Summon the Sun

by Crosscurrents Music

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    Ancient and original songs and poems of midwinter rites and riots for the winter solstice season. Includes an illustrated PDF slide deck of liner notes and lyrics suitable for enjoying onscreen or in print.
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1.
Star Stories 01:34
Music was still ringing in my ears As I stepped out under the stars. Silence. Sudden silence. Black, and frost, and midnight. Just the wheel of the world going round Over my head. Just space. Black space, like rhythm. The space between the notes. The breath before the song. Huge space, big as an indrawn breath. Stars shape the space into stories. Sword of Orion. The dancing Bull. Seven shining Sisters, snowflakes clustered as a chord. Sickle Leo, curving mane into a crown. Betelgeuse pulses wise as the wassail fire, Burns bright as the Fool's wild heart. The stories hang there in the stars. Draw breath at midnight, And feel them catch In midwinter's throat.
2.
I (tune: Hey Ho, Nobody Home) Melody born of melody Melts the world into a sea This is music, music-born IIa (tune: Zum, Gali Gali Gali) Crackling and spurting of hemlock in the flames Crackling and spurting of hemlock in the flames IIb (tune: Zum, Gali Gali Gali descant) Pine logs lend glory to the walls And faces in the sitting room III (tune: God Rest Ye, Merry Gentlemen) She lays her beams in music, In music every one, To the cadence of the whirling world Which dances round the sun.
3.
They come, the winter women, at harvest time Turning the great Yule wheel, cross-quartered, Down Persephone's dark road While the earth weeps a mother's tears. The Baba comes to the barn, Corn Mother, Corn Maiden, Old Wife, Oatwife Tossed high on the harvest, dancing, queening it she comes The year's last sheaf come home. Creeping she comes, the Old Wife of the Celts, Cailleach Bheur, hag goddess, crag goddess, Leaping from the rocks to lock the Bride of spring away. She whistles up her winter winds, that pack of dogs That follow dark Frau Gaude on her icy rounds. Keening she comes! You careless ones, Who leave your doorways cracked ajar Will hear her dogs' keen whining at your hearth. You lazy spinsters, mind your distaff's full And wind your spindles tidy by the fire Lest Berchta send you plague or blind your eyes for spying. Sweep your altar stone And pile the green boughs high to call her forth To tell your future in the flames where past and present mingle at your hearth. Bright candle flames now wreath her, crowned in lingonberry, Saint Lucia bringing light out of the heart of Northern darkness. She brings you gifts of plenty, La Befana sweeping on her broom Beware, and honor her! Lest your Epiphany be black as coal. Black it was, in the beginning, When the sun was on the far side of the world And Spider Woman made the long journey with her pot of clay To bring the sun back to the Cherokee. Mary brought the Son, they say, the Prince of Peace -- For unto us a child is born! and the year begins anew. Children carol for her, Kolyada, whiterobed in her snowy sleigh In her deep Russian woods of frozen winter streams where the winter nymphs, Rusalky, sing their secret solstice songs. There in those winter woods was born the snegurochka, Snow Maiden, Ancient spirit, daughter of spring and winter come to earth. At Candlemas, cross-quarter time, the Old Hag springs again, But this time Brigit's cross wheels high above the door And the frail Snow Maiden melts into her summer lover's arms. See where they come, the winter women, in the bleak midwinter night To summon up the sun and bring us light.
4.
What shall he have that killed the deer? The horn, the lusty horn His leather skin and horns to wear The horn, the lusty horn. |: The horn, the horn, the lusty horn Tis not a thing to laugh to scorn. :| Take no scorn to wear the horn the horn, the lusty horn It was the crest ere you were born, The horn, the lusty horn. Your father’s father’s father bore The horn, the lusty horn And your father’s father wore The horn, the lusty horn.
5.
Hang your homes with garlic! The werewolves are abroad From the last day of November, when vampires roam the road. Saint Andrew's Day, they call it still, in Romania they say The spirits of the dead will rise and winter's on its way. The sun slides into darkness, at midwinter stands it still And out the trolls of Christmas come from hollow cave and hill. Since Saturn penned the Titans imprisoned in the earth The children of the gods return to walk the winter earth. Shrieking and capering down they whirl When the veil is thinned to the underworld. Kari, Frosti, Brim-Thursar Come from Sweden’s snows afar. Black frost, snowbank, drifting snow, Giants o'er the fields do go. Mountain wind from hall and town Shrieks the winter darkness down. Shouting and galloping down the sky Comes Odin's band, the Jolerei. 'Tis Death to see them, thunder rolls O'er this poor lost band of hungry souls. See where he comes, the firedrake King Arthur himself with his Gabriel Rache The fireghost dogs and the Mari Lywd Welsh horse of the Hunt King Gwynn Ap Nudd. The hunt is up and they ride abroad In search of souls for the underworld. At Christmas Eve the ghosts come in To hold their revels once again. At hearth and hall your offerings leave That you your loved ones may not grieve. Crockery shattered and feasts spoiled sorry This must be the work of the kallikantzaroi. From down the Greek mountains these winter trolls scurry To carry off children born of winter's hurry. If you'd ward off their mischief, build your Christmas fire big And hang upon your mantel the jawbone of a pig. Julnissen, jultomten, Christmas lads They'll pinch and poke, unruly cads. Steal your sausage, scatter grain Snuff your candles, cause you pain. Beware you boys who ski at night Old Stalo will steal you in cold moonlight. But leave a rock into your place And steal away with winter's haste. The tomten leave gifts from their packs But leave with children stuffed in sacks!
