The similar phrase 'Worldly Christianity' is one used by Bonhoeffer. It's J Gresham Machen that I want to line up most closely with. See his Christianity and culture here. Having done commentaries on Proverbs (Heavenly Wisdom) and Song of Songs (Heavenly Love), a matching title for Ecclesiastes would be Heavenly Worldliness. For my stance on worldliness, see 3 posts here.

A blog's Christmas in Wales

So I'm enjoying a pretty relaxing time with the family in London and Wales. We were up fairly early on Christmas Day to open presents together. Nothing particularly interesting I guess. We gave Rhodri a stylophone, which was fun. Mostly clothes. No CDs or many books for once. All Rhodri and Sibyl's gifts were from Vietnam (even my tie, which I would have expected to come from Tie-land) Eleri bought the boys a portable DVD so they watched Sleeping Beauty and Elf when we hit the road.
We had a decent turn out of around 50 in church, even though several were away. I preached on Luke 2:19.
We had goose for lunch, which was okay but not my favourite. We had invited one or two who were on their own but they declined and so we were on our own. We have also made trips to Wales - to Cardiff and Aber - to see various members of the family including my dad and sister who came to see us in Cardiff. I preached in Childs Hill on the Lord's Day from Isaiah 53 and a new year sermon on James 4. Again we were a decent number. We moved the evening service time forward and managed to fool our South African LTS friends, always a danger however well you publicise.
There's been time to play football with the boys and some friends in Aber on the astroturf, for some fun games (Kids trivia, Headbanz, Last word, Keep on humming, consequences, categories, drawing monsters, etc), eating and talking, TV (Gavin and Stacey - great, 39 Steps - poor) reading (Richard Evans on the Nazis, a festschrift for O Palmer Robertson, A child's Christmas in Wales [aloud] and a little Sense and sensibility) and rewatching It's a wonderful life.

JW darkness

We were giving out copies of the Christmas Evangelical Times. One lady, Samantha, who I've spoken to in the past, introduced herself as a JW (she has grwon up in the movement) and we spoke about whether Christmas is biblical and about soul sleep and the danger of trusting in an organisation, etc. Such a very nice lady (a lot nicer than me I would guess) but lost as lost can be.
Such encounters bring us back in part to election and God's inscrutable purposes. Why me? And why, as yet, not her? God is sovereign.

Van Leer Home Concert

Someone alerted me the other day to the existence of a new Thijs Van Leer CD which I have treated myself to for Christmas. It is called The home concert and was recorded back in 2005. As the title suggests this is a simple one angle fairly amateur production (in a good sense) by a friend of Thijs's (Daniel Earnshaw). The hybrid CD consists of video footage where Thijs is chiefly asked questions or talks through a piece. There are also a full 11 tracks of audio on piano and flute, mostly from the Focus 9 period. Two strangely titled tracks which I have partly heard before are called Amok in kindergarten and came in response to the Dunblane tragedy.
This is a lovely compilation revealing a true musical genius and a warm human being. Only for the converted I guess, which is a shame. To get a flavour check out Mr Earnshaw's website here.

Cyngerdd Nadolig

We went along to see the youngest boys Christmas concert the other night in the Welsh School. It was called Christmas around the world and was the usual mishmash. I think they'd reached Australia by this point.

Deck the Halls

We watched the 2006 Christmas comedy Deck the halls the other night and mostly enjoyed it. It has been widely panned (see here) but didn't seem any worse than any other such movie. (I notice that Christmas with the kranks which we went to see the other year and thought okay was also panned). Certainly Deck the halls had extraneous jokes, not a great soundtrack and few great moments but it was okay. I guess part of the thing with a film like this is who you're watching with. More here.

Brooks David's public spirit

In the intro to Thomas Brooks' Cabinet of choice jewels he commends public spirit at length and says by way of example

And so David was a man of a public spirit, for "after David had served his generation according to the will of God, he died and was buried," Acts 13:36. The Spirit of the Lord has put this upon record for David's honour and our imitation. David's soul did not live in a narrow bowling-alley. He was not a man of so poor, low, and narrow a spirit as to make himself the centre of his designs and actions. David was a man of a generous, noble spirit. The public good lay nearest his heart, and to serve his generation he was willing to spend and be spent.

The wren in the furze

One Christmas album I'm particularly enjoying again this year is the live Chieftains celebration from 1991 The Bells of Dublin featuring not only the Chieftains but several guests too. Towards the end there is a medley (The Wren! The Wren!) of 5 or 6 songs (The Arrival of the Wren Boys/The Dingle Set - Dance/The Wren in the Furze/A Dance Duet - Reels/Brafferton Village & Walsh's Hornpipe/Farewell:The Piper Through the Meadow Strayed/This is the Season to be Merry).

The medley reflects music that may have been heard when the wren boys came calling to bury the wren on St Stephen's Day (December 26) as they traditionally did in Ireland, Wales and elsewhere. (More here). The boys would chant (as is done here and as Kevin Conneff sings) "The wren, the wren, the king of all birds. Up with the kettle and down with the pan. Give us a penny to bury the wren." The medley features dance music, a couple of pieces by Northumbrian piper by Kathryn Tickell and my favourite - "The Wren in the Furze" which is as Irish as a song could be. Kevin Conneff sings the lead accompanied by the Voice Squad.

Children of Abraham

John 8:9 Abraham is our father, they answered. If you were Abraham's children, said Jesus, then you would do the things Abraham did.

Often in John's Gospel we find Jesus and the Jews talking at cross purposes and misunderstanding each other. Jesus has spoken to them about being free. They have responded that they have always been free – though what was going on in Egypt on this basis is hard to see. Part of their claim to freedom is tied to their being descendants of Abraham. It is a nationalistic argument. What Jesus is talking about is spiritual freedom – freedom not to sin. He is quite happy to acknowledge that they are Abraham's descendants but they are also children of the devil as sure as he is the Son of God. Of course, they do not follow his argument and reassert that they are Abraham's children. But Jesus counters that if they were truly Abraham's children in the fullest sense then they would not be planning to kill Jesus but would embrace him and his teaching. Paul later takes up this point that the true children of Abraham are those with the same faith not those with a mere biological connection to him. An adopted son who truly loves his father can be much more of a son to him than one who is biologically linked yet opposes all that his father holds dear. What matters is not being a direct descendant of Abraham, Jewish or whatever, but doing the thngs that Abraham did, which sprang from faith in God.

Imperfect world

My favourite guitarist Jan Akkerman has recently been working with a Balkan guitarist Vlatko Stefanovski and in a perfect world may be I could read Serbo-Croat. In a less than perfect world I can at least get this partly informative, partly humourous translation thanks to google. (My italics).

Therefore, neither the "Thunder from the Blue Sky" can not be considered as a big surprise, not even kuriozumom: a rock-soul must be, when then-gift blues, if at all aware of themselves, especially if, as Stefanovski, while still tirelessly and prebire by raznorodnim ethno-heritage.
Therefore you can say to a greater predstavlja miracle scenario in which Skopje master revealed the end of his career, and that it was not recorded significant piece of blues - than this, in which he plays an hour and twelve minutes, with triom in an entirely new set, nor pojačanoj even less than -
Janom Akkermanom.
Focus cult guitarist and
one of the largest gitarskih star of the sixties and seventies with the izrasao time in almost legendarnu figure as classic, and fusion; for Stefanovskoga even showed sudbinskim choice, considering that the two musicians met by chance on jazz-festival in Kumanovo.
Although the disc during a somewhat more difficult to conclude where the Akkerman, and begins Stefanovski, and vice versa, there is no doubt that cooperation from the jovial sky (whether hence the name of the album?) was in good measure affected - it shows, but also extremely intro "Amazing Grace" , in which recognizable,
very subtle guitar Stefanovskog bezgrešno fall into the well cosmic Akkermanovog arrangements.This super-miniature eklektična represents, however, only eksces in 'pravovjernom' rest of the album, which he (re) aranžerski fully signed Stefanovski - but how will it sound, much more clearly suggests šestominutni "Stormy Monday Blues," Blues sporokotrljajući epitaph T-Bone Walker.All those who had hopes Guitar duel Akkerman-Stefanovski, can forever stop visiting Betting: both musicians during the 72 minute only cooperate on the same task, without a twinge of competition.The movements will even okorjelije fans surely not find the quality of English in which Stefanovski without pardon sing all the texts. Brave maneuver, which has no: although he surely knew that no way will not be able to reach the relaxation (and related žovijalnost) crnačkih old masters, decided to catch the ukoštac with blues-vocal and largely succeeded - places where you accents and pronunciation zastružu by ear, you can enumerate fingers on a hand (eg "Need Your Love So Bad"), and his vocals holds water, although the range with years became something flat - each honor.

Jehoshaphat's prayer

2 Chronicles 20:12 O our God, will you not judge them? For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon you.

These words are the closing ones of a public prayer that good king Jehoshaphat made at a time when Judah was under threat from the Moabites and other enemies. It is a prayer that received a definite and positive response from God when first of all a prophet called Jahaziel assured Jehoshaphat and the people that the battle was the Lord's and then when victory in battle followed. In this particular verse there are four parts. First, a request – for judgement on their enemies whose cause was most unjust. Then there is confession – both of weakness and of ignorance as to what to do. Finally, there is that desperate yet hopeful but our eyes are upon you. Here is a model for prayer. Make your request, one that is shaped by the teaching of God's Word as this one was. Then confess your utter helplessness and your ignorance about what to do. Finally - look to the Lord. This should always be our attitude, whatever the crisis. If we fail to look to the Lord, for whatever reason, then we will suffer for it.

No more tears

Revelation 7:7 For the Lamb at the centre of the throne will be their shepherd; he will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.

Here is a great verse that is full of comfort for believers. One's eye immediately leaps to the statement that God will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Although as we grow older we generally cry less often, we conversely tend to see more reasons for tears. The idea of God's acting like a loving parent and using his hand to gently dry our eyes is a powerful and striking one. The shepherd figure that precedes the parental one is also striking, even more so when we consider that the shepherd is the Lamb, the Lord Jesus who was slain. Though at the centre of the throne of the universe, he also leads his grateful sheep to refreshing springs. The prospect for the believer then is not only the negative one of relief but just as much the more positive one of refreshment too. God is our Father and Christ our Shepherd here on earth – and even more so in the world to come. And so we press on.

Literary Lives

I noticed this fairly new series today.
Wordsworth Literary Lives makes available once more (they say) classic Biographies and Autobiographies of some of the most famous names in Literature. They give readers of Classic fiction a fascinating insight into the character and personality of these literary giants.
Each book has specially commissioned Notes & Introductions which put the books in their historical context, and in many cases include some interesting facts on the authors themselves, some of whom - Chesterton on Dickens for example - are famous in their own right.
More here.
Editions so far:
Austen-Leigh, J. Memoir of Jane Austen 256 9781840225600
Blind, M. George Eliot 9781840225693
Carswell, C. D.H.Lawrence (The Savage Pilgrimage) 256 9781840225686
Conrad, J. A Personal Record - Mirror of the Sea 304 9781840225723
Chesterton, G.K. Charles Dickens 176 9781840225624
Doyle, A.C. Memories & Adventures 368 9781840225709
Gaskell, E. The Life of Charlotte Brontë 448 9781840225648