Archive for the 'Seasonal' Category

Christmas Is Coming

h1 Tuesday, December 1st, 2009

The lyrics of Christmas Is Coming stem from the traditional English Christmas feast at which geese were eaten. Children learned that this festive period is a time when each person is encouraged to give to charity, even if all they can give is a half penny.

The first documented reference to a penny is from around 790 AD when it was minted in silver. The design frequently changed, depicting various rulers. The Anglo-Saxon penny had a cross on the reverse side, a symbol of Christianity. These crosses were used as guidelines for cutting pennies into halves and quarters. The ha’penny (half a penny) and farthing (a fourth of a penny) were minted later. The word farthing was derived from ‘fourthing’. The penny changed from silver to copper in 1797 then to bronze in 1860 and finally to copper plated steel in 1992. 

I recorded this on Thanksgiving Day 2009 in Charleston South Carolina at an inn across from Historic St. Philips Church. The bells were ringing as I laid down my guitar track and I captured two minutes of the lovely sound which I blended into the final mix. The bells just happened to be in the right key.


[C] Christmas is [Dm] coming, the [Am] geese are getting [C] fat?
Won’t you please to put a [F] penny in the old [G] man’s [C] hat;?
If you haven’t got a [Dm] penny, a [Am] ha’penny will [C] do,
?If you haven’t got a [F] ha’penny [G] God bless [C] you!

Go Tell It On The Mountain

h1 Monday, December 1st, 2008

I bought a mandolin in Ft. Worth Texas on this tour and decided to use it here. I remember hearing this song on a vinyl two record set with a pop-up Christmas scene called “Home For Christmas,” sung by Mahalia Jackson. It has always been a favorite.

More From Wikipedia:

“Go Tell It on the Mountain” is an African-American spiritual dating back to at least 1865 that has been sung and recorded by many gospel and secular performers. It is considered a Christmas carol because its original lyric celebrates the Nativity: “Go tell it on the mountain, over the hills and everywhere; go tell it on the mountain, that Jesus Christ is born.”

In 1963, Peter Yarrow, Noel “Paul” Stookey, and Mary Travers, along with their musical director, Milt Okun, adapted and rewrote “Go Tell It on the Mountain” as “Tell It on the Mountain”, their lyrics referring specifically to Exodus and employing the line “Let my people go,” but implicitly referring to the Civil Rights struggle of the early ’60s. The song was recorded by Yarrow, Stookey and Travers on their Peter, Paul and Mary album In the Wind and was also a moderate hit single for them. (US #33 pop, 1964). Civil rights activist Fannie Lou Hamer used this rewritten version of the song as an anthem during the mid-1960s.

Other artists, besides Peter, Paul and Mary, who have recorded the song (chiefly on either Christmas-themed music albums or collections of spirituals or folk songs) include:

* The New Christy Minstrels
* Simon & Garfunkel
* Bob Marley
* Mahalia Jackson
* Fred Hammond
* Kirk Franklin
* Candi Staton
* Frank Sinatra & Bing Crosby
* James Taylor
* Cece Winans
* Anne Murray
* Vanessa L. Williams
* Jewel
* Dustin Kensrue
* Bruce Cockburn
* Little Big Town
* Sherill Milnes
* John Rutter and the Cambridge Singers
* Sara Evans
* Jim Nabors
* Toby Keith
* Peter Tosh
* The Blind Boys of Alabama
* Oh Susanna – for the holiday compilation album, Maybe This Christmas Too? (2003)
* Dolly Parton
* Carola Häggkvist
* Bobby Darin
* Art Paul Schlosser (who rewrote the lyrics for kids with the title, “Go Tell it On the Swingset”)
* The Gas House Gang


[F] Go, tell it on the mountain,
[C] Over the hills and [F] everywhere
Go, tell it on the mountain,
That [F] Jesus [C] Christ is [F] born.

[C] The shepherds feared and [F] trembled,
[C] When low above the [F] earth,
[C] Rang out the angels chorus
That [G7] hailed our Savior’s [C] bi–rth.

While shepherds kept their watching
o’er silent flocks by night,
Behold, throughout the heavens
There shone a holy li–ght

And lo! When they had heard it,
They all bowed down to pray,
Then travelled on together,
To where the Baby la–y.