6.
When I was a little baby A-sittin' on my mamma's knee I picked up a shovel and a handful of snow Said, shovelin's gonna be the death of me, Lord, Lord Said, shovelin's gonna be the death of me. My neighbor said unto me, Gonna bring that snowblower 'round Gonna fetch that snowblower home from the store Snowblow my driveway on down, Lord, Lord Snowblow my driveway on down. I said unto my neighbor Woman ain't more than a man But before I let your snowblower beat me I'll die with my shovel in my hand, Lord, Lord I'll die with my shovel in my hand. Well, the man who invented snowblowers He thought he was mighty fine But I shoveled my driveway and I backed out my car Before my neighbor unclogged his fuel line, Lord Lord Before my neighbor unclogged his fuel line. I shoveled most of that morning With my shovel strikin' fire I shoveled so hard I threw out my lower back And I laid down my shovel like to die, Lord Lord Laid down my shovel like to die. Well, now, I ain't got no John Henry To call me Polly Ann But you know until he comes along I can shovel my driveway like a man, Lord Lord Shovel my driveway like a man. And if I have a little baby You could hold in the palm of your hand The first words her daddy's gonna teach her to say, Your mama shovels fast as I can, Lord Lord Mama shovels fast as I can. Well, now every snowy morning When the plows begin to sing You can hear my shovel for a mile or more Hear my snow shovel ring, Lord Lord Hear my snow shovel ring.
7.
Room, room, brave gallants all and give us room to rhyme! We come to show activity this winter solstice time. The roots of our great festival lie hidden at the base Of Yggdrasil, the World Tree and these for you I'll trace. The Haida have a trickster shapeshifter full of fun ‘Twas Raven fooled the Old Ones and stole us back the sun. At Hanukkah the lights do blaze for eight nights and a day And Maccabees do celebrate midwinter victory. Saint George shall come and die by swords that circle round his neck As winter dies, so shall he die, and then to life like spring. In Sweden, Saint Lucia brings her little Christmas Jul, And Saturnalia brings from Rome the ancient Feast of Fools. A star shone over Bethlehem to guide the wise men three And in Japan it's time to cut your Kadomatsu tree. In the pueblos of New Mexico they dance the matachin And light the luminaria to guide the Wise Men in. For African-Americans, it's Kwanzaa time tonight For seven spirit principles to show the inner light. For the Iroquois, the snow-snakes are the game of winter feasts Where Big Heads go a-visiting to banish winter's beast. In northern lands around the world the fires are alight To drive away the darkness on this the longest night. We bid you carol with us, sing wassail every one To welcome in the New Year and summon up the sun!
8.
Rise the sun, and run the deer Winter's Christmas King is here! Master of the revels and ruler of the feast He bids you turn the tables from the greatest to the least! From the Romans Saturnalia to the Norsemen's feast of Yule Where twelve days crack the calendar and crown the King of Fools He comes to banish winter and to summon up the sun Drive out the dark! Ring in the New! Wassail him, every one! Lord of Misrule is crowned here welcome or welcome not This cake has heads to crown tonight from out our chosen lot! Now who will rule this revel? Who will be our Solstice Queen? And who her winter consort, the Great King of the Bean? Cut a slice, and find the Babe And you King of the Bean are made! Find the shilling, find the Queen, All hail the Good Queen of the Bean! The bean, the bean, the magic bean, Red for the King and white for the Queen! Ladies hunt white beans and gentlemen red, With holly and ivy we’ll crown your fair head! (when the beans are found in the cake) The King! The King! The King of the Bean! The Queen! The Queen! The Queen of the Bean! (crowning the two who found the beans) Queen shall have silver and King shall have gold Our master and mistress you now shall behold! Rise the sun and run the deer Twelve days, each a month of the new year! Play you organ, sing you choir Welcome Yule with wassail fire! Lord and Lady of this hall We’ll do our best to please you all And as we foot it heel and toe Pray, bless us all with mistletoe!
9.
