Christmas Carols & Fantastic Fireworks
Saturday was one of those days which ends in a cloud of happiness. Firstly I attended a Forgotten Carols workshop led by Ali Burns - a descendant of Robert Burns - who has found and researched a wealth of traditional seasonal songs. She's also set many of the texts she's found to her own music, including one of our choir's favourites, The Field Mice's Carol.
We were based at Holy Trinity Church in Trowbridge for the day. It had just been painted and had a cosy, welcoming feel owing to the unusual choice of shades of reds and pinks for the decor. We learnt five new songs, all very different: from our merry start with Sing Nowell! through to the oldest, Christ Has My Hart, Ay dating from 1567 which was an amalgamation of two Scottish texts.
Ali wove tales of how she found the songs and their origins into our day and I was surprised to learn there are very few Christmas songs originating from Scotland. We also sang a completely different version - words and tune - of The Holly and the Ivy, where we learned that holly represents man, and ivy woman. In some songs the holly dominates and in the others, ivy and Ali thinks this reflects a shift between male and female dominated societies during Medieval times. It was an absolutely fascinating and uplifting workshop, which I'll be returning to for our next Garden Bloggers' Muse Day :)
In the evening we were invited up on Solsbury Hill - the location of last year's Barefoot Picnic - for a firework party. This was a fundraiser for Jamie's Farm, a local charity which started in 2008, aiming to help vulnerable youngsters. Jamie Fielden was a teacher in London and noticed a vast change in a number of his more challenging pupils when he brought some sheep from his parents farm into his school. Now he's developing that idea much further through his own farm and charity just outside Bath.
Our hosts Andrew and Annette put on a fine spread for us plus a firework display set to music. Andrew's been keen to have our choir sing to fireworks for a while now, so we had to work for our supper. Around 40 of us gathered at the top of the hill to sing Shine and Imagine from our Sing for Water repertoire to some of the more quieter fireworks in the display. Another uplifting experience, but very different to the one earlier in the day!