Down in a lowly manger
The humble Christ was born
And God sent us salvation
That blessed Christmas mo–rn.

O Come All Ye Faithful

h1 Saturday, December 1st, 2007

In keeping with the Folk Den tradition, this is a Christmas song for December. I have wonderful memories of singing this at my grandparents’ house in Chicago with my family in the mid 50s. My grandmother and grandfather would sit at the piano and play together and we would all harmonize, while recording it on a 78 rpm vinyl disc recorder. The melody is truly captivating. Merry Christmas 2007!
G] O come, all ye [D] faithful, [G] joyful and triumphant, [D]
[Em] Come ye, [D] O come ye, to [Bm] [A] Bethlehem [D]
[G] Come and [D] behold Him, [Em] born the King of [D] angels;

[G] O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
[C] O come, let us [D] adore [C] Him,
[G] Christ [D] the [G] Lord.

True God of true God, Light from Light Eternal,
Lo, he shuns not the Virgin’s womb;
Son of the Father, begotten, not created;

O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
Christ the Lord.

Sing, choirs of angels, sing in exultation;
Sing, all ye citizens of heaven above!
Glory to God, all glory in the highest;

O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
Christ the Lord.

Child, for us sinners poor and in the manger,
We would embrace Thee, with love and awe;
Who would not love Thee, loving us so dearly?

O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
Christ the Lord.

Yea, Lord, we greet Thee, born this happy morning;
Jesus, to Thee be glory given;
Word of the Father, now in flesh appearing.

O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
Christ the Lord.

Joy To The World

h1 Friday, December 1st, 2006

This is one of my favorite Christmas Carols. I decided to record it as an instrumental on my Rickenbacker 370/12/RM. Originally named “Antioch,” Mason’s original score said “from George Frederick Handel.”

The tune is named after the city of Antioch, Syria, where believers were first called “Christians”;
(Acts 11:26).

Words: Isaac Watts, 1719
Music: Lowell Mason, 1848

Joy to the world, the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare Him room,
And heaven and nature sing,
And heaven and nature sing,
And heaven, and heaven, and nature sing.

Joy to the world, the Savior reigns!
Let men their songs employ;
While fields and floods, rocks, hills and plains
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat, repeat, the sounding joy.

No more let sins and sorrows grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found,
Far as the curse is found,
Far as, far as, the curse is found.

He rules the world with truth and grace,
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders, wonders, of His love.

Children Go Where I Send Thee

h1 Thursday, December 1st, 2005


A traditional spiritual with a meaning for each number. I have placed the meaning next to the verses in parentheses.
[E] Children go [A] where I [E] send [A] thee
[E] How [A] shall I [E] send [A] thee?
[E] I'm gonna [A] send thee [E] one by one [A]
[E] One for the [A] Little Bitty [A] Baby
[E] Who was born, [A] born, [E] born in [B7] Bethlehem [E]

Two for Paul and Silas

Three for the Hebrew children

Four for the four who stood at the door (Mathew Mark Luke and John)

Five for the Gospel preachers (Mathew Mark Luke and John and all Gospel preachers)

Six for the jars where the wine was mixed (Miracle at the wedding feast at Cana)

Seven for the seven who came from Heaven (Seven-fold Spirit of God)

Eight for the eight who sealed their fate (The eight people who entered Noah's Ark)

Nine for the ninety-nine in line (Those waiting while the Good Shepard sought His one lost sheep)

Ten for the ten commandments

Eleven for the eleven who went to Heaven (The eleven disciples minus Judas Iscariot)

Twelve for the twelve Apostles

The First Noel

h1 Wednesday, December 1st, 2004


One of my fondest childhood memories is of standing around the piano with my mother and father at my grandparents' house in Chicago. My grandfather and grandmother sat at the keyboard. Every Christmas we would go through the small book of carols. The tree in the next room was decorated with lots of nineteenth century ornaments, and tin toys from Germany were abundantly scattered around the blanket of white material made to look like snow. This is one of the prettiest carols I remember from that time. An English Carol from before 1823.
The First Noel

[D] The first Noel the [G] angel did [D] say,
Was to [G] certain poor [D] shepherds in fields as they lay;
In fields where they lay [G] keeping their [D] sheep,
On a [G] cold winter's [D] night that was [A] so [D] deep.

