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A Celtic Christmas

Sunday December 10, 2017, 2PM
Rockport Opera House
6 Central Street
Rockport, Maine

  1. Wexford Carol | arr. John Rutter
  2. How Beauteous Are Their Feet | Charles Villiers Stanford
  3. Christmas Day Is Come | Michael McGlynn
  4. The Gartan Mother’s Lullaby | arr. Desmond Earley
  5. Mo Ghile Mear | arr. Desmond Earley
  6. The Skye Boat Song | arr. Desmond Earley
  7. Suantraí ár Slánaitheora | F. O’Cearbhaill
  8. Cró na Nollag | Eunan Mc Donald
  9. Child In A Manger | arr. John Rutter
  10. Sleepsong | arr. Desmond Earley
  11. Sans Day Carol | arr. John Rutter
  12. A Gaelic Blessing | arr. John Rutter
  13. The Parting Glass | arr. Desmond Earley
  14. Deck the Hall | David Willcocks

Program Notes, Texts and Translations

Celtic music embraces a very wide variety of musical culture. In our concert we are paying homage to the folk music traditions of Ireland, Scotland and Wales. But we are also honoring such famous classical composers as Charles Villiers Stanford (born in Dublin 1852 – died in London 1924).

Musicologist Alan Stivell distinguishes two subgroups of Celtic music: “Gaelic” which includes Irish, Scottish and Manx, and “Brythonic,” whose members include Breton, Welsh and Cornish languages. Regardless of family, Celtic languages are nearly impenetrable to English speakers in terms of meaning or pronunciation since the spelling system is not phonetic.

Due to the complexities of the Celtic languages we perform most of the concert in English. For the Irish lyrics we are totally indebted to Professor Desmond Earley, Artistic Director of the Choral Scholars of University College, Dublin, Ireland. Dr. Earley has devoted part of his sabbatical leave to working with our singers to help them with pronunciation, interpretation and understanding of the lyrics they sing. We use the term “Irish” because, even though Scottish and Welsh Celtic are similar, Irish independence has allowed Ireland to promote “Irish” music as a distinct language. And the term “Irish” has become something like a label for a national culture.

Celtic musical styles are, of course, not limited to the British Isles. The enormous emigration to the United States of Scottish, Irish and Welsh peoples has had a formative impact on American musical culture, particularly bluegrass and country music. In a broader sense, the musics of Wales, Cornwall, Isle of Man, Brittany, Galicia, Cantabria and Asturias (Spain), and Portugal are also considered Celtic, the tradition being particularly strong in Brittany, where Celtic festivals are held throughout the year, and in Wales, where the ancient eisteddfod tradition has been revived in recent years. The provinces of Atlantic Canada are alive with Celtic music festivals, particularly on the islands of Newfoundland, Cape Breton and Prince Edward Island.

Wexford Carol, arranged by John Rutter, is a traditional Irish Christmas carol published in 1981. It is one of the oldest extant Christmas carols in the European tradition. The song achieved a renewed popularity due to the work of William Grattan Flood (1859–1928), who was organist and music director of St. Aidan’s Cathedral in Enniscorthy. He transcribed the carol from a local singer and had it published in the Oxford Book of Carols

Good people all, this Christmastime,
Consider well and bear in mind
What our good God for us has done,
In sending his beloved Son.
With Mary holy we should pray
To God with love this Christmas Day;
In Bethlehem upon that morn
There was a blessed Messiah born.
The night before that happy tide
The noble Virgin and her guide
Were long time seeking up and down
To find a lodging in the town.
But mark how all things came to pass:
From every door repelled, alas!
As long foretold, their refuge all
Was but an humble oxen stall.
Near Bethlehem did shepherds keep
Their flocks of lambs and feeding sheep;
To whom God’s angels did appear,
Which put the shepherds in great fear.
‘Prepare and go’, the angels said,
‘To Bethlehem, be not afraid;
For there you’ll find, this happy morn,
A princely babe, sweet Jesus born.’
With thankful heart and joyful mind
The shepherds went the babe to find,
And as God’s angel had foretold,
They did our Savior Christ behold.
Within a manger he was laid,
And by his side, the virgin maid,
Attending on the Lord of life,
Who came to earth to end all strife.
Good people all…

Irish composer Charles Villiers Stanford’s brief motet “How Beauteous Are Their Feet” is subtitled “Short Anthem for Saints’ Days.” The words are by Isaac Watts. Born to a wealthy and highly musical family, Stanford was educated at the University of Cambridge before studying music in Leipzig and Berlin. He was instrumental in raising the status of the Cambridge Musical Society, attracting international stars to perform with it.

