. ... So having this value — it was really challenged at that point when different people started coming in. ...

The Denver Post ... ran this big front-page story about me with this terrifying picture of me, and so the next Sunday, tons of people showed up. But the thing is, you know who takes the paper are, like, 60-year-olds in the suburbs. That's who showed up. So we're looking around going, "What's happened? Our weirdness is being diluted." I called a friend of mine who has a church with a similar demographic in St. Paul, Minn., and I was like, "Dude, have you ever had normal people mess up your church?" and he goes, "Yeah, you guys are really good at welcoming the stranger if it's a young transgender kid, but sometimes the stranger looks like your mom and dad." ...

That's what is challenging to me about Christianity is that exact thing — being forced to look at your own stuff and being pushed into a space of grace that's really, really uncomfortable.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Songs that Dulcimer Dandy plays in Black Baronet, Ch. XIII

Cruiskeen Lawn

The Old Music Project at

Merrily Kissed the Quaker


Bonny (Pretty) Brown Girl

"The Irish Fiddler." The Irish Penny Journal, 1 (Aug. 8, 1840):52-55.

"I'll lay Shibby to a penny trump that you could dance your own namesake -- the Colleen dhas dhun, the bonny brown girl -- upon a spider's cobweb." (55)

The Traditional Tune Archive,

CAILÍN DEAS DONN [1], AN. AKA and see "My Pretty Fair Maid," "Pretty Brown Girl (2) (The)." Irish, Jig. G Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AABB. See also similar melodic material from strains of "Big Bow Wow."

CAILÍN DEAS DONN [2] (A Pretty Brown-Haired Maid). AKA and see "Pretty Brown Maid/Girl [3]," "Bobby in Bed." Irish, Air (12/8 time). F Minor. Standard tuning (fiddle). One part. Does not seem to be related to "Cailín Deas Donn (1)". Also called 'Bobby in Bed.'" See also "Move Up to Me," "Did You See My Man Looking for Me? [1]." O'Sullivan (1983) points out that the tune was in the dorian mode in Bunting's manuscript, altered to the ionian mode in the printed collection: both are nearly exact mirrors of one another, save that the dorian mode tune is transposed down one step. However, the key signature for both versions remains the same. O'Sullivan is unable to account for this, save that Bunting may have been trying to 'improve' the tune in his published work.

Source for notated version: the index to the Irish collector Edward Bunting's 1840 collection gives that the tune was noted at "Deel Castle, Ballina, in 1792," though a note in Bunting's MS version states it was taken from the harper "Charles Byrne.

Printed sources: O'Sullivan/Bunting, 1983; No. 53, pp. 82-83.

Capt. Francis O'Neill, Dance Music of Ireland: 1,001 Gems. Chicago: Lyon & Healey, 1907. No. 151.

Andrew Kuntz, Fiddlers' Companion[1]

PRETTY BROWN GIRL [1], THE (An Cailín Deas Donn). Irish, Air (3/4 time). D Major. Standard tuning. AB. Roche Collection, 1982; vol. III, pg. 9.