[D] Noel, [Bm] Noel, [G] Noel, [D] Noel,
[G] Born is the [D] King of Is [A] ra [D] el

They looked up and saw a star
Shining in the east, beyond them far,
And to the earth it gave great light,
And so it continued both day and night.

Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel,
Born is the King of Israel

And by the light of that same star
Three Wise Men came from country far;
To seek for a king was their intent,
And to follow the star wherever it went.

Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel,
Born is the King of Israel

Then let us all with one accord
Sing praises to our heavenly Lord
Who hath made heaven and earth of naught,
And with His blood all mankind hath bought.

Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel,
Born is the King of Israel

Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel,
Born is the King of Israel

We Wish You a Merry Christmas

h1 Monday, December 1st, 2003


This is a very popular old English Christmas carol. It's also a subtle ad for a cup of grog to ease the singer's throat. Many versions include the line 'Good tidings we bring to you and your friends,' but this must have been added to the original at some later date.
We [G] wish you a merry [C] Christmas
We [Am] wish you a merry [D] Christmas
We [G] wish you a merry [C] Christmas
And a [Am] happy [D] New [G] Year.

Oh bring us some figgy pudding (3x)
With a cup of good cheer.

We won't go until we get it (3x)

We all love our figgy pudding (3x)

With a cup of good cheer

So bring it out here!

We wish you a Merry Christmas (3x)
And a happy New Year.

Away In A Manger

h1 Sunday, December 1st, 2002


Verses 1 & 2, were written by an anonymous author, Some sources show the author as Martin Luther; this attribution (probably incorrect) is based on the title 'Luther's Cradle Hymn,' given to these words by the composer, James Murray. Verse 3 is by John Thomas McFarland (1851-1913).

Thanks to Richard W. Adams for doing this research.

'Mueller,' James R. Murray, 1887

[G] Away in a manger, no [C] crib for a [G] bed,
The little Lord Jesus laid down His sweet [D] head.
The [G] stars in the sky looked [C] down where He [G] lay,
The [G] little Lord Jesus, [D] asleep on the [G] 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 cradle til 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 take us to heaven to live with Thee there.

I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day

h1 Saturday, December 1st, 2001

Merry Christmas 2001

And A Peaceful New Year!

(Henry Wadsworth Longfellow)

[D] I heard the bells on [A] Christmas day

[D] Their old familiar [A] carols play,

[D] And wild and sweet the [Bm] words [G] repeat

[D] Of peace on earth, good [A] will to [D] men.

I thought how, as the day had come,

The belfries of all Christendom

Had rolled along th' unbroken song

Of peace on earth, good will to men.

And in despair I bowed my head

'There is no peace on earth,' I said,

'For hate is strong and mocks the song

Of peace on earth, good will to men.'

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:

'God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;

The wrong shall fail, the right prevail

With peace on earth, good will to men.'

Till ringing, singing on its way

The world revolved from night to day,

A voice, a chime, a chant sublime

Of peace on earth, good will to men.

Twelve Days of Christmas, The

h1 Friday, December 1st, 2000

What is a 'colly-bird' in the context of the traditional English song 'The Twelve Days of Christmas'?

'On the fourth day of Christmas my true love sent to me four colly-birds, three French hens, two turtle doves and a partridge in a pear tree.'

The first edition of the Oxford English Dictionary published the section covering 'colly' in October 1891. It reveals that 'colly' is, or was, an old English word meaning black, from 'coal'. And, it says, a 'colly-bird' is the Blackbird.

[D] On the (first) day of Christmas my [A] true love sent to [D] me
Twelve lords leaping
Eleven ladies dancing
Ten pipers piping
Nine drummers drumming
Eight maids milking
Seven swans swimming
Six geese laying
[D] Five [E] gold [A] rings
[A] Four colly birds
[A] Three French hens
[A] Two turtle doves and
A [D] partridge [A] in a pear [D] tree