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Merry Met Virtual Traveller
There is something very evocative about listening to a church choir whilst standing in a dark churchyard with the moon above amongst wispy clouds. The comfort of the voices in the velvet night as they sing in harmony together. The light through stained glass windows inviting you in out of the cold.
Churches have long been used as community spaces in which to sing and worship. The first church built in England dates to the 6th century but the first recorded song is attributed secular origins.
It was recorded in the 13th century and is called ‘Sumer is icumen in’ or Summer has come in. It celebrates the life that summer has brought with it, the first cuckoo, the lambs in the field and it even, amusingly, mentions a farting goat - a singing in of the season.
We sing in the season in winter too, with Yuletide and Christmas carols, and in this way we sing back the light into the world in the darkest days of winter.
There is a strong link between singing and storytelling and in fact many bards would have been expected to be able to do both. The ballad is a particular type of storytelling, which many would have indulged in.
At some of my shows I like to try and get people singing if I can and in the roundhouse at Butser Ancient Farm, with everyone joining in with the chorus, the sound is glorious. Singing draws people together and creates community.
One of my favourite ‘carols’ is In The Bleak Midwinter, which is in fact originally a poem by Christina Rossetti. It appeared in 1872 in Scribner’s Monthly. It was Gustav Holt that set the poem to music.
This wintertide I hope you will gather together to sing, whether it be in your kitchen, with your local choir or at midnight mass on Christmas Eve, sing in the light.