Here we are now during a few golden days of Autumn and I have a chance to catch up on news about the Carol Book research.
Research: We spent the Spring and Summer visiting the Cornish Studies library in Redruth (like a sweet shop to us!) gathering information on all the publications made about Cornish Carols. Unlike our previous book on the pub songs, there is a wealth of writing about this topic going as far back as Davies Gilbert (1823) and Sandys (1852) right up to the present day re-publications by the Old Cornwall Society of some of the old Carol Books; so much to read and absorb!
We were very excited to discover in the library a notebook, probably dating from the late 1700s and possibly from the Hayle area, with four beautifully handwritten carols, two of which are in our singers’ repertoire; A Virgin Most Pure and To Mirth Inclined (although there were 28 verses in the notebook!) One other, Gods Dear Son, has now entered the Cornish instrumental tradition as An Dufynyans, which my band, Dalla, recently recorded! That only leaves one, called Remember Oh Thou Man, which is in both the Hutchins manuscript collection from the Penzance area (approx 1825) and in Sandys’ however the tune in the latter collection is the same as one in an even older British collection called the Melismata from 1611!
Interviews: As well as visiting the library and doing lots of reading we have been fortunate enough to visit several people with knowledge of Carols in their area and have now recorded a wealth of memories and stories from Polperro to St Ives!
We have a few more interviews to go before we do our final recordings this Christmas. I’m glad to say we won’t be quite as busy as last year and our dates for these Carol trips so far are:
Monday 28th November – Carol concert, Parkhouse Centre, Bude
Sunday 11th December – Merritt Concert, Redruth Wesley Chapel
Saturday 17th December – Cotehele Wassail, Calstock
Saturday 24th December – Falmouth Docks
We have heard that some Cornish carols are sung at Camelford on Boxing Day, so if anyone knows about this we’d love to hear from you!