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The Moon Shines Bright

[ Roud 702 ; Ballad Index DTbellma ; trad.]

The Moon Shines Bright is a carol collected by Lucy Broadwood from the Goby family, gypsies in Sussex and Surrey about 1900. Jasper Smith sang it in a recording made by Mike Yates near Epsom, Surrey, in April 1974 on the Topic album The Travelling Songster: An Anthology from Gypsy Singers. This track was also included in 1998 on the Topic anthology My Father's the King of the Gypsies (The Voice of the People Series Volume 11).

The Valley Folk sang The Moon Shines Bright in 1968 on their LP All Bells in Paradise: Carols for All Seasons.

Shirley Collins sang The Moon Shines Bright accompanied by Dolly Collins on flute organ and Philip Pickett playing recorders on the sisters' album For As Many As Will. This recording was also included on their anthologies Fountain of Snow (1992), Within Sound (2002) and The Classic Collection (2004). A live recording from Dublin was included in 1998 on their CD Harking Back.

Ram's Bottom sang The Moon Shines Bright in 1981 on their Traditional Sound Recordings album The Young May Moon. This track was also included in 2001 on the Fellside anthology Voices in Harmony: English Traditional Songs and in 2002 on the Fellside anthology Seasons, Ceremonies & Rituals: The Calendar in Traditional Song. The sleeve notes commented:

Carols are probably the most natural songs to lend themselves to any self respecting harmony group. This one was collected in Sussex by Lucy Broadwood from the gypsy family Goby. It is one of numerous versions of the carol, sung with suitable adaptions at Christmas or Easter.

Coope Boyes & Simpson sang The Moon Shines Bright in 1998 on their No Masters CD A Garland of Carols.

Emily Portman sang Moon Shines Bright in 2011 on her single Hinge of the Year.

Andy Turner sang The Moon Shines Bright as the December 31, 2011 entry of his project A Folk Song a Week. He commented in the project's blog:

This version was recorded in the 1950s from Albert Beale of Kenardington in Kent, by Peter Kennedy and Maud Karpeles. I learned it many years ago from the BBC 78 rpm recording held at Cecil Sharp House; it was also included on the Folktrax cassette The Bitter Withy. Slightly different versions were taken down by Cecil Sharp from Albert’s married sister Alice Harden in 1911, and from his father James Beale in 1908; the latter is printed in the EFDSS collection Still Growing.

Steve Roud included The Moon Shines Bright in 2012 in The New Penguin Book of English Folk Songs. Lucy Ward, Bella Hardy, James Findlay and Brian Peters sang it a year later as the final song of the accompanying Fellside CD The Liberty to Choose: A Selection of Songs from The New Penguin Book of English Folk Songs.

Lyrics

Shirley Collins sings The Moon Shines Bright

The moon shines bright and the stars give a light,
In a little while it will be day.
Our Lord, our God, He calls upon us all
And bids us awake and pray.

So dear, so dear Christ loved us
And for our sins got slain.
I'd have you to leave all your wicked, wicked ways
And turn to the Lord again.

For the life of a man it is but a span
And he flourishes like a flower
For he's here today, tomorrow he is gone
And dead all in an hour.

Now the clock strikes one, it's time we were gone,
No longer to tarry here.
God bless you all, both great and small
And send you a happy New Year.

Ram's Bottom sing The Moon Shines Bright

O the moon shines bright and the stars give a light
O a little before the day.
Our Lord, our God, He calls upon us all
And he bids us awake and pray.

Awake, awake, good people all
Awake, and you shall hear:
Our blessed Saviour died upon the cross
Saying Christ loved us so dear.

So dear, so dear Christ loveth us
And for our sins got slain.
We'll all leave off our wicked, wicked way
And turn to the Lord again.

O the life of a man it is but a span,
He flourishes like a flower.
He is here today and tomorrow he is gone
And he's dead all in an hour.

O teach your children well, good man
As long as here you stay
For it might be better for your sweet soul
When your body lies under clay.

There's a green turf at your head, good man,
And another at your feet.
God bless you all, both great and small
And I hope you a happy New Year.