PRETTY BROWN GIRL [2], THE (An Cailín Deas Donn). AKA – “Pretty Brown-Haired Girl.” AKA and see "Colleen Dhas Dhoun," “Colleen Dhas Dun,” "My Pretty Fair Maid," "The Pretty Fair Maid," "Máirín Buggerty.” Irish, Double Jig. Ireland, Connaught. G Major (Breathnach, Levey, O’Neill): D Major (O’Farrell). Standard tuning. AB (Levey): AABB (Breathnach, O’Farrell, O’Neill). The tune was printed by O’Farrell in his Pocket Companion for the Irish or Union Pipes (1810) as “Calleen Das Dawn.” Breathnach (1976) finds two settings in Stanford/Petrie under the “Pretty Brown Girl” title and as “A Connaught tune” (1327/28); he finds second part of Petrie’s “Buachallín Óg [1]," (1266) the same as the first part of “Pretty Brown Girl.” Aird’s “The Big Bow Wow” uses the same first part. O’Neill’s “Move up to me” has the second part of “Pretty Brown Girl” as does his song “Did you see my man looking for me? [1]” (in Waifs and Strays of Gaelic Melody, 24). Songs set to the tune have the parts reversed from the way musicians render it, so that the chorus goes with the first part of the music. Source for notated version: flute player Jim Conroy, 1970 (Cluain Cua, near Graigue, Co. Galway, Ireland) [Breathnach]. Breathnach (CRÉ II), 1976; No. 14, pg. 10. Levey (Dance Music of Ireland, 2nd Collection), 1873; No. 54, pg. 23 (appears as “Colleen Dhas Dun”). O’Farrell (Pocket Companion, vol. IV), 1810; pg. 75. O'Neill (Dance Music of Ireland: 1001 Gems), 1986; No. 151, pg. 40.
T:Pretty Brown Girl, The [2]
S:O’Neill – Dance Music of Ireland: 1001 Gems (1907), No. 151 Z:AK/Fiddler’s Companion
A|B2d cAA|BGG cAG|B2d cAA|BGG G2A|B2d cAA|Bde dBG|B2d cBA|BGG G2:|
|:f|gee fdd|ece dBG|gfe fdf|ece d2 e/f/|gfe fdf|e/f/ge dBG|B2d cBA|BGG G2:|
T:Calleen Das Down
R:Jig or Air
S:O’Farrell – Pocket Companion, vol. IV (1810)
Z:AK/Fiddler’s Companion
A | F2d GEE | FDD GEC | F2d GEE | FDD D2 :|
|: A | dBB cAA | BGG AFD | ded cAA | BGG A2e |
fed cAA | ABG AFD | F2d GEE | FDD D2 :|

PRETTY BROWN MAID/GIRL [3] (Cailin deas donn). AKA and see "Cailin Deas Donn [2]." Irish, Air (12/8 time).

Red-haired Man's Wife

xxx Ment. "fair of Baltihorum" (???) Cf. Baltehorum Jig in "The Irish Fiddler" Irish Penny Journal, p. 54.

Din klara sol last month in Linköping

"Again, Thy glorious sun doth arise" -- the Swedish hymn I demonstrated on the psalmodikon at First Baptist Church Moline and Colona United Methodist Church this summer in the Quad-Cities (details and links at:

Video shows the hymn performed en ensemble last month by Nordiska Psalmodikonförbundet. Says Göran Carlström of NPsF, who posted it to YouTube: "Elva psalmodikonmusikanter framför Din Klara Sol i Slaka Kyrka, Linköping i augusti 2015" (11 psalmodikon musicians play "Again, Thy glorious sun" in Slaka Church, Linköping, August 2015).

Monday, September 14, 2015

"Down by the Salley Gardens" -- new lead sheets and dulcimer tab for an old favorite of ours, and a stunning performance on BBC

PLEASE NOTE: Members and friends of the Clayville-Prairieland Pioneer Academy of Music song-sharing and instrumental slow jam sessions are invited to play at the Clayville Fall Fesival from 1 to 4 p.m. (or thereabouts) Saturday, Sept. 19, and Sunday, Sept. 20, at Clayville Historic Site, Ill. 125, Pleasant Plains. Details at

It's very informal, and we don't have a playlist, but this is a song I hope we'll play.

One song we haven't played a lot lately is "Down by the Salley Gardens," an Irish air with words by William Butler Yeats set to a traditional Irish melody. I couldn't find it when I went looking through my disorderly batch of sheet music, chords and dulcimer tab tonight. So I went on line and found new tab (hey, I don't know it's new -- it may be the same tab), which is linked below in case you can't find our old music.

It's a lovely song, and it was around in one form or another before Yeats arranged it -- or wrote it -- and published it in The Wanderings of Oisin and Other Poems in 1889. Says Wikipedia:

Yeats indicated in a note that it was "an attempt to reconstruct an old song from three lines imperfectly remembered by an old peasant woman in the village of Ballisodare, Sligo, who often sings them to herself." The "old song" may have been the ballad The Rambling Boys of Pleasure ..."

