> Folk Music > Records > A People's Carol

A People's Carol

A People's Carol (Leader LEE 4065)

A People's Carol
A Christmas singing tradition recorded in South Yorkshire pubs

Leader LEE 4065 (LP, UK, 1974)

  ▼ show all details  ▲ hide all details

Recorded by Bill Leader and David Bland in December 1973;
Produced by Ian Russell and Bill Leader;
Notes by Ian Russell;
Sleeve and booklet design by Janet Kerr


Side 1Side 2
  1. Hark! Hark! What News (Roud 389)
  2. While Shepherds Watched (Liverpool) (Roud 936)
  3. Jacob's Well (Roud 17703)
  4. Christmas Tree (Roud 17710)
  5. Awake, Arise Good Christians (Roud 17709)
  1. Hail! Smiling Morn (Roud 1346)
  2. The Star of Bethlehem (Roud 8365)
  3. While Shepherds Watched (Foster) (Roud 936)
  4. Ring Out ye Bells (Roud 17702)
  5. Six Jolly Miners (Roud 877; TYG 61)
  6. Merry Christmas (Roud 9681)

Tracks 4-5, 11 The Royal Hotel, Dungworth, December 2, 1973;
Tracks 1, 9-10 The Black Bull, Ecclesfield, December 6, 1973;
Tracks 8 The Fountain, Ingbirchworth, December 9, 1973;
Tracks 3, 7 The White Hart, Oughtibridge, December 15, 1973;
Tracks 2, 6 The Fountain, Ingbirchworth, December 16, 1973

Sleeve Notes

A casual visitor to the coal and steel area of South Yorkshire could be forgiven for disbelieving that in the villages beyond the sulphurous smog, there thrives a wide-spread tradition of Christmastide singing. Full-voiced, harmonised singing that flourishes not merely within the organisation of a choral society or a church choir but rather in the convivial, highly sociable and totally unsanctified setting of the local pub.

Very few of the carols are found in the standard collections used by schools and churches or indeed have the same turn of tune, because this district is one of a few pockets remaining in England in which survives a repertory of carols that pre-dates the work of 20th century hymn book editors.

Ian Russell, who has made a study of this carol tradition, says that there are at least eight pubs in the area where some singing still goes on and about twenty where the tradition continues strongly.

He chose four of these pubs each with its own distinctive style of singing and during December 1973 we recorded the singing sessions. We were there to capture the spirit of the occasion not to make clinical recordings, so you hear the normal sounds of a pub as well as the glorious singing. As Ian Russell had said: “This record may help to dissipate some blinkered notions about song traditions by presenting such a tradition as it exists today in all its reality and splendour.”

> Folk Music > Records > English Village Carols

English Village Carols

English Village Carols (Smithsonian Folkways SFW CD 40476)

English Village Carols
Traditional Christmas Carolling from the Southern Pennines

Smithsonian Folkways SFW CD 40476 (CD, USA, 1999)

  ▼ show all details  ▲ hide all details

This is a compilation of carols from Village Carols cassettes and CDs.
Compiled, annotated and produced by Ian Russell;
All tracks recorded by Ian Russell except
Tracks 3-4 recorded by John Leonard of the BBC,
Tracks 21-22 recorded by Nigel Bewley of the British Library National Sound Archive;
Post production by Nigel Bewley;
Cover photo by Brian Shuel

Liner notes (PDF) at Smithsonian Folkways


Carollers from the Royal Hotel, Dungworth (1995)

  1. Awake, Arise Good Christians (Roud 17709) (3.46)
  2. Pentonville (Roud 936) (4.43)

Carollers from the Black Bull, Ecclesfield (1983)

  1. Hark! Hark! (Roud 389) (3.07)
  2. How Beautiful upon the Mountain (Roud 8364) (2.21)

Carollers from the Blue Ball Inn, Worral (1995)

  1. Sweet Chiming Bells (Roud 936) (4.01)
  2. Star of Bethlehem (Roud 8365) (4.28)

Carollers from the Fountain Inn, Ingbirchworth (1995)

  1. Prodigal Son (Roud 17730) (3.35)
  2. Foster (Roud 936) (4.10)

Carollers from Castleton (1989)

  1. Hark! Hark! (Roud 389) (2.15)
  2. Shepherds Rejoice (Roud 7105) (3.18)

The Little John Singers from Hathersage (1992)

  1. Peace o'er the World (Roud 17729) (2.39)
  2. Hail Smiling Morn (Roud 1346) (2.34)

Carollers from the Travellers Rest, Oughtibridge (1992/1991)

  1. Mount Zion (Roud 17137) (3.24)
  2. Jacob's Well (Roud 17703) (4.21)

The Foolow Carollers (1994)

  1. Raise, Christians, Raise (Roud 17727) (1.52)
  2. Marshall (Roud 8365) (2.34)

The Coal Aston Carollers (1995)

  1. Expectation (Roud 936) (2.15)
  2. Lo! The Eastern Magi Rise (Roud 17728) (1.40)

Beeston Methodist Carol Choir (1997)

  1. Angels from the Realms of Glory (Roud 8358) (2.24)
  2. Three Harks (Roud 8337) (2.08)

A Festival of Village Carols, Grenoside (1996/1994)

  1. The Christmas Tree (Roud 17710) (5.044
  2. Merry Christmas (Roud 9681) (3.40)