While still an undergraduate, Stanford was appointed organist of Trinity College, Cambridge. In 1882, at age 29, he was one of the founding professors of the Royal College of Music, where he taught composition for the rest of his life. From 1887 he was also Professor of Music at Cambridge University. As a teacher, he was skeptical about modernism, and based his instruction chiefly on classical principles as exemplified in the music of Brahms. Among his pupils were rising composers such as Gustav Holst and Ralph Vaughan Williams.

How beauteous are their feet,
Who stand on Sion’s hill,
Who bring salvation on their tongues,
And words of peace instill!
How happy are our ears
That hear this joyful sound,
Which kings and prophets waited for,
And sought, but never found!
How blessed are our eyes
That see this heavenly light!
Prophets and kings declared it long,
But died without the sight.
The Lord makes bare his arm
Through all the earth abroad;
Let every nation now behold
Their Savior and their God.

Christmas Day Is Come. Michael McGlynn (born 1964, Dublin) is an Irish composer, producer, director and founder of Arúna. He attended Coláiste na Rinne and Blackrock College. He was a student of Music and English at University College Dublin and Trinity College. He was a member of the RTE Chamber Choir and in 1987 founded the Irish choral group Arúna. That group has released fourteen albums, almost exclusively featuring his arrangements and original works. Arúna: Celtic Origins was the biggest selling world music CD in the USA in August 2007 according to Nielsen Soundscan and remained in the top twenty albums of the Billboard Music Charts until early 2008. Although best known as a writer of choral music, McGlynn has written orchestral and instrumental works as well as cantatas and masses. 2007 saw the premiere of the cantata St. Francis commissioned by RTE, the Irish National Broadcasting station. It is a setting of texts associated with Francis of Assisi for tenor, choir and symphony orchestra. The album Behind the Closed Eye is a collaboration with the Ulster Orchestra, Northern Ireland’s premier orchestra.

McGlynn has written music for theater, including the Adrian Noble/Cusack family production of Anton Chekhov’s Three Sisters at the Gate Theater, Dublin, and the Royal Court, London. He is also a vocal and choral clinician, working recently at the University of Miami (USA), Sumida Hall (Japan) and Festival 500 in Newfoundland (Canada). He was an Eminent Scholar at Florida Atlantic University in 2011–2012. McGlynn’s music has been recorded and performed by such internationally recognized performers and ensembles as Rajaton, Dawn Upshaw, the National Youth Choir of Great Britain, The Dale Warland Singers, the Phoenix Choral, Conspirare, the BBC Singers and Chanticleer.

Christmas day is come, let us prepare for mirth,
Which fills the heavens and earth at his amazing birth,
And you, O glorious star, that with new splendor brings
From the remotest parts three eastern kings.
Cease you blessed angels clamorous joys to make:
Though midnight silence favors, shepherds are awake;
And you, O glorious star, that with new splendor brings
From the remotest parts three learned eastern kings.
Gloria in excelsis Deo, Gloria…
Christmas is in glory, all torment past.
What ’ere betide us now grant us the same at last.
Through both thy joyous angels in strife and hurry fly,
With glory and hosanna they cry
Gloria in excelsis Deo, Gloria.

The Gartan Mother’s Lullaby, arranged by Desmond Earley, is a traditional Irish tune. The 1904 collection of folksongs entitled Songs of Uladh is a collaborative gathering of ballads from the north of Ireland by the Belfast-born poet Seosamh Mac Cathmhaoil (1879–1944) and Belfast-born musician Herbert Hughes (1882–1937). Mac Cathmhaoil and Hughes’s songbook is the source, often overlooked, of many universally admired songs such as “My Lagan Love” and “The Gartan Mother’s Lullaby.” According to the harpist Mary O’Mara in her book A Song for Ireland, Gartan is “famous as the birthplace of Columcille (c 521 AD) who gave the city of Derry its name and who is better known as the founder of a Christian outpost on the Island of Iona off the west coast of Scotland. Collected by Mac Cathmhaoil from a Donegal woman called Cáit Ni Dubhthaigh, “The Gartan Mother’s Lullaby” exhibits characters and images from Gaelic mythology throughout the narrative of this gentle song. Aoibheall from the Grey Rock — also known as “Aoibhinn the Beautiful” — is Queen of the northern fairies, the Aos Sí, a supernatural race said to live underground in Irish and Scottish mythology. Siabhra, mentioned in the second verse of the song, is the generic word for a fairy of any kind, but refers here to the atmospheric ghost creature that frequents the bogs and marshes.

