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Awake Awake (New Year’s Carol)

[ Roud 701 ; Ballad Index KaCr105 ; VWML CJS2/10/2711 ; Bodleian Roud 701 ; trad.]

Keith Kendrick and Lynne Heraud sang the New Year’s carol Awake Awake in 2000 on their WildGoose album Stars in My Crown. They noted:

Here’s a remnant from the Kendrick/Coope alliance of the 70’s/80’s. Barry fished it out of Maud Karpeles’ Sharp compilation The Crystal Spring and it’s one of the most graphic and heart rending sets of lyrics I’ve come across among English carols—and such a jolly tune!…? It seems it was traditionally sung as a duet—Cecil Sharp heard it sung in this way (presumably in unison?) by Samuel Bradley and Seth Vandrell in Shropshire in 1911 [VWML CJS2/10/2711] .

Waterson:Carthy sang Awake Awake in 2006 on their Topic album Holy Heathens and the Old Green Man. Martin Carthy noted:

Gipsy singers are the source for very many of the songs whose stories have their origins in the Apocryphal Gospels and likewise for many of the more unusual carols can be found in the body of traditional song. Cecil Sharp heard Awake Awake sung by two old gentlemen called Samuel Bradley and Seth Vandrell in Shropshire. At that time he was meeting quite a few Gipsy singers and it would seem that they too were Gipsy people. Such a beautiful fluid melody embracing such stern thoughts about a joyful New Year is often the way with such songs.

The Swedish group West of Eden sang Awake, Awake on their 2016 CD Another Celtic Christmas. Their singer Jenny Schaub has rewritten most of the lyrics, retaining only the first two lines and the chorus.

Finest Kind sang Awake, Awake on their 2018 Christmas album I Am Christmas. They noted:

The tune and chorus of Awake, Awake come from a dark Easter carol collected in Shropshire and recorded years ago by the Watersons. Ian [Robb] wrote a new set of words for Christmas.


Waterson:Carthy sing Awake Awake

Awake! Awake! you drowsy souls
And hear what I shall tell:
Remember Christ, the Lamb of God,
Redeemed our souls from hell.
He’s crowned with thorns, spit on with scorn,
They bruised his bleeding body so.

Chorus (after each verse):
So God send you all a joyful New Year, a New Year,
So God send you all a joyful New Year.

They bound Christ’s body to a tree,
And they wounded Him full sore;
From every wound the blood ran down
Till Christ could bleed no more.
His dying wounds they rent and tore,
Were covered with pearly gore.

Then Jesus He called to Thomas
And bid him, “Come and see,
And thrust thy fingers in my wounds
Which are in my body.
And be not faithless, but believe,
And happy you shall be.”

Then Jesus called His disciples down
And tried them over death.
He said, “All powers shall be given to you
In heaven and on earth.
Go forth and teach all nations,
Despising you of any rest.”

“Go seek every wandering sheep
As far as earth remains,
Till I myself have paid your debts
And turned you back again;
Come all you heavy laden,
And I will ease you all your pain.”


The lyrics are five of the ten verses from Cecil Sharp: English Folk-Carols (London, 1911); adapted to the actual singing of Waterson:Carthy.