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Beware the Winter Settlin' In

Detail adapted from "Twelfth Night Merry Making in Farmer Shakeshaft's Barn" by Hablot Knight Browne

Irish midwinter merrymaking, full of welcome and cheer
Commissioned by First Unitarian Society of Madison, WI / Dan Broner
Poet/Lyricist: 
Elizabeth Alexander

A whirl of midwinter merrymaking, welcoming the weary stranger and cherishing dear friends. In addition to a spry and nimble melody, this rowdy Irish jig includes a chorus of Gaelic "mouth music," also known as "lilting" or "diddling."

The optional children's choir part is very easy to learn, and may be taught using the free PDF  (see item in order form below) or by rote. The bodhrán part may be played as written or with traditional improvisation.

Celtic Band: flute, bodhrán, Irish or modern harp, 2 violins, cello & bass

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4'00" M SEA-139-00 $25.00
Sheet Music
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Kids sing free! (Click on PDF icon to download)
4'00" E SEA-139-02 $0.00
Free PDF

Beware the Winter Settlin' In

Elizabeth Alexander

1. When all that’s left of rose be thorn
And frost bewrays a winter’s scorn,
The promises of a balmy morn
Seem hardly worth believin’.
When days take on a dimmer cast,
And meadowsweet be ages past,
It seems the punishin’ icy blast
Will never be spent and leavin’.

Beware the winter settlin’ in,
Settlin’ into your heart,
Settlin’ in, settlin’ into your heart,
Settlin’ into your heart, settlin’ in.

2. When every gale’s a brutal shove,
Protect the fragile flame of love,
Lest bitterness stalk the borders of
Your slumb’rin’ and your wakin’.
So heed that when ye bolt the door
Against the blust’ry troubadour,
Ye keep a lamp in the window for
The traveler wrecked and shakin’.

Beware the winter settlin’ in, etc.

3. For dread can worry a hope to naught,
And fear can trump a kindly thought
And that can render a friend forgot,
As quickly as a blinkin’.
The winter never will bring ye harm
For love can keep a body warm
And friends be ever a merry charm
To keep the heart from sinkin’.

Diggety-jaigety-diggety-dum,
Dig-guh, dum-pah, dig-guh dumpity,
Diggety-jaigety-diggety-dum,
Jaidle, daidle, dow, dum.

4. So when the tempest bites and blows,
And slays your reason with its snows,
Remember the robin and the rose
Be patiently abidin’.
Tho’ it be long ‘til winter’s end,
Come laugh sing with me, my friend
A song to hurry the ice to bend
And shoots to quit their hidin’!

Composer's Note: 

It sounded like great fun to compose a rowdy winter song involving a Celtic band, but coming up with a lyric proved to be quite a challenge. (Do you have any idea how many winter poems are rants against the bitter wind, yearnings for a distant lover, or requests for another pint?)

It was when I remembered that my own family tree contains a 200 year old branch from Cork that I decided to craft my own lyric – one which welcomed the weary stranger and cherished the merry friend. In the process I had great fun learning about the grammar and vocabulary of Ireland’s English dialects, as well as reveling in traditional Gaelic “mouth music,” also known as“lilting” or “diddling.”

Performers: 

Premiere: Choir of First Unitarian Society / Dan Broner (Madison, WI)

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