And this:

"Salley" or "sally" is a form of the Standard English word "sallow", i.e., a tree of the genus Salix. It is close in sound to the Irish word saileach, meaning willow.

The video below, taken from a British Broadcasting Corp. TV special, features Irish vocalist Karen Matheson backed by studio musicians from the US, Ireland and the UK.

It's from Transatlantic Sessions (series 2), a BBC television special that aired in 1998, featuring Nashville musicians and artists from Ireland, Scotland and England

fiddle: Aly Bain
accordion: Donald Shaw
flute: Ronan Browne
dobro: Jerry Douglas
guitar: Russ Barenberg
bass: Danny Thompson

Sheet music, chords and dulcimer tab

Signature performances on YouTube

  • By the trad Irish group Clannad in Leo's Tavern, their home pub, in Co. Donegal --

  • A vocal in the style of an art song, arranged by Benjamin Britten, by Swedish opera tenor Nicolai Gedda, accompanied by Gerald Mooreon piano --

We interrupt this message ...

... with a quote attributed to University of Chicago church historian Martin Marty in a review article in Christian Century. I couldn't tell you exactly what it means -- in fact I'm posting it here so I'll see it and I can keep thinking about it -- but I think it describes where I come from (or ought to), both theologically and politically:

Martin Marty once said that the best wisdom in the church comes from the left of the right and the right of the left—which is not the same as the middle.

Jason Byassee, "Delight in Preaching: Six books on the craft and its purpose." Christian Century Sept. 9, 2015

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Hammered dulcimers in UK and Ireland -- misc links

I hadn't known the HD was traditionally played in Ireland. However, there's at least little bit online to suggest a tradition of Irish dulcimer players.

Here's a discussion group page on the tradconnect website, "connecting traditional Irish musicians across the world," at Says Dick Glasgow of Northern Ireland, "The Hammered Dulcimer has been here & playing Irish Music in Ireland at least since 1738, when we know one Archibald Williamson, was active in Dublin."

And an interesting thread on The Session, at", concluding -- but not quite conclusively -- that "as voiced by many session musicians over the years, it is not what you might call the most popular of instruments, when it appears in the Pub doorway, under someone’s arm."

(A sentiment that mountain dulcimer people also run into.)

Dick Glasgow's website

Standard reference is David Kettlewell's thesis at ____________ University in England. Summarized on line at Dulcimer-players and Their Instruments. ["David Kettlewell's doctoral thesis 'The Dulcimer' (1976 with updates) is gradually being presented here"]

"William Carleton & the William Carleton Summer School." William Carleton Summer School, Corick House Hotel, Clogher, County Tyrone, 2-5 August 2010.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

(Hammered?) dulcimer in Ireland in 1857 novel, The Black Baronet by William Carleton

A mystery, well, not so much a mystery as something I didn't expect and I don't know what to make of it yet -- while I was looking for something else [*see below], I found a reference to a dulcimer in a novel published in 1857 in Ireland. It's in Chapter XIII of "The Black Baronet; or The Chronicles of Ballytrain" by William Carleton, and it's almost certainly a hammered dulcimer. (But good scholar that I try to be, I can't say that with 100 percent assurance.) Available on line in several editions. The one I consulted (which has links to illustrations, etc.), is at

Here's an excerpt:

And a later passage, in which "Dandy Dulcimer" plays his instrument on top of a stagecoach. It's of interest because it gives a hint of the size of the instrument, and how it was played ... and it mentions a couple of songs:

The tops and bottoms of the pages are cut off here, but it's enough to give the flavor of the passage ...

William Carleton, according to Wikipedia at, "is best known for his Traits and Stories of the Irish Peasantry a collection of ethnic sketches of the stereotypical Irishman." He was regarded as something of a turncoat anti-Catholic who "succeeded in offending everybody during the course of his life," according to Wikipedia. Judging by the excerpts I turned up this morning, his sketches in Baronet are nothing if not stereotypical.