In Somerset there lived two sons of a farmer who passed away The elder son was vain and mean, the younger merry and gay The elder son was left the farm, to his brother naught gave he Save a tiny plot with a feeble ox, a donkey and apple tree. Old apple tree, we'll wassail thee and hoping thou wilt bear The Lord doth know where we shall be to be merry another year To blow well and to bear well and so merry let us be Let everyone drink up a cup, here's health to the old apple tree. Good husbandman was the younger son, he tended the ox and ass He patched their stable walls and roof and he led them to sweet grass And he poured the cider round about and a wassail song sang he To the spirit guard of the orchard wood, the Man of the Apple Tree. (insert chorus after every first, second or third verse as audience & time permit) On Christmas Eve the rent from him his brother did demand And at midnight the elder should summon him to where treasure lay on the land To the farmer spoke the Apple Tree Man in a voice so rich and rare "Go dig beneath the apple tree, the treasure awaits you there." The younger son went to the tree and he dug as he was told And there beneath the roots he found a wooden chest heavy with gold. Hide it away, it now is yours," said the voice from out the tree "And your brother call to the stable door as he bids you, merrily." The elder son came silently, to the stable door did creep And the ox and ass, as was foretold, of the treasure they did speak. "He thinks to learn, the greedy fool, where the treasure lies from me," Said the ox and then the ass replied, "Twas taken long since from the tree." The Apple Tree Man spoke not a word as he stood in the orchard good But shook with mirth and an apple rolled to his feet where the farmer stood. So the greedy son he went without while the wise one prospered free And each Christmastide for all his days he wassailed the Apple Tree. (chorus)
10.
Like antlers, like veins of the brain, the birches Mark patterns of mind on the red winter sky I am thought of all plants, says the Green Man I am thought of all plants, says he. (repeat) The ashes are clashing their boughs like sword dancers As the black buds to trace a wild face in the clouds I come with the wind, says the Green Man I come with the wind, says he. (repeat) The Alders are rattling as though ready for battle Guarding the grove where she waits for her lover; 'I burn with desire, 'says the Green Man, 'I burn with desire, 'says he. In and out of the yellowing wands of the willow The pollen-bright bees are plundering the catkins; 'I am honey of love, 'says the Green Man, 'I am honey of love, 'says he. The hedges of quick are thick with May-blossom As the dancers advance on the leaf-covered King It’s off with my head, says the Green Man It’s off with my head, says he (repeat) Green Man becomes grown man in flames of the oak As it's crown forms his mask and it's leafage his features; 'I speak through the oak, 'says the Green Man 'I speak though the oak, 'say he. The holly is flowering as hayfields are rolling Their gleaming long grasses like waves of the sea; 'I shine with the sun, 'says the Green Man, 'I shine with the sun, 'says he, The hazels are rocking the cups of their nuts As harvesters shout when the last sheaf is cut; 'I swim with the salmon, 'says the Green man, 'I swim with the salmon, 'says he. The globes of the grapes are robing with bloom Like the hazes of Autumn,like the Milky Way's stardust; 'I am crushed for your drink,'says the Green man, 'I am crushed for your drink,'says he, The aspen drops silver of leaves on earth's salver And the poplars shed gold on the young ivy flower heads; 'I have paid for your pleasure,'says the Greenman, 'I have paid for your pleasure,'says he. The reed beds are flanking in silence the islands Where meditates Wisdom as she waits and waits: 'I have kept her secret, 'says the Green Man, 'I have kept her secret, 'says he. The bark of the elder makes whistles for children To call to the deer as the rove over the snow; 'I am born in the dark, 'says the Green Man, 'I am born in the dark, 'says he.
11.
At Tara in this fateful hour I place all Heaven with its power, And the sun with its brightness, And the snow with its whiteness, And fire with all the strength it hath, And lightning with its rapid wrath, And the winds with their swiftness along their path, And the sea with its deepness, And the rocks with their steepness, And the earth with its starkness: All these I place, By God’s almighty help and grace, Between myself and the powers of darkness.

about

These recitations were made in the mid-1990s for a variety of midwinter festivities, including a Christmas Revels-inspired folk theatre show in Minneapolis, MN that I wrote and directed for Tapestry Folk Dance Center, and another for the Emerson Umbrella in Concord, MA. Thanks to all the ensembles who spoke these words to life.

Over the years these pieces have found favor farther than I would have thought possible from my obscure website. Never before published as a collection, I pass them on to you with the hope that they may become part of your midwinter traditions.

This album comes with an illustrated PDF slide deck of liner notes and lyrics suitable for enjoying onscreen or in print.

credits

released December 2, 2020

The Green Man (c) WIlliam Anderson arr. Lynn Noel. All other tracks (c) Lynn Noel, Crosscurrents Music.

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Some rights reserved. Please refer to individual track pages for license info.

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Crosscurrents Music Boston, Massachusetts

Lynn Noel brings traditional song and heritage arts online to create digital community. Lynn has a voice of striking clarity and power, equally at home in rhythmic chanteys and flowing ballads.

Lynn is a respected song session leader on both sides of the Atlantic and the producer and host of the Mermaid's Tavern online folk club. She has earned awards from the IUCN, NRCA, and CDSS.
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