Friday, 13 November 2020

Joys Seven

In a Zoom rehearsal last night we were introduced to a new setting by our MD of the carol Joys Seven.

In less pestilential times, before singing a more traditional (or less fiendishly difficult, perhaps) version of this carol I wrote:

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

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.

And, in a update to the same post I added this oft-picked nit:

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:

On re-reading this I didn't see at first what justified my word "forgiving"; but there is a reading of this (which would be clarified by a comma after the second word) that makes the last phrase apply exclusively to "image of a cross". (And I wouldn't put such low standards of punctuation past the editors. :-) )

But time's wingėd chariot is doing its usual thing; Phoebus's jolly old cart...


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