But there's that hammered dulcimer, and those songs.

The book is available at in

"Bonnie Brown Girl" -- [PLEASE NOTE: When I first started looking at this a couple of weeks ago, I though it referred to the common English ballad "Lord Thomas and Fair Eleanor," also known as the "Bonnie Brown Girl" and widely sung throughout the British Isles. But I found another reference in an article by Carleton that clearly identifies it as an Irish song called "The Pretty Brown Girl." I'm leaving what I wrote about "Lord Thomas ..." up on the blog (never know when you might need it in future), with this note indicating that I've reconsidered it. -- PE 09-24-15]

... cf. "Lord Thomas and Fair Eleanor"? -- says Martin Carthy, as quoted on the website Mainly Norfolk: English Folk and Other Good Music at


Lord Thomas is a twerp whose mother thinks that the sun shines out of his saddle sores. Does a lot of riding does our Thomas, what with all the to-ing and fro-ing between his place, his mother's place, the penniless but very lofty and fragrant (where O where have we heard that word before?) Fair Eleanor in her gaff and his imminent wedding. Seems that Thomas and Eleanor think of the Brown Girl as nothing more than some nouveau riche arriviste unworthy of his attentions—except (as far as he is concerned) for that damnably interesting “rich” part following on from the loathed “nouveau” and preceding the equally contemptible “arriviste” bit. Eleanor's mother, however, is possessed of at least half a brain and is far from blind to this disaster waiting to happen, but even her focused warnings fail to stem her daughter's drive to impale herself on her own spite. The one truly lamented casualty here is the Brown Girl, whose love is thrown back in her face but whose riposte is swift, silent and final. Costs her her own life though. A.L. Lloyd is right when he says that some of the Scots oral versions have small illuminating extras, so while ditching the last two “Rose and Briar” verses which seem to me our of place, I've taken a couple of others from those Scots sets in order to underline the fragrant Eleanor's real malice aforethought. It's from Somerset and Cecil Sharp.

"Merrily Kissed the Quaker" has quite a pedigree. Says Andrew Kuntz in the Fiddlers Companion at

MERRILY DANCED/KISSED THE QUAKER('S WIFE). AKA - "Quaker's Wife." AKA and see "The Legacy," "The Humours of Last Night," "Blithe Have I Been," "Wilke's Wrigle." Scottish, English; Jig. Irish, Slide. G Major (Bremner, Gow, Mitchell, Taylor/Tweed): D Major (Hardie, Johnson, Kerr, Sumner, Sweet). Standard. AB (Hardie): AABB (most versions): AABBCC (Mitchell, Taylor). A variant of "Merrily Kissed the Quaker('s Wife)." Phillips Barry, FSSNE, No. 11, pg. 13, traces the tune back to the 14th century plain‑chant, "on the authority of Wilhelm Tappert's curious little book Wandernde Melodien' (Bayard, 1981). Bayard thinks that "Merrily Danced" is either devolved from "The Mill Mill O" or that both tunes evolved from a single tune; thus, to him if Barry is right and one tune stemmed from the late Middle Ages, then logically so does the other. John Glen (1891) finds the earliest appearance of the melody in print in Robert Bremner's 1757 Collection of Scots Reels or Country Dances, and it also early appears in the 1768 Gillespie Manuscript of Perth. However, an earlier printing can be found in Rutherford’s Choice Collection of Sixty of the Most Celebrated Country Dances (London, 1750).


Francis O’Neill (1922) remarks: “For over a century the name ‘Merrily Kissed the Quaker’ has been associated with a tune or Special Dance in Ireland, but no song or verse relating thereto has been traced. In O'Farrell's Pocket Companion for the Irish or Union Pipes (1804-10), we find the tune with name annotated ‘New Sett Irish’ {ed. note: the ‘New Sett’ tune, given below, appears to be a different tune or so distorted or distantly related it may be considered a different tune}. Continuing the investigation we discover that ‘Merrily Dance the Quaker’ (probably the original tune) was printed in No. 7 of Bremer's Collections of Scots Reels, or Country Dances" issued in 1760. The traditional version in North Kerry taken from the Rice-Walsh manuscript serves to illustrate how far a tune may deviate from the original in a few generations.” The title appears in Henry Robson's list of popular Northumbrian song and dance tunes ("The Northern Minstrel's Budget"), which he published c. 1800. Merrily Danced the Quaker's Wife is also the name of a rather uncommon Scottish country dance.