Sleep, oh babe, for the red bee hums
The silent twilight’s fall:
Aobheall from the grey rock comes
To wrap the world in thrall.
A leanbhán, O my child, my joy,
My love and heart’s desire.
The crickets sing you lullaby
Beside the dying fire.

Dusk is drawn, and the Green Man’s Thorn
Is wreathed in rings of fog:
Siabhra sails his boat till morn
Upon the Starry Bog.
A leanbhán O, the paley moon
His ringed her cusp in dew,
And weeps to hear the sad sweet song
I sing, my love, to you.

Faintly sweet doth the chapel bell
Ring o’er the valley dim:
Tearmann’s peasant voices swell
In fragrant evening hymn.
A leanbhán O, the low bell rings
My little lamb to rest,
And angel dreams till morning sings
Its music in your head.

Mo Ghile Mear, arranged by Desmond Earley, is a text written by the eighteenth-century poet Seán Clárach Mac Dómhnaill. It is a traditional allegorical song — similar to the Gaelic poetic form of the Aisling — in which the poet laments the departure of Prince Charles Edward Stuart (Bonnie Prince Charlie). As is customary, the poetic text portrays the land in decline in his absence. The drum used in this arrangement is the Irish single-headed frame drum, the bodhrán.


‘Sé mo laoch mo ghile mear
‘Sé mo Shaesar, ghile mear,
Ni fhuaras féin aon tsuan ná séan,
Ó chuaigh i gcéin mo ghille mear.

Bimse buan ar buairt gach ló,
Ag caoi go crua is ag tuar na ndeor
Mar scaoileadh uaim an buachaill beo
Is ná riomhtar tuairisc uaidh, mo bhrón.


Ni haoibhinn cuach ba suairc ar neoin
Táid fiorchoin uasal ar uaithne sport
Táid saoite suaite i mbuairt’s i mbrón
Ó scaoleadh uaim an buachaill beo.


Is cosúil é le hAonghus Óg,
Le Lughaidh Mac Chéin na mbéimeann mór,
Le Cú Raoi, ardmhac Dáire an óir,
Taoiseach Éireann tréan ar tóir.


Le Conall Cearnach bhearnadh poirt,
Le Fearghas fiúntach fionn Mac Róigh
Le Conchubhar cáidhmhac Náis na nós,
Taoiseach aoibhinn Chraobhe an cheoil.



My dashing darling is my hero
My dashing darling is my Caesar
I have had neither sleep nor good fortune
Since my dashing darling went far away.

I am perpetually worried every day
Wailing heavily and shedding tears
Since my lively boy was released from me
And there is no word of him, alas.


The pleasure of the cheerful cuckoo at noon is gone
The affable nobility are not bothered with sport
The learned and the cultured are worried and sad
Since the lively lad was taken from me.


He is like Young Aonghus
Like Lughaidth Mac Chéin of the great blows
Like Cú Raoi, great son of Dáire of the gold
Leader of Éire strong in pursuit.


Like Conall Cearnach who breached defences
Like worthy fair haired Feargas Mac Róigh
Like Conchubhar venerable son of Nas of the tradition
The pleasant chieftain of the musical Fenian Branch.


The Skye Boat Song, arranged by Desmond Earley, was first published in London as part of a collection entitled Songs of North (1884). The song recounts the escape of Bonnie Prince Charlie from Uist to the Isle of Skye following his defeat at the Battle of Culloden in 1746. With lyrics written by Sir Harold Boulton to a tune entitled Cuachag nan Craobh, this song is typically sung as a lullaby. Versions of the song by The Corries, Sir James Galway and The Chieftains, Julian Lloyd Webber, and other artists have reinforced its status as one of the best-known songs of Scotland. The television composer Bear McCreary adapted the tune to the text of Robert Louis Stevenson’s poem Sing Me a Song of a Lad That Is Gone for the television series Outlander. More recently, a version of this arrangement was commissioned by Nigel Short for his London-based ensemble, Tenebrae. This arrangement is dedicated to his daughter, Ella.

Speed, bonnie boat, like a bird on the wing, Onward! the sailors cry;
Carry the lad that’s born to be King over the sea to Skye.
Loud the winds howl, loud the waves roar, Thunderclouds rend the air;
Baffled, our foes stand by the shore, Follow they will not dare.

