Three Kings

This cyclical partner song was written for a mixed adult and children’s choir and also has a simple instrumental bass line. I  took inspiration partly from the idea of wassails – songs of good health and blessings traditionally sung at the turn of the year – but also from the story of the Kings. I wanted to bring imagery and intent of the three kings story into the present  – to treat the Kings as archetypes that we can choose to embody as we travel with gifts into the year ahead.  The song has 2 main texts that can also be sung together.

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Aunt Mary

Stephen Hawker (1804 – 1875) Anglican clergyman, poet and antiquarian of Cornwall wrote this song to Modryh Marya or Aunt Mary – the Cornish title for the virgin Mary – mixing old secular winter symbolism of the holly bush with Catholic symbolism of Jesus’ blood.   “Parson Hawker”, as he was known to his parishioners, was something of an eccentric, both in his clothes and his habits. He loved bright colours and dressed in a claret-coloured coat, blue fisherman’s jersey, long sea-boots, a pink brimless hat and a poncho made from a yellow horse blanket. On the cliffs overlooking the Atlantic he built a small hut from driftwood. There he spent many hours writing poems and smoking opium.

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The Sang O Winter

This round was originally written in Scots, but there’s also a version in English available. The come on the same pdf file

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Shetland Prayer

I absolutely love this little song. The text is a traditional Shetland prayer and the tune is modal and haunting. Although it’s here in two part harmony I prefer it just in unison or with a solo voice.

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Lully, Lully

This is a short 2 verse little song in Scots based on a beautiful poem – the Day is Dune –  by William Souter, one of my favourite Scots poets.

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The Song of Winter

A 4 part round that celebrates warmth and friendship in winter. There is also a version of the same round in Scots available: The Sang o Winter

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Tis Winter Now

A cold wintery round that has a lovely echo feature as one part holds a note and the other sings against it. I found the text in an old Scottish Hymn book where it’s attributed to Samuel Longfellow.

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Over the Manger of My Heart

The Scots writer Maureen Sangster sent my sister a Christmas card with this exquisitely simple poem on it: Star above the manger of the heart. This phrase seeded the inspiration for this simple but beautiful round.

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