The Quaker’s wife sat down to bake
With all her bairns about her.
She made them all a sugar cake,
And the miller he wants his mouter (i.e. a fee for grinding flour).
Sugar and spice and all things nice,
And all things very good in it,
And then the Quaker sat down to play
A tune upon the spinet.
Merrily danced the Quaker’s wife,
And merrily danced the Quaker
Merrily danced the Quaker’s wife,
And merrily danced the Quaker.


The melody was well-known in America at the time of the War for Independence where it was employed as both a quick march and dance tune. As a march, it was published in Captain Robert Hinde’s (1720-1786) Collection of Quick Marches (Hinde was the author of The Discipline of the Light-Horse, an authoritative work on the use of light cavalry, and very influential in the British army). It appears in Henry Beck’s manuscript copybook for the flue (1786) and (as “So Merrily Danced the Quakers”) in the music manuscript copybook of Henry Livingston, Jr. Livingston purchased the estate of Locust Grove, Poughkeepsie, New York, in 1771 at the age of 23. In 1775 he was a Major in the 3rd New York Regiment, which participated in Montgomery’s invasion of Canada in a failed attempt to wrest Montreal from British control. An important land-owner in the Hudson Valley, and a member of the powerful Livingston family, Henry was also a surveyor and real estate speculator, an illustrator and map-maker, and a Justice of the Peace for Dutchess County. He was also a poet and musician, and presumably a dancer, as he was elected a Manager for the New York Assembly’s dancing season of 1774-1775, along with his 3rd cousin, John Jay, later U.S. Chief Justice of Governor of New York.

Three (?) other songs mentioned:


Here's the information I was chasing. On the Athens (Ala.) Dulcimers website, David and Carolyn Bennett posted an account of their visit to the Mountain Music Museum in Bristol, Tenn.-Va., titled "Bob Mize & Maybelle Carter Dulcimer Connection" with a picture of a dulcimer Mize created for Mother Maybelle Carter. Included in the dulcimer picture is a placard reading, "The Appalachian dulcimer is based on the design of the German 'doran.' When the instrument makers of the region began building dulcimers, they forgot the original name and searched the Bible and came up with this name."

First I'd heard of an instrument called a "doran." So I searched the Internet and came up with -- "Dulcimer Dandy" and William Carleton's novel. Never did find what I was looking for!

Sunday, September 06, 2015

Nürnberg flash mob performs Schiller's Ode to Joy (Ode an die Freude) from Beethoven's Ninth

Watching coverage of the refugee crisis unfolding in Europe last night, I caught a glimpse of Syrian and Afghani migrants -- refugees -- crossing the border from Hungary into Austria. As they walked into an emergency transit station, local volunteers applauded them and I heard one singing Schiller's "Ode to Joy" from the fourth movement of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. Among its other accolades over the years, perhaps most notably the its performance in Berlin conducted by Leonard Bernstein when the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, it is an anthem of the European Union.

I couldn't find the video at the Austrian border again on the BBC News website, which is where I thought I'd seen it, so I tried searching under keywords like "Austria" and "Ode to Joy," and I found this flash mob instead. It was put up by Evenord-Bank eG-KG, a co-sponsor of the event featuring members of the Hans-Sachs Choir and Philharmonie Nürnberg.

It is utterly charming, especially the intro. If I say any more, I'll ruin it. Just watch.

