If you buy my music, I will make more.

If you liked the Twelve Days project and you’d like to support me in making more music, the album is now available to purchase from Bandcamp. You can pay as little or as much you like, and you can download the music in a variety of formats (including FLAC and .ogg). The recordings themselves are still under a CC BY-SA license, so having downloaded the album you can put it on USB drives and give it to all your friends or even burn it to CD if you want to. You can also make derivative works, whether that’s using the music as a soundtrack for video, using it in liturgy in some way or a mash-up with your favourite banjo track. As long as I’m attributed, you’re free to do what you like with it.

If you buy my music, I will make more.


Twelve Drummers Drumming

I wonder if the “true love” in the song remembered to get a gift receipt.

Image from http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Vitraj_Crkva_Gospe_Trsatske_2.jpg

I was feeling indecisive, so you get something of a baker’s dozen. Think of the second track as a sort of bonus track, or save it for the Epiphany tomorrow. Either way is good.

I wasn’t planning on singing this first one, but the tune for this American version of the Joys of Mary is fantastically haunting. I’d love to do it again properly when I have a bit more time.

https://player.soundcloud.com/player.swf?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F32165111%3Fsecret_token%3Ds-rcCEW&secret_url=true The Blessings of Mary by artsyhonker

The very first blessing that Mary had, it was the blessing of one:
To think that her Son, Jesus, could live a father’s son;
Could live a father’s son; like Emmanuel in glory
Father, Son and the Holy Ghost, through all eternity.

The very next blessing Mary had, it was the blessing of two:
To think that her Son, Jesus, could read the Scriptures through;

The very next blessing Mary had, it was the blessing of three:
To think that her Son, Jesus, could set the sinner free;

The very next blessing Mary had, it was the blessing of four:
To think that her Son, Jesus, could live for evermore;

The very next blessing Mary had, it was the blessing of five:
To think that her Son, Jesus, could bring the dead alive;

The very next blessing Mary had, it was the blessing of six:
To think that her Son, Jesus, could heal and cure the sick

The very next blessing Mary had, it was the blessing of seven:
To think that her Son, Jesus, could conquer hell and heaven

The very next blessing Mary had, it was the blessing of eight:
To think that her Son, Jesus, could make the crooked straight;

The very next blessing Mary had, it was the blessing of nine:
To think that her Son, Jesus, could turn water into wine;

The very next blessing Mary had, it was the blessing of ten:
To think that her Son, Jesus, could write without a pen;

The next tune is also American, arranged by William Walker. The words to the first verse are anonymous; the rest are by Reginald Heber, and you might know a very different tune to “Brightest and best of the songs of the morning.”

https://player.soundcloud.com/player.swf?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F32155542%3Fsecret_token%3Ds-MVEtM&secret_url=true Hail the blest morn by artsyhonker

Hail the blest morn! See the great Mediator
Down from the regions of glory descend!
Shepherds, go worship the Babe in the manger!
Lo! for his guard the bright angels attend.
Brightest and best of the songs of the morning,
Dawn on our darkness and lend us thine aid;
Star in the East, the horizon adorning,
Guide where our infant Redeemer was laid!

Cold on his cradle the dewdrops are shining,
Low lies his bed with the beasts of the stall;
Angels adore him, in slumber reclining,
Wise men and shepherds before him do fall.

Say shall we yield him, in costly devotion,
Odours of Edom and offerings divine,
Gems of the mountain and pearls of the ocean,
Myrrh from the forest and gold from the mine?

Vainly we offer each ample oblation,
Vainly with gold would his favour secure;
Richer by far is the heart’s adoration,
Dearer to God are the prayers of the poor.

Eleven Pipers Piping

I suppose the Lords-a-Leaping and those dancing ladies have some appropriate music, now, at least.

Image from http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Adoration_of_the_magi_st.michael_toronto.jpg.

It seems that the version of this I have has rather more verses than standard. That’s alright, it will give you time to learn the refrain if you’re singing along.

https://player.soundcloud.com/player.swf?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F32163923%3Fsecret_token%3Ds-ps6X5&secret_url=true Puer natus in Bethlehem by artsyhonker

Puer natus in Bethlehem, alleluia,
Unde gaudet Jerusalem, alleluia, alleluia.

Refrain: In cordis jubilo Christum natum adoremus,
Cum novo cantico.

Assumpsit carnem Filius, alleluia,
Dei Patris altissimus, alleluia, alleluia.

Per Gabrielem nuntium, alleluia,
Virgo concepit Filium, alleluia, alleluia.

Tamquam sponsus de thalamo, alluia,
Processit Matris utero, alleluia, alleluia.

Hic jacet in præsepio, alleluia
Qui regnat sine termino, alleluia, alleluia.

Et Angelus pastoribus, alleluia,
Revelat quod sit Dominus, alleluia, alleluia.

Reges de Sabâ veniunt, alleluia,
Aurum, thus, myrrhum offerunt, alleluia, alleluia,

Intrantes domum invicem, alleluia,
Novum salutant principem, alleluia, alleluia.

De Matre natus Virgine, alleluia:
Qui lumen est de lumine, alleluia, alleluia.

Sine serpentis vulnere, alleluia,
De nostro venit sanguin, alleluia, alleluia.

In carne nobis similis, alleluia,
Peccato sed dissimilis; alleluia, alleluia.

Ut redderet nos homines, alleluia,
Deo et sibi similes, alleluia, alleluia.

In hoc natali gaudio, alleluia,
Benedicamus Domino, alleluia, alleluia.

Laudetur sancta Trinitas, alleluia,
Deo dicamus gratias, alleluia, alleluia.

Ten Lords-a-Leaping

Image from http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:%27%27_Nativity_%27%27_.JPG

A pretty little carol, which, like “Away in a Manger”, I’ve only ever heard sung to a different tune than this one.

https://player.soundcloud.com/player.swf?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F32167300%3Fsecret_token%3Ds-kdTAK&secret_url=true A virgin most pure by artsyhonker

A virgin most pure, as the Prophets do tell,
Hath brought forth a baby, as it hath befell,
To be our Redeemer from death, hell and sin,
Which Adam’s transgression had wrapped us in.

Aye, and therefore be you merry,
Rejoice and be merry,
Set sorrow aside;
Christ Jesus our Savior was born on this tide.

At Bethlehem city in Jewry a City there was
Where Joseph and Mary together did pass,
And there to be taxed, with many one more,
For Cæsar commanded the same should be so. Refrain

But, when they had entered the city so fair
A number of people so mighty was there,
That Joseph and Mary, whose substance was small,
Could get in the Inn there6 no lodging at all. Refrain

Then were they constrained in a stable to lie,
Where horses and asses6a they us’d for to tie;
Their lodging so simple they held it no scorn,
But against the next morning our Saviour was born. Refrain

The King of all kings to this world being brought,
Small store of fine linen to wrap him was sought,
And when she had swaddled her young son so sweet,
Within an ox manger she laid him to sleep. Refrain

Then God sent an Angel from Heaven so high,
To certain poor Shepherds in fields where they lye,
And bade them no longer in sorrow to stay,
Because that our Saviour was born on this day. Refrain

Then presently after the Shepherds did spy
A number of Angels that stood in the sky;
Who joyfully talked and sweetly did sing,
To God be all glory our Heavenly King. Refrain

Nine ladies dancing

Image from http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Sonnenaufgang_mit_As.jpg

From the rising of the sun to the ends of the earth, let us sing of Christ the Prince,
born of the Virgin Mary.

Image from http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:A_solis_ortus.jpg

https://player.soundcloud.com/player.swf?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F32167396%3Fsecret_token%3Ds-fUUk8&secret_url=true A solis ortus cardine by artsyhonker

A solis ortus cardine
Ad usque terrae limitem
Christum canamus Principem,
Natum Maria Virgine.

Beatus auctor saeculi
Servile corpus induit,
Ut carne carnem liberans
Non perderet quod condidit.

Clausae1 parentis viscera
Caelestis intrat gratia;
Venter puellae baiulat
Secreta quae non noverat.

Domus pudici pectoris
Templum repente fit Dei;
Intacta nesciens virum
Verbo concepit Filium.2

Enixa3 est puerpera
Quem Gabriel praedixerat,
Quem matris alvo gestiens4
Clausus Ioannes senserat.5

Foeno iacere pertulit,
Praesepe non abhorruit,
Parvoque lacte pastus est6
Per quem nec ales esurit.

Gaudet chorus caelestium
Et Angeli canunt Deum,
Palamque fit pastoribus
Pastor, Creator omnium.

Gloria tibi, Domine,
Qui natus es de Virgine,
Cum Patre et Sancto Spiritu,
In sempiterna saecula. Amen.

Translation into English available at CPDL.

Eight Maids-a-Milking

Can you milk swans? Or do the maids bring their own cows? I’m not convinced about all these presents.

Image from http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Santa_Maria_del_Mar2.JPG.

I don’t have much to say tonight.

https://player.soundcloud.com/player.swf?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F32140436 Ther is no rose of swych vertu by artsyhonker

REFRAIN: Ther is no rose of swych vertu
As is the rose that bare Jhesu.

Ther is no rose of swych vertu
As is the rose that bare Jhesu.

For in this rose conteynyd was
Heven and erthe in lyttyl space,

Be that rose we may weel see
That he is God in personys thre,

The aungelys sungyn the sheperdes to:
‘Gloria in excelsis Deo.’

Leive we al this worldly merthe,
And folwe we this joyful berthe:

Seven Swans-a-Swimming

I think it’s illegal to eat swans over here, except with special permission of the Queen or someone important. I’m told the ones on Wanstead Lake were swimming quite happily today; I didn’t get there to have a look, myself.

Image from http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Chester_Cathedral_-_Weihnachtsfenster.jpg

Just a little something to bring in the New Year. The Shorter New Oxford Book of Carols says “This may have been written for the rumbustious festival of the subdeacons/lay brothers on New Year’s Day.” Of course I would never encourage any early rumbustiousness*.

https://player.soundcloud.com/player.swf?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F32081924 Verbum Patris Umanatur by artsyhonker

Verbum Patris umanatur, O! O!
Dum puella salutatur, O! O!
Salutata fecundatur viri nescia.
He! he! hei! nova gaudia!

Novus modus geniture, O! O!
Sed excedens ius nature, O! O!
Dum unitur creature Creans omnia.
He! he! hei! nova gaudia!

Audi partum praeter morem, O! O!
Virgo parit Salvatorem, O! O!
Creatura Creatorem, Patrem filia.
He! he! hei! nova gaudia!

In parente Salvatoris, O! O!
Non est parens nostri moris, O! O!
Virgo parit, nec pudoris marcent lilia.
He! he! hei! nova gaudia!

Homo Deus nobis datur, O! O!
Datus nobis demonstratur, O! O!
Dum pax terris nuntiatur celis gloria.
He! he! hei! nova gaudia!

The translation is, roughly:

The word of the Father is made man, maiden, conception, mumble, hurrah, new joy!

This is a new manner of birth, exceeding the power of nature, mumble Creator united with everything mumble, hurrah, new joy!

Hear of a birth mumble, a Virgin has borne the Saviour, mumble creature/Creator, daughter of the Father, hurrah, new joy!

Something about the parent of the Saviour being different from what we know as parenting, Virgin, lilies, hurrah, new joy!

God made man is given to us; this is demonstrated, peace on earth mumble glory in the heavens, hurrah, new joy!

No, I have never studied Latin. And the translation in the Shorter New Oxford Book of Carols is, as far as I can tell, not in the public domain.

*Any rumbustiousness I get up to tonight will have to be comparatively early, as tomorrow is Sunday and that means I will be at church making rather a lot of noise at everyone else’s hangover.

Six Geese-a-Laying

More geese!?

This isn’t the most popular tune for this particular carol; though it is in Carols for Choirs 1, I’ve never heard it sung in a service.

Any mother will tell you that “no crying he makes” is a complete fiction; it’s bad theology to imply that the Christ child was not fully human, as well as fully divine. But I like this tune, so here you go.

https://player.soundcloud.com/player.swf?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F31895733%3Fsecret_token%3Ds-sF0S3&secret_url=true Away in a manger by artsyhonker

Away in a manger, no crib for a bed,
The little Lord Jesus laid down His sweet head.
The stars in the bright sky looked down where He lay,
The little Lord Jesus asleep on the hay.

The cattle are lowing, the baby awakes,
But little Lord Jesus no crying He makes.
I love Thee, Lord Jesus! Look down from the sky,
And stay by my side until morning is nigh.

Be near me, Lord Jesus; I ask Thee to stay
Close by me forever, and love me, I pray.
Bless all the dear children in Thy tender care,
And fit us for heaven, to live with Thee there.

Five Gold Rings

Finally off the poultry! Though if you look closely there is the Holy Spirit, represented by a dove, in this stained glass window of the Annunciation.


This is very much a mixture of old and new. The words date from the 15th Century. The music dates from 2010 and is by one Chris Upton, who has released it under my favourite license, CC BY-SA.

https://player.soundcloud.com/player.swf?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F31899077 I Syng of a Mayden by artsyhonker

I syng of a mayden
þat is makeles,
kyng of alle kynges
to here sone che ches.

He cam also stylle
þer his moder was
as dew in aprylle,
þat fallyt on þe gras.

He cam also stylle
to his moderes bowr
as dew in aprille,
þat fallyt on þe flour.

He cam also stylle
þer his moder lay
as dew in Aprille,
þat fallyt on þe spray.;

Moder & mayden
was neuer non but che –
wel may swych a lady
Godes moder be.

I sing of a maiden
That is matchless,
King of all kings
For her son she chose.

He came as still
Where his mother was
As dew in April
That falls on the grass.

He came as still
To his mother’s bower
As dew in April
That falls on the flower.

He came as still
Where his mother lay
As dew in April
That falls on the spray.

Mother and maiden
Was never none but she;
Well may such a lady
God’s mother be.

Four calling birds

As usual, no birds. I guess turtle doves just aren’t nocturnal…

Image from http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Merope.jpg

I know about this piece of music thanks to Francis Roads, Tim Henderson and the London Gallery Quire, where I play serpent and occasionally sing a bit or wave my arms about.

I’ve transposed it down a semi-tone for comfort, and am playing the instrumental bassline on the horn rather than a string instrument; a string instrument or maybe a bassoon would be more historically accurate but I don’t play them! And the serpent is a bit too honky for this piece. While the tune, Epiphany, is anonymous, it puts me very much in mind of the music of Phocion Henley.

I love Wesley’s words, which remind me of part of the Benedictus:
“Through the tender mercy of our God : whereby the dayspring from on high hath visited us;
To give light to them that sit in darkness, and in the shadow of death : and to guide our feet into the way of peace.”

Wesley might not have been writing about the Holy Innocents, but I think it’s an appropriate text for this day.

https://player.soundcloud.com/player.swf?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F31811925 Sons of men, behold from far by artsyhonker

Sons of men, behold from far,
Hail the long-expected star!
Jacob’s star, that gilds the night,
Guides bewildered nature right.
Fear not hence that ill should flow;
Wars and pestilence below;
Wars it bids, and tumults cease,
Ush’ring in the Prince of Peace.

Mild it shines on all beneath,
Piercing through the shades of death;
Scatt’ring error’s wide-spread night,
Kindling darkness into light.
Nations all, remote and near,
Haste to see your God appear:
Haste, for Him your hearts prepare,
Meet Him manifested there.

There behold the Day-spring rise,
Pouring light upon your eyes:
See it chase the shades away,
Shining to the perfect day.
Sing, ye morning stars again,
God descends on earth to reign,
Deigns for man His life to employ;
Shout, ye sons of God, for joy.