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Wexford Carol

[ Roud 22086 ; anon.]

Andrew Cronshaw played the Irish Wexford Carol in 1982 on his album The Great Dark Water.

Maggie Boyle sang the Wexford Carol in 1995 on Incantation's CD Songs for the Season, and again in 2006 in a track especially recorded for the Free Reed anthology Midwinter. The latter's booklet commented:

This is one of several carols collected in and around the town of Wexford by Dermot O'Muirthe. Though the tune is Celtic, the words do seem to originate in England. However, no single collected English carol contains them all, and the song is rather a jig-saw which selects some of the best verses of at least four other carols. Both Cecil Sharp and Vaughan Williams collected contributory carols in Derbyshire. One writer has suggested this as an example of how both Celtic and American folk music genres make use of floating verses to create entire new works.

The New Scorpion Band sang the Wexford Carol in 2001 on their CD The Carnal and the Crane. They noted:

This glorious Irish carol was collected from Fr Patrick Cummins in Enniscorthy, County Wexford in 1912. The words are English in origin, appearing in a 17th century broadside ballad in the Roxburgh collection, with the title Let All That Are to Mirth Inclined This version was published in Gilbert’s Some Ancient Christmas Carols in 1822. The text has also been collected in Castleton in Derbyshire, sung to a different tune. It was published in Old Castleton Christmas Carols in 1904. Robert [White]’s uillean pipe accompaniment is inspired by the example of a set of pipes played by a priest in Skibbereen, County Cork. This instrument had seven regulators, or harmonic keys, and was used to accompany the singing in church.

Uilleann pipes, whistle and vocal, sung by Tim [Laycock].

Jessica Radcliffe, Lisa Ekström and Martin Simpson sang the Wexford Carol in 2000 on their CD Beautiful Darkness: Celebrating the Winter Solstice.

Coope Boyes & Simpson, Fi Fraser, Jo Freya and Georgina Boyes sang the Wexford Carol in 2006 on their CD Voices at the Door. They commented in their album notes:

Although its obvious connections are with Ireland, this carol has lots of links with Derbyshire—and it's also a favourite with Lester Simpson, who comes from Derbyshire.

Text: Anon—based on the form Ralph Vaughan Williams noted from Mr J.  Hall (either James Hall of Lodge Cottage or Joseph Hall of Millbridge) in Castleton, Derbyshire in 1908. Known in the village as All You That Are to Mirth Inclined, the carol was sung by Mrs Nellie Lampe and Mrs Jessie Hall of Castleton until a few years ago. The text dates from the mid-seventeenth century, when it was published on broadsides under the title The Sinners' Redemption. W.H. Shawcross, who included it it A Garland of Old Castleton Christmas Carols (1903), called it Birth of the Saviour and noted that it often appeared on the large sheets of carols regional printers produced for Christmas.

Ange Hardy sang a few verses of The Wexford Carol unaccompanied in 2014 on her Christmas single The Little Holly Tree.

Lyrics

Good people all, this Christmas time
Consider well and bear in mind
What our good God for us has done
In sending His beloved Son.

With thankful heart we should pray
To God with love this Christmas day
In Bethlehem upon that morn
There was a blessed Messiah born!

The night before that happy tide
The noble virgin and her guide
Were long time seeking up and down
To find a lodging in the town.

But mark how all things came to pass
From every door repelled, alas!
As long foretold, their refuge all
Was but an humble oxen's stall.

There were three wise men from afar
Directed by a glorious star
And on they wandered night and day
Until they came where Jesus lay.

And when they came unto that place
Where our beloved Messiah was
They humbly cast them at His feet
With gifts of gold and incense sweet.

Near Bethlehem did shepherds keep
Their flocks of lambs and feeding sheep
To whom God's angels did appear
Which put the shepherds in great fear.

"Prepare and go", the angels said
"To Bethlehem, be not afraid
For there you'll find, this happy morn
A princely babe, sweet Jesus born".

With happy heart and joyful mind
The shepherds went the babe to find
And as God's angel had foretold
They did our Saviour Christ behold.

Within a manger He was laid
And by His side the virgin maid
Attending on the Lord of life
Who came on earth to end all strife.

Links

See also the Mudcat Café thread Chord Req: Wexford Carol.