"Deck the Halls with Boughs of Holly"
Ancient Welsh Tune
Christmas is coming, and like most of you I am busy with preparations for the feast, and of course the wrapping and — still! — with the decorating that we like to do here at our house for Christmas. In fact, I am about to literally deck the halls with boughs of holly from our bushes in the front yard, so this week’s Sometimes a Song will be simple but jolly, a tune I hope you will have a chance to sing over this joyous season.
”Deck the Halls with Bough of Holly” is a traditional carol set to an ancient Welsh tune (Nôs Galan), first transcribed in about the middle of the 18th century by the blind harpist, John Parry (Bardd Alaw), a member of the Royal Society of Musicians of Great Britain, a charitable foundation which supports to this day the work and careers of worthy artists. Parry and his associate produced a work called British Harmony: Being a Collection of Antient Welsh Airs, the Traditional Remains of those Originally Sung By the Bards of Wales.
The first lyrics in English were composed by a famed Welsh musician and composter of his own day, Thomas Oliphant, and first appeared in 1862 in a four-volume collection called Welsh Melodies. Oliphant’s lyrics underwent a number of changes over the years, from the original Welsh tune traditionally sung at New Year’s to the light-hearted English carol which has been sung at Christmas for over two centuries.
Not to beat any longer about the holly bush, here — sung by the grand Welsh Treorchy Male Voice Choir — is “Deck the Halls,” sent to you along with best wishes from the Esolens for a very Merry Christmastide!
Oh how I love this! Have never heard it in Welsh before, how wonderful! The language itself has such joyful energy!
Is ther any choir like that of the Welshmen? Thank you for their lovely musical celebration of the wonder of Christmas!