Though the waves leap, soft shall ye sleep, Ocean’s a royal bed.
Rocked in the deep, Flora will keep watch by your weary head.

Many’s a lad fought on that day, Well the claymore could wield,
When the night came, silently lay Dead on Culloden’s field.

Burned are the homes; exile and death, Scatter the loyal men;
Yet ere the sword cool in the sheath Charlie will come again.

Suantraí ár Slánaitheora (The Savior’s Lullaby) by F. ÓCearbhaill. Fiontán Ó Cearbhaill (1922–1981) was born in Wexford and moved to Waterford as a child. He was employed as a railway clerk for 27 years, gaining his B.Mus. from Trinity College Dublin through evening study. Shortly afterwards he secured a post as music teacher in the Presentation Convent Secondary School, Waterford, which he held until his death. In addition to his work as a schoolteacher, he was an active musician, teaching violin and music theory privately, conducting three brass bands and leading a theater orchestra. He held the post of organist and choirmaster in a number of churches in Waterford and latterly at the Cathedral of the Most Holy Trinity. He was a founding member of the Irish Church Music Association and was for many years editor of and a regular contributor to the association’s magazine, Hosanna.

Seothó, seothúlo.

Mo ghaol, mo ghrá ‘gus m’éadáil thú!
Mo stóirin úr is m’fhéirín thú!
Mo mhacán áluinn scéimheach thú.
Chan fiú mé féin bheith id’ dháil.

Ba mhórshólás is iontas é
Ag aoirí bocht’ ar leac an tslé’
Nuair chuala siad Cór Aingeal Dé:
“Tá’n Slánaitheoir ar an saol.”

Is tú grian gheal an dóchais bhuan
A léiríonn dúinn an bóthar cúng,
A shaorann sin ó bhrón ‘s ó bhuairt
Led ghrá ‘s led ghrásta trócaireach.

Cé gur leanbh díblí thú
Cinnt’ is Rí na Ríthe thú,
An t-oighre dlítheach fíor is tú
Ar Ríocht Dé na ngrást.

The Savior’s Lullaby

Lullaby, go to sleep now.

You are my son, my love and my treasure!
My newborn gift, my darling little one!
My delightful handsome little son.
I am not worthy to be with you.

Poor shepherds on the mountainside
Were consoled by this great wonder
As they heard a Choir of Angels sing:
“The Savior is born.”

You are the sun of eternal hope
Who lights our way on the narrow path,
Who frees us from trouble and sorrow
With Your love and merciful grace.

You are just a helpless child,
Yet you are the King of Kings,
The true and rightful heir
To the graces of the Kingdom of God.

Traditional Scottish translated by Seán Óg Ó Tuama (1979)
English translation by Bernadette McIntyre (2012)

Cró na Nollag (Christmas Scene) by Eunan Mc Donald was written in 2007 The lyrics are by Uinseann Mac Domhnaill. The composer is the Director of the Irish Youth Training Choir in Dublin, the Musical Director of the Young Voice Choir at Music Generation, and Director of the Frascati Singers in Blackrock, County Dublin. He started singing as a child with The Palestrina Choir in Dublin and has been immersed in choral music both in Ireland and abroad ever since. He performs regularly with The Keynotes and Resurgam, and has been a member of The National Chamber Choir of Ireland (formerly RTE Chamber Choir), Lord of the Dance, Riverdance, The Sunbeams Barbershop Quartet, Christchurch Cathedral Choir and The Choir of St. Teresa’s, Clarendon St. to name but a few.

In 2005 he toured throughout North America as Choral Director of Celtic Woman, the internationally acclaimed show. He has in recent years turned his hand to music composition with some success. Since 2007 he has been Section Leader to the bass lines of Irish Youth Choir and Ulster Youth Choir and Senior Section Leader to the National Youth Training Choirs of Great Britain. He also continues to work as a freelance singer, conductor and teacher of mathematics, singing and choirs at Blackrock College, Holy Child Killiney and St. Columba’s College.