Flashmob Nürnberg 2014 - Ode an die Freude

Thursday, September 03, 2015

"I Saw Three Ships" -- a carol for the Prairieland Strings' annual Advent supper performance

PLEASE NOTE: First of several posts getting ready for the Clayville-Prairieland Pioneer Academy of Music's annual Advent soup supper performance in December. Technically, I guess it's the second because I posted some YouTube clips of the "Cherry Tree Carol" to the blog last year. But who wants to get technical? (Mountain dulcimer tab in DAA and DAD tunings with guitar chords and lyrics by Ralph Lee Smith and Maddy McNeil available at

Ho ho ho ...

Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat ... please put a penny in the old man's hat.

When I was in the choir at Springfield College in Illinois, we'd start practicing Christmas anthems as soon as school began in September. So it feels like it's time for the Clayville-Prairieland Strings folks to start pulling together a holiday program. Atonement Lutheran Church, where we've been meeting, has voted to merge with two other parishes and a lot of details are up in the air, but as far as I know, the new blended parish will still have Advent soup suppers and we'll be invited to play.

If not, we can always find a nursing home. Or just go wassailing. "If you haven't got a penny, a ha'penny will do / If you haven't got a ha'penny, then God bless you!" And there's always the annual Christmas party at Clayville Historic Stagecoach Stop, which has been one of the highlights of the year for us.

We've had a couple of good suggestions already for the Advent program. One is the "Cherry Tree Carol." We sang it last year at Clayville, and there's a lovely southern Appalachian version available online. I'll post more about it soon.

Another Christmas song that we can arrange a little (kind of like we did last year with "Carol of the Bells") is a traditional English carol called "I Saw Three Ships." There's a nice "D-for-dulcimer" lead sheet available here that we can start with:

Let's learn it now, and when we've got it under our belts we can work out entrances, solos, etc.

There's detailed background on the Hymns and Carols of Christmas website, and some of it is fascinating. Check it out sometime. The song has been a cherished part of the English folk music scene for 150 years and more. As usual, Wikipedia has the basics:

"I Saw Three Ships (Come Sailing In)" is a traditional and popular Christmas carol from England. A variant of its parent tune "Greensleeves", the earliest printed version of "I Saw Three Ships" is from the 17th century, possibly Derbyshire, and was also published by William Sandys in 1833.

The lyrics mention the ships sailing into Bethlehem, but the nearest body of water is the Dead Sea about 20 miles (32 km) away. The reference to three ships is thought to originate in the three ships that bore the purported relics of the Biblical magi to Cologne Cathedral in the 12th century. Another possible reference is to Wenceslaus II, King of Bohemia, who bore a coat of arms "Azure three galleys argent". Another thought was the three kings that came to baby Jesus.

Plenty of video clips on YouTube. Here's one I especially like:

Trace Adkins and Alyth McCormack - "I Saw Three Ships" -- at the CMA Country Christmas concert in 2013. She's singing Scots Gaelic in the first verse.

Other YouTube clips, ranging from Paddy Maloney and the Chieftans, the King's College Cambridge boys' choir, the folk rock duo Blackmore's Night, pianist Jon Schmidt, Nat King Cole and a mind-blowing session guitarist from the U.K. named Robbie McIntosh, that might give us ideas we might want to adapt, steal or ignore altogether:

But where would the three ships dock?

Here is a picture of the actual landscape today around Bethlehem, which is located in the hills of Judea and surrounded by upland desert. Buildings in the background are a gated Israeli "settlement" in the occupied territories.

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Don Pedi's "Way of the Dulcimer" fall retreat -- w/ random thoughts on folk tradition bearers, A-modal fiddle tunes and murder ballads in western North Carolina

The bottom line, the main thing I would remember to play the traditional old music, ... it’s kind of like Zen. It’s not what you can add – it’s how much you can let go of and let drop away till you can get to the core of what the old people had. -- Don Pedi

LITTLE SWITZERLAND, N.C. -- Today's Appalachian dulcimer players strum modified guitar chords in a I-V-IV progression, but the dulcimer wasn't originally designed to produce chords. And traditional mountain music was always more about melody than chords. In fact Don Pedi, who has collected old-time fiddle tunes and played them on the dulcimer for 30 years, says the first guitar wasn't played by a western North Carolina string band musician until 1911.

