Friday, 16 December 2016

Waiting Around, take 2

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A quickie to preview tomorrow's carol concert, when I'll be revisiting the perennial crowned all in white problem first mentioned here.
In my (painfully RC) schools the line was unbending: the 'children' (the souls of the righteous) in the carol are 'crowned all in white'. In other words, they are sainted – and marked with haloes; which makes them look, from a distance, 'like stars' (Geddit?).
This was at oods with the version sung by my present choir, who put the breath after crowned (at least, they have done with previous MDs). I later (in the same post) concluded
... the waiting around needn't detain us. In any case, the unfortunate vision – of juvenile delinquents hanging about on street corners – applies to both readings. The position of the breath (after 'crowned' or after 'white') affects only the colour of their hoodies. While 'wait around' is a phrasal verb in current English, it probably wasn't when the carol was written towards the end of the 19th century. I suspect the 'wait' has the sense of 'being available to serve'; and the 'around' is a simple preposition of place.
To summarize,, the souls of the righteous, wearing haloes (in the manner of well-dressed saints everywhere, especially in Heaven) are positioned all around Himself, ready to jump to attention.

We will be singing several pieces new to the choir, among them Joys Seven – which is, in jazz terms, a paraphrase of The Lincolnshire poacher.
That's something they don't seem  to do in  Primary Schools any more  – communal singing of  what were known as "Folk Songs" before the Revival of  the late '50s–early '60s.. I remember at St Gregory's RC Primary School singing with gusto
When me and my companions were
    setting of a snare

'Twas then we spied a gamekeeper
For him we did not care
For we can wrestle and fight,
    me boys,

And jump o'er anywhere...
A one-time colleague of mine, who already played the piano and the violin, during her teacher-training was required to learn the guitar so that she could maintain eye-contact with her pupils. As a consequence of this sort of thinking, today's schoolchildren can sing Kumbaya but not Sweet Lass of Richmond Hill.
The interjection "me boys" in that extract are significant in a mistake I am always tempted to make in Joys Seven, because the two-word interjection at the equivalent place is "good man" – and I find it hard to avoid the less devout version.

Words, though; they won't learn themselves.


PS: The blog is becoming increasingly popular; I may have celebrity followers. On 13 Nov I posed this clue (here):

Unprepossessing discount store stocking entertainer. (8)

And I think, as you've had a month, I can point to an Uxbridge English Dictionary item from the 6 December edition of  I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue which uses the same wordplay: Susan Calman  said,  "Grimaldi: A run-down supermarket". Hers is less cluttered, but it's essentially the same joke. Not that I'm discounting independent evolution of the idea; it's not that obscure.

Update: 2016.12.16.14:50  – Added PPS

And while we're on the subject of the words to Joys Seven, the sixth verse (which needs a rhyme for six) evokes in me another conditioned reflex from my old  St Gregory's days, provoked by the words "To see her own son Jesus Christ upon the crucifix".

A cross is a cross; an image of someone on one (there have been thousands of people tortured to death that way, if not  millions, but Christ is usually the one depicted) is a crucifix. I thought I'd better confirm this bit of pedantry, and it seems that dictionaries tend to agree:



Still, they needed a rhyme for six, and there aren't too many. Besides, the Collins English Dictonary is more forgiving:

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