Cró na Nollag ins an oiche,
BhFeicean tú an leanbh losa,
Réalt ag soiliú ‘nuas go righeal,
Rí na Cruinne ar an tsaol.
Glór na aingeal oiche naofa,
Síochan Ch´ôst ar na milte
Lúli, Lúlé…
An leanbh losa ina lui,
Muire Maithair ‘tá guí,
Sin é lósaf lena taobh,
Mór ab aoibhneas ar a chroí.
Fáilte’s fial roimh Rí na Rithe,
Fáilte ‘ris is fáilte choí’.
Lúlí, lúlé…

The Christmas stable in the night,
Do you see the infant Jesus,
A Star shining from above,
The King of the Universe is born.
The voice of angels this holy night,
The peace of Christ to everyone.
Baby Jesus lying still,
Mother Mary deep in prayer,
Joseph there by her side,
His heart filled with joy.
Welcome now, King of Kings,
Welcome forever.

John Rutter’s Child in a Manger, published in 1982, is an arrangement of a traditional Celtic Christmas carol.

Child in a manger,
Jesus our Savior,
Born of a virgin hold and mild;
Sent from the highest,
Come down in glory;
Tell the glade Story,
Welcome the child.

Shepherds, arise now,
Go to the manger;
Find where the infant Jesus is late
Offer your homage
Kneel down before him;
Praise and adore him,
Be not afraid.

Wise men, come seek him
Christ, our Redeemer;
Journey to Bethlehem,
Led by a Star.
Offer you treasures:
Gold, myrrh, and in cense,
Precious oblations
Brought from a far.
Praise to the Christchild;
Praise to his mother;
Glory to God our Father above
Angels are singing songs of rejoicing,
Greeting the infant
Born of God's Love.

Sleepsong, words by Brendan Graham, music by Rolf Løvland, arranged by Desmond Earley. The lyrics of Sleepsong came to Brendan Graham on the night before his youngest daughter, Alana, was to leave Ireland for Australia in 2004: “Sitting at her bedside, as I did so often when she was a child, the years seemed to roll away and I was back there in the past, telling her stories and singing lullabies. As I walked back down the corridor to my study the song unfolded itself to me.” Sleepsong is a lullaby for an older child that mingles a father’s hopeful wishes with the longing brought about by the departure of a loved one. Written to a melody by Rolf Løvland, Sleepsong was first recorded for the Secret Garden album Earthsongs (2005).

(For Alana...Child of the Universe, now.)

Lay down your head,
And I’ll sing you a lullaby- Back to the years,
Of loo-li lai-lay
And I’ll sing you to sleep... Sing you tomorrow... Bless you with love,
For the road that you go.

May you sail fair...
To the far fields of fortune, With diamonds and pearls, At your head and your feet: And may you need never, To banish misfortune:
May you find kindness... In all that you meet.

May there always be angels to watch over you, To guide you each step of the way:
To guard you and keep you, safe from all harm, Loo-li, loo-li, lai-lay.

May you bring love...
And may you bring happiness: Be loved in return,
To the end of your days:
Now fall off to sleep,
I’m not meaning to keep you, I’ll just sit for a while,
And sing loo-li, lai-lay

May there always be angels to watch over you, To guide you each step of the way:
To guard you and keep you, safe from all harm, Loo-li, loo-li, lai-lay...

Loo-li, loo-li, lai-lay.

Sans Day Carol is Cornish in origin. John Rutter, the arranger, writes, “The name in the title of this charming folk-carol is a corruption of ‘St. Day,’ a village in Cornwall where in the early middle ages there was a shrine to the Breton saint variously known as St. Dei or St. They. According to the 1928 Oxford Book of Carols a local antiquarian, Canon G.H. Doble, noted down the carol in the twentieth century from the singing of an old man in St. Day, and drew it to the attention of the editors of the Oxford Book of Carols, who published it in that book. The editors of the New Oxford Book of Carols (1992), who have similarly included it, point out that the dotted rhythm in the first two bars may not accurately reflect the original singer’s rhythm; yet it gives the melody a pleasing buoyancy and ‘lift’ which is worth preserving. The text combines pagan and Christian imagery in a similar way to The Holly and the Ivy, and its references to the Crucifixion and Resurrection make the carol equally appropriate to Passiontide and Easter as to Christmas.”

Notes by John Rutter, © Oxford University Press, 2015. Reproduced by permission of Oxford University Press.

  1. Now the holly bears a berry as white as the milk,
    And Mary she bore Jesus, who was wrapped up in silk:

    Chorus: And Mary she bore Jesus our Savior for to be,
    And the first tree that's in the greenwood, it was the holly.
    Holly! Holly!
    And the first tree that's in the greenwood, it was the holly!

