Saturday, 23 December 2017

#ChristmasCarols & Seasonal Songs: The Colne Valley Carol & A Child's Christmas In #Yorkshire

Daily Constitutional Editor and Rock'n'Roll London Guide Adam takes a listen to some Christmas music and looks for London connections…

The last word goes to Kim and a musical odyssey that sweeps from the green hills of Yorkshire down our dear old London town.

With a little nod to Dylan Thomas I'm going to subtitle this one A Child's Christmas In Yorkshire…

Kim writes…

I'm a bit of a sucker for Christmas carols and far prefer them to the slushy nonsense that gets piped into every shop from October onwards.  I have loads of memories of growing up in Yorkshire and carol singing in the snow going from house to house and collecting for charity and ending up at the "big house" where we were rewarded with hot chocolate and mince pies. 

It all sounds quite Downton Abbey, doesn't it?

On Christmas morning, our family was always serenaded by the Marsden Silver Prize Brass Band who walked around the village playing carols and again collecting for the annual Old Folks Party which took place in the summer.  Several of my school friends played in the band and would be out there performing.

Today, I love carol singing and the ones I like most are the ones that don't appear that often -  so In The Bleak Midwinter and The Colne Valley Carol.  This last one is one that you won't all know but is sung in every church in the Yorkshire Valley.  It's traditionally sung in other places at Easter but that never stands in anyone's way in Marsden.

The Colne Valley Carol is sung to the tune of "Hosannah, Loud Hosannah" which is a Palm Sunday hymn.

The words are changed to the following:

That joyous birthday morning
The heavens with music rang,
When hosts of wondrous angels
The first glad tidings rang.
And still in town and village
O'er hill and o'er plain
The joyous Christmas message
Comes ringing once again.

God grant that these our children
In years to come may sing
In harmony of spirit
That  peace on earth can bring.
May each unto his neighbour
Give love and happiness
So shall the world around us
The babe of Bethlehem bless

Nothing too uncontroversial there, I guess (for a Christian audience at least) but we had a new minister in the mid 70s who banned the carol on the grounds that it had been "made up" and was an Easter song.

Now there are lots of things you might want to mess with in West Yorkshire but Methodist hymn singing is not one of them and the minister lasted just over a year before deciding he needed a different area to minister to - one that presumably took their Christmas carols from the orthodox hymn book.

First time I've thought about this in a long time but the Christmas carol service in church was always in candlelight and it's a bit goosebumpy to think about it now.

And finally, my all time favourite Christmas music to both sing and listen to is Handel's Messiah.  Totally majestic and sung by every church choir in the Huddersfield area every year.  And here we are, back in London where the work itself was composed.

So, take the opportunity to visit Handel's House in Brook Street Mayfair where the work was conceived.  Take a trip to the Abbey and see his grave or attend the church of St George's Hanover Square where he played the organ. 

Or join me on Secret London to see the tomb of one of his greatest friends and hear of the work he did for charity and children.  Every Tuesday morning, 10.45am, Chancery Lane tube station - not on Boxing Day but back from 2 January.

About Your Correspondent


Kim, who has worked in the House of Commons and the European Parliament, is another 24-carat Blue Badge Guide: she won the London Tourist Board's Guide of the Year award in 2001.

DC Editor Adam adds…

I do hope you've enjoyed this short musical series. Last week I asked London Walkers & London Walks Guides to pick their favourite seasonal music. Here's the finished playlist…

Christmas 2017 With London Walks…

On Christmas Day there are TWO London Walks: 

Walk up an appetite with The Christmas Morning 1660 Walk – meet at 11:00a.m by the big tree in Trafalgar Square

Walk off the pudding with The Christmas Day Charles Dickens Walk – meet by the big tree in Trafalgar Square at 2:00pm

A London Walk costs £10 – £8 concession. To join a London Walk, simply meet your guide at the designated tube station at the appointed time. Details of all London Walks can be found at

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