Here is another traditional Scottish folk song, called “The Bluebells of Scotland.” Dora Jordan, an English actress and writer, wrote this song, which was first published in 1801. It remains popular today, both in Scotland and elsewhere.
I hope you enjoy hearing this lovely melody on zither!
Yes, I know that Christmas is either over, or hasn’t arrived yet, depending on how you look at it! But, today is Three Kings Day, when the Adoration of the Magi is celebrated in many countries. Children wake up this morning to find they have received gifts from the Three Kings. It sounds like a fun celebration to me!
This well-known carol was written in 1857. The melody and lyrics were both written by John Henry Hopkins, Jr., with the lyrics based on Matthew 2:1, which reads: “Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem,[.]”
–King James Version (KJV)
I love the refrain! I also hope you enjoy listening to “We Three Kings” played on alto recorder, viola, and zither!
Here is a 17th-century French Christmas carol that is still sung today. The French title is “Un flambeau, Jeannette, Isabelle,” and it was translated into English in the 18th century. Originating in the Provence region of France, it was not meant to be sung at Christmas, but was considered dance music for the French nobility.
In the lyrics, two farm girls, Jeanette and Isabella, find the Christ Child with his mother in the stable. The song describes how one should speak quietly and see how the baby is peacefully sleeping, enjoying his dreams. Then, they rush to a nearby village to share the news of His birth, and everyone comes to see the baby. To this day in the Provence region, children dress as shepherds and milkmaids and sing this carol on their way to Midnight Mass, carrying torches and candles.
My arrangement contains alto recorder and zither and is played as a lullaby rather than a dance tune. I hope you enjoy it! Have a safe, peaceful, blessed, and very Merry Christmas!
This is a German folk song, urging children to “Get up!” (Auf) on Christmas morning and celebrate the Christ Child. I couldn’t find more information about it, except the lyrics, which I couldn’t remember well enough to sing. However, this is a beautiful melody, and I hope you enjoy hearing it on zither, viola, and alto recorder!
William Chatterton Dix wrote the lyrics to this well-known Christmas carol in 1865, after undergoing both a severe illness and a spiritual renewal. His lyrics were later set to the traditional English folk song, “Greensleeves,” the melody we still sing today–but typically with some accidentals added. “What Child Is This?” is more popular in the United States than in Great Britain today.
Here is the traditional tune, without the accidentals, played on lyre and zither simultaneously. This is another Double Strung Experiment
that is especially beautiful at this time of year.
This song needs no introduction. 🙂 But, for the sake of completeness, here is a little background. The author of this traditional English carol is unknown. It’s been sung by carolers, wassailers, and mummers since the 19th century, and perhaps earlier. The organist and composer Arthur Warrell popularized this carol. He arranged it for the University of Bristol Madrigal Singers as a very elaborate four-part harmony arrangement, which they performed in 1935. The song remains popular today, both in the United Kingdom and the United States.
I hope you enjoy this arrangement, played on zither, viola, and alto recorder! And I wish you a merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
“The Friendly Beasts” is a traditional Christmas song. Though some sources say it’s an english carol, the melody is actually French. It’s the 12th-century melody of the Latin song, “”Orientis Partibus”. Robert Davis wrote the current English lyrics in the 1920’s.
In my arrangement, the donkey is represented by zither. Viola represents the cow. The doves are represented by melody and harmony on alto recorder, and the sheep is represented by lyre. In addition, verses 3 and 4 (cow and doves) are accompanied by ukulele.
“The Holly and the Ivy” is a traditional British folk Christmas carol. However, it is more popular in the United States than in England. Though the song can only be traced as far as the early 19th century, the association of holly with Christmas dates back as far as Medieval times, if not earlier. The carol varied throughout traditional communities, and the standardized version we know today was first published in 1909, in a folk song collection by Cecil Sharp.
This is another double strung experiment, where I play lyre and zither at the same time. I.e. the instruments are not mixed, but are played together in real-time. In my last double strung experiment post,
I said the next time you heard something with 2 rows of strings, it would be a real double strung harp. However, the harp won’t arrive until sometime next year (hopefully), and I really wanted to play something for Christmas. Ever since the first time I heard a double strung harp, with its ringing sound, I thought it would be especially beautiful at Christmastime.
I hope you enjoy “The Holly and the Ivy” on lyre and zither! I know I’ve enjoyed playing it!