  2. Now the holly bears a berry as green as the grass,
    And Mary she bore Jesus, who died on the cross:


  3. Now the holly bears a berry as black as the coal,
    And Mary she bore Jesus, who died for us all:


  4. Now the holly bears a berry, as blood is it red,
    Then trust we our Saviour, who rose from the dead:


A Gaelic Blessing by John Rutter takes its text from William Sharp’s The Dominion of Dreams (1909). It was long believed to be a translation of an ancient Gaelic original but is now known to be the work of the Scottish author and poet William Sharp (1855–1905) who sometimes wrote under the pseudonym Fiona MacLeod. He was an apostle of the Celtic revival, a member of William Butler Yeats’s circle, and the literary source of Rutland Boughton’s once popular opera The Immortal Hour. The Gaelic Blessing text is part of a longer poem beginning “Deep peace I breathe into you,” which forms the conclusion of a short story The Amadan, first published in 1895 under Sharp’s pseudonym. The composer added the line, “Moon and stars pour their healing light on you” to suit the meter of the musical setting.

Program note by John Rutter, © The Royal School of Church Music 2016. Reproduced by permission of Oxford University Press.

Deep peace of the running wave to you,
Deep peace of the flowing air to you,
Deep peace of the quiet earth to you,
Deep peace of the shining stars to you!
Deep peace of the gentle night to you,
Moon and stars pour their healing light on you,
Deep peace of Christ the light of the world to you,
Deep peace of Christ to you.

The Parting Glass is a Scottish song, arranged by Desmond Earley. This song has its origins in the early seventeenth century Scottish song, “Good Night and God Be with You,” which used a tune different from the contemporary setting. A version published by Henry Playford (Henry Purcell’s publisher) in the Collection of Original Scotch Tunes shows similarities to the contemporary melody. The tune was often played at the close of gatherings in Scotland. Many of the original seventeenth-century lyrics from “Neighbours farewell to his friends” have been recast, although the couplet “And all I’ve done for want of wit/ To memory now I can’t recall” survives in the modern version of the song. At the end of the eighteenth century, Robert Burns used the older tune to set his poem “Adieu, a heart-warm, fond adieu,” and in 1821 Sir Walter Scott published a variant of the song entitled “Armstrong’s Goodnight.” A text from an early nineteenth-century Glasgow source, now at the National Library of Scotland, closely resembles the modern song. Between 1840 and 1860 a variant of the song was published in Ireland as “The Parting Glass.” The modern tune first appears as “Sweet Cootehill Town” in an early twentieth-century collection of Irish songs entitled Old Irish Folk Music and Songs. It was this Irish melody that nudged aside the original Scottish tune to become one of the most popular ballads in recent history.

Oh, all the money that e’er I had,
I spent it in good company,
And of all the harm that e’er I’ve done,
Alas it was to none but me,
And all I’ve done for want of wit
To my memory now I can’t recall;
So fill to me a parting glass,
Goodnight and joy be with you all.

Of all the comrades that e’er I had,
They’re sorry now for my going away;
And of all the sweethearts that e’er I’ve had
They would wish me one more day to stay.
But since it falls unto my lot
That I should rise and you should not,
I’ll gently rise and softly call,
Goodnight and joy be with you all.

A man may drink and not be drunk;
A man may fight and not be slain;
A man may court a pretty girl,
And perhaps be welcomed home again.
But since it has so ordered been
A time to rise and a time to fall,
Fill to me your parting glass,
Goodnight and joy be with you all.

Deck the Hall is a traditional Welsh Christmas carol, arranged by David Willcocks. It dates back to the sixteenth century. Its original title in Welsh was “Nos Galan.” The English lyrics were written by the Scottish musician Thomas Oliphant in 1862 and were published in volume 2 of Welsh Melodies. The repeated “fa la la” goes back to the earlier Welsh and may originate from medieval ballads.

Deck the hall with boughs of holly, Fa la la la...
’Tis the season to be jolly, Fa la la la…
Fill the mead cup, drain the barrel, Fa la la la…
Troll the ancient Christmas carol, Fa la la la…
See the flowing bowl before us, Fa la la la…
Strike the harp and join the chorus, Fa la la la…
Follow me in merry measure, Fa la la la…
While I sing of beauty’s treasure, Fa la la la…
Fast away the old year passes, Fa la la la…
Hail the new, ye lads and lasses, Fa la la la…
Laughing, quaffing, all together, Fa la la la…
Heedless of the wind and weather, Fa la la la…

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