"He was Luke Smathers," Don said at his fall retreat here over the weekend, "and he ordered it from Montgomery Ward."

Don's annual "Way of the Dulcimer" Fall Retreat was held Aug. 27-29 at Little Switzerland's Wildacres Retreat Center. Don had lots to say about traditional ways of playing mountain music, and the struggle to maintain them as more and more players use a "chord-melody" dulcimer style based on playing guitar chords in a "bum-ditty" pattern derived from folk musicians in the flatlands.

Following are some of my notes and random thoughts. I've done this before, beginning after Don's 2013 retreat. As before, I made no attempt to cover the main points of the retreat. Instead, I jotted down notes when subjects came up that especially interested me. As in 2013, my thoughts are more random than thoughtful.

Retreat group in Wildacres dining hall. Bobby McMillon is third from right, behind the table.

Bobby McMillon

A highlight of the retreat was a Saturday night concert featuring Don and traditional ballad singer and storyteller Bobby McMillon. A recipient of the North Carolina Folk Heritage Award, McMillon went to school with descendants of Tom Dula -- the "Tom Dooley" who killed poor Laurie Foster in the ballad made famous by the Kingston Trio -- and is himself descended from Laura Foster.

"Eventually, I began to realize," he says in a blurb copied to copied to Don Pedi's website, "that if I didn't perform the songs I was learning, most of the repertories of the people I learned from would be lost because they didn't have family members of their own to hand them down to."

I didn't record the concert, but I did locate a YouTube clip of Bobby McMillon and his singing partner Marina Trivette singing the old songs and recollecting the experiences that led them to become ballad singers.

A couple of North Carolina expressions need translation for flatlanders -- a "booger" is a local word for the boogieman, also an evil spirit in Cherokee folklore; and "painter" is the local pronunciation of "panther." The YouTube clip is from a film by Tom Davenport, independent documentary filmmaker and folklorist of North Carolina, at,96.

"Brushy Fork of John's Creek"

One of the tunes Don taught us was "Brushy Fork of John's Creek." His version is after Kentucky fiddler Fernando "Dandy" Lusk's, and he said it commemorates the last battle fought in Kentucky during the Civil War. has a lead sheet with guitar (and mandolin) chords in A Mixolydian (two sharps in the key signature, at F# and C#), and has lead sheet and chords in G Mixolydian (no sharps or flats). It's traditionally played in A Mixolydian, which gives it a dark sound appropriate to the waning days of the Civil War in a state where brother truly fought against brother.

Listen to it at in the Berea College library's digital collections.

It was recorded Jan. 6, 1977, by tune collector Bruce Greene, who often performs with Don and has cut CDs with him. Hiram Stamper played it, on a fiddle in the "cross key" AEAE tuning. And Don usually tunes his dulcimer EAA, which blends nicely with the fiddle in A modal tunings like AEAE.

But Don's tab gives fret numbers only, and he played it for us both in his preferred tuning and in DAD, which was a Mixolydian tuning before the dulcimer clubs took it over. Hey, everybody plays in DAD, and if dulcimer tab ever comes available for "Brushy Fork of John's Creek," I'll bet any amount of money they'll tab it in DAD or capo the dulcimer on the fourth fret and play it in A on the high end of the fretboard. That's what dulcimer clubs do, bless their hearts.

But if they do, they'll lose that dark sound of the old A modal fiddle tunes.

All of which got me to thinking: Traditional southern Appalachian fiddlers had all kinds of cross-key tunings for songs like "Brushy Fork ..." and "Bonaparte's Retreat," and there's a reason for that. Traditional dulcimer players retuned a lot, too, and I'll bet it was for the same reason -- in the open modal tunings, you get that darker, lower sound that comes from playing a drone on the open strings.

How the dulcimer got to Mountain View, Ark.

One of the most important instrument makers in the Midwest is McSpadden Dulcimers at Mountain View, in the Ozarks of northwest Arkansas. Don filled in an important piece of the instrument's history when he mentioned McKinley Craft, a Kentuckian who learned how to make dulcimers from Jethro Amburgey at Hindman Settlement School in Kentucky. Don said Craft swapped a dulcimer for a bottle of whiskey in Batesville, Ark. It turned out to be the model for Lynn McSpadden's first dulcimers.

In a 2003 oral history interview for the Arkansas Folk Festival and Ozark Folk Center, McSpadden recalled:

I got interested at one period [in the 1960s] in trying to document the use of the dulcimer in the Ozarks, and it never was great as it was in the Appalachian region or somewhere like that, but what I found was people - folklorists - who came through here researching folklore were basically interested in the lyrics and the music. They were not interested in the instruments that were being used. Through several contacts, I found out that there was an old fellow over at Leslie who had a dulcimer, so I took off to see him. He was a bootlegger, had made his living for years . . . It was way back in the sticks out of Leslie, and he had moved there from Kentucky in about 1920 - along in there somewhere - and his cousin, McKinley Craft back in Kentucky, had sent him a dulcimer or brought him a dulcimer, and he said that . . . Joe Craft told me that when he was young back in Kentucky that, if there was a band was going to play for a dance, there would be three instruments. There would be a fiddle, of course. There would be a banjo, and there would be a dulcimer. What’s missing is what everybody thinks of as the folk instrument now: the guitar.

But what got me thinking was when the interviewer asked McSpadden, "Were any of your ancestors involved in handicrafts or any kind of --"

McSpadden: No, I taught my dad how to make dulcimers.

[Interviewer]: Oh, is that right?

McSpadden: It would be nice if it were handed down through the generations, but I can’t come up with that story at all. ...

Instead, McSpadden said discovered the dulcimer as a divinity student at Duke -- another North Carolina connection! -- after he'd "gotten interested in folk music via the Peter, Paul, and Mary route." He said:

McSpadden: Oh, well. When I was a student at Duke University, Elliott Hancock was my roommate, and we both worked in the cafeteria, and he’d come in at night after finishing his work and eating, and sit down and play his guitar, and I thought, “Well. I’m going to defend myself. I’ve always liked the sound of a banjo.” So I went and bought a twenty dollar banjo at the pawn shop at Five Points in Durham, and I couldn’t tune the thing, and I certainly couldn’t play it. My fingers wouldn’t move in that direction. And I heard a friend from West Virginia, I guess - maybe Kentucky - was playing a record one night, and it had a dulcimer being played, and Billy Ed Wheeler, who was a semi-popular singer at the time, was singing and playing “Ash Grove,” and I thought, “Boy, that’s a nice sound,” you know. ...

Wheeler, of Swannanoa, is yet another North Carolina connection. Long associated with Warren Wilson College, he's best known perhaps for the novelty song "Ode to the Little Brown Shack Out Back" and a collection of Appalachian humor he co-edited with Loyal Jones of Berea College.

But I was struck by the way McSpadden stumbled onto traditional Appalachian music by listening to Peter, Paul and Mary as a divinity student at Duke. For a guy who stumbled onto the music as a grad student at the University of Tennessee, it's nice to know that one of the key players in the revival of traditional music in the Ozarks also got interested in it "via the Peter, Paul and Mary route" about the same time.


From Ken Watson video on Don's website: [2:10] The bottom line, the main thing I would remember to play the traditional old music, and being born in the time and the places we’re born, it’s kind of like Zen. It’s not what you can add – it’s how much you can let go of and let drop away till you can get to the core of what the old people had. Because they came from an agrarian culture where everything was felt; now we’re in technology world. Everything is thinking. And so it’s interesting. That’s it.

[2:46] And then I learned a lot directly from the old guys I’d meet around this part of the world and got those older sensibilities. I don’t learn from records or nothing. Mostly it’s from people. But, you know, it’s funny. ‘cause nowadays all these dulcimer people are saying ‘oh boy, you’ve got a good gimmick. But I’ve had a good gimmick for 30 years and when this ain’t popular any more, I’ll have the same gimmick. It’s just what I love, and it’s just what I do.