I’ve been trying my hand at writing lyrics to traditional song-tunes, and I’m finally confident enough in one to present it here. Nnnnno. I’m not singing it yet, no. But for the sake of your (private, non-commercial, unrecorded) performances and rituals for tomorrow’s Solstice, I give you a song called Goshen Yule, based on the the John Renfro Davis tune The Nightingale.
Come up now, come up now, come up now bright Sun!
The autumn is ending, and the winter is come:
The maples are leafless, and the fields fill with snow;
And though you’re now weakest, your light can but grow!
The does dip their mouths to the stream before dawn,
And drink while the blue jays sing their wintering song;
Fresh snows hold the footprints of possums and hares,
and rocks faintly rumble with the snoring of bears.
Out in the deep woods, coyotes howl at the Moon,
And seek from their neighbors both a gift and a boon:
“Hear the love in our song, the joy this chorus intends —
But leave us the places where your firelight ends.”
Look where the chipmunk scurried over icy ground tnd where the owl landed without making a sound; No scuffle, no battle, just a claw and a bite, White wings and pure silence under cover of Night.
But here in the darkness, some faces emerge,
And on the high hilltop, glad voices converge.
Their loud shouts of gladness must echo to the skies;
though shadows and snowfall on the meadow still lies.
“He rises! He’s coming! Here’s the first light of the Sun!
Now Autumn is ended and Winter’s begun!
Though trees are all leafless and everything’s gray,
The light is returning and life finds a way!”
There are what I call the Eight Greats, or the eight major feast/festival days of the druidic year, corresponding roughly to the two Solstices and two Equinoxes, and the days that fall halfway between them. Call them for now, from January to December: Oimelc, Ostara, Beltane, Litha, Lammas, Mabon, Samhain, and Yule. I’ve now written songs for five of them, with tunes drawn from that website contemplator.com, and my goal is to do all eight (and then maybe some additional ones too), because druidry deserves some useable music that ordinary people can sing. It’s not that I object to what a friend of mine calls “pagan top 40” — there’s quite a few bands performing in the pagan space and in the folkrock space that create amazing and deeply powerful music. But there’s also songs that people can learn to play for themselves which are fun and enjoyable, and feel sacred even if the tunes are drawn out of historical bar-and-tavern songs — the equivalent of the jukebox in the corner from June 1637. Except, it should really be us doing the singing, not listening to the song on a stereo or smartphone.
I’ve seen this in operation in the EarthSpirit Community, where some members have been engaged in looking at ‘visiting traditions’ and mummer’s plays as a source of inspiration for telling the stories of climate change, our personal power to change the world, and the way that music and improvised tale-telling shift the conversation. I wanted to contribute my own piece to this ongoing work,
So I’ve decided to start publishing the songs this time around, along with a link to the music. I’m sorry to say that the exigencies of the season have kept me from recording it for you to listen to. But maybe you’ll visit Contemplator, and figure out how to sing this for yourself… and maybe next year we’ll be able to sing it together.
A Joyous Solstice and a Good Yule to all.