Dr. Judy Blezzard arrived for a light-hearted examination of the origins of Christmas Carols. Armed with a Teddy Bear called Ted and some packets of an undisclosed powder, she began to open up on some alternate Carols.
“While Shepherds watched their flocks by night” sung to “Ilkla Moor Baht at” proved a popular starter for the Harlow Old Men’s Glee Club. And Ted soon joined the proceedings from the floor when we “all see Ted on the ground”
Quite a few carols emanated from 15th-century songs which, like wassail songs, had a work rhythm to them. Over the years, these ancient pagan songs progressed into ritual dances. This was another barely disguised cue for several members to get up and demonstrate their agility. Thus followed a double helping of the Hokey Cokey from the Harlow Strictly Dancers, lustily accompanied by the Glee Club.
Next for an explanation was “ Good King Wenceslas” written in 1853 by John Mason Neale. Its origin was a carol from the 14th century which explained the effect of Spring on the mating season. The music was retained but the new storyline celebrated the long tradition of giving to Charity on the Feast of St Stephen – Boxing Day
Silent Night originated in Austria about 1880 and is usually performed as a slow lullaby. However, Judy showed that, by giving proper respect to its roots, it is best performed to the meter of a Viennese waltz. So the show went on with several more Carols explained and skillfully rendered by Judy on the piano.
In the end, it was time for prize giving and the selection of the five best contributors. Each was presented with a packet of the aforementioned powder with instructions to add it to a glass of Gluhwein (Mulled wine). Hopefully, the results will not be too explosive.
Neil Ramshaw thanked Judy for her relaxed and informative tutoring which hit all the right notes to set us in the mood for Christmas Festivities. Members finally left for home, some whistling to King Wenceslas and others shaking it all about to the H….. C……!
Next Tuesday, 21st December it’s time for the Annual Christmas Lunch at Ascot House. Members and their guests are encouraged to take a lateral flow test before arrival and have a mask available to wear as necessary. The event timing is a 12-noon assembly for a 12.30 start.
Recorded by: RICHARD WRIGHT