Sing Christmas and the Turn of the Year


  • Sing Christmas and the Turn of the Year
    • 2000 - Rounder CD1850 CD
  • Track List:
    1. Introduction / Good King Wenceslas — Alan Lomax, Birmingham Studio Group
    2. Caroling in the Dark / Good King Wenceslas / This is the Truth Sent from Above / The Holly and the Ivy — Alan Lomax, Children's Chorus, The Haddo House Choir, Brian Newey Skiffle Group, The Skinner's Bottom Glee Singers, Shirley Collins
    3. Boscastle Breakdown / Padstow Wassail Song / St. David's Day Dance / I Wonder as I Wander — Charlie Bate, Marshfield Paper Boys, Cyril Tawney
    4. We Wish You a Merry Christmas / Caroling scene — Wisbech Children's Choir
    5. Peace O're the World — Carolers At The Cheshire Cheese Pub
    6. Introduction to the Ballad of Jesus Christ Ewan MacColl
    7. The Ballad of Jesus Christ — Ewan MacColl
    8. Excerpt from Shepherd's Nativity Play / Shepherd's Cradle Song / Coventry Carol / Excerpt from Wisbech Nativity Play — Steven Kirby, Hollinwood Girls' Choir, Ronald Soules, Wisbech Grammer School, Walter Slasher
    9. Christmas in London — Alan Lomax, Charles Chilton
    10. The Derby Ram — A.L. Lloyd
    11. Christmas Morning Calypso — Fitzoy Coleman
    12. Unite — Rans Boi Highlife Group
    13. Pretty Little Baby — Peggy Seeger
    14. Reading from Luke 2: 15-19 / Psalm 23 / The Mother's Consecration / Christ Child Lullaby / Saint Mary's Men Are We — Joe Duthie, Peter Buchan, Students From The Scalloway Junior Secondary School, Flora MacNeil, Katie Ann Nicholson
    15. The Day We Went to Rothsay-o — Ian McRae
    16. Regional hookup: God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen — Ewan MacColl, Brian Newey Skiffle Group, Birmingham Studio Group, Charlie Bate
    17. Cromwell Versus Father Christmas — Alan Lomax
    18. The Jug f Punch / Vinyl Ridge March — The McPeake Trio, Ravenhill Temperance Flute Band
    19. Royal Belfast Hornpipe / Millicent's Hornpipe / The Tenpenny Bit / The Dublin Reel — Gerard O'Kane, The Rakes, Seamus Ennis, Katie Graham
    20. The Cherry Tree Carol — Shirley Collins
    21. Anglesey Carol / Hiraeth — The North Wales Singers, Sian Emlyn
    22. Excerpt from the Symondsbury Mummers Play / Donny Brook Fair (Winlaton Sword Dance) — Unkown Artist
    23. Good King Wenceslas / When the Saints Go Marching In — Haslington Boys Brass Band, The Happy Wanderers
    24. T'was Mary Conceived / The Noble Stem of Jesse Dominic Behan, Hollinwood Girls' Choir
    25. The Lord's Prayer (in Welsh) — Unknown Welch Choir
    26. O Come All Ye Faithful / The Gift of Power / Metrical Psalm in Gaelic — The Sale And District Musical Society, Katie Ann Nicholson
    27. No Room at the Inn (story) / Last Month of the Year — Alan Lomax
    28. Hark, What News the Angels Bring / I Saw Three Ships Come Sailing In / Wassail, Wassail, All Over This Town / Here We Come a-Wassailing — Carolers At The Chesire Cheese Pub, Shirley Collins, Charlie Bate Group, Birmingham Studio Group


Place Sing Christmas and the Turn of the Year in your stereo, press "play" and instantly it's 1957. Christmas Day, specifically, and all of Britain is celebrating. Alan Lomax was there and he saved it for us all to hear. And Rounder Records, 43 years later, has released it for everyone's seasonal enjoyment.

Working with live hookups throughout the British Isles, Lomax presented an original holiday broadcast on the BBC. Leapfrogging around the country, Lomax and his associates gave listeners a taste of Britain's multicultural celebrations, ranging from traditional pub sings to choral hymns and, yes, even the skiffle bands which were popular in the day.

We don't get a lot of full songs here; Lomax hops and skips from place to place, feeding us a snippet here and a snippet there, providing cultural commentary like a gung-ho sports announcer as he goes. And it's a rollicking ride.

Because the BBC saved no copies of the production, Sing Christmas and the Turn of the Year may well have disappeared from our folk memory forever. Fortunately, two copies — one preserved on 33 1/3 vinyl, the other on 78 — were found in the Lomax archives in 1996. The CD was made using the best tracks from both, but there is still a bit of sound distortion — it's rarely intrusive, however. The CD comes with comprehensive liner notes detailing the first broadcast and the subsequent folk revival which Lomax would be remembered for spearheading. There are also photos, a complete transcription of Lomax's dialogue and the lyrics of all the songs.

If you have a yen for Christmas Past, take this one home and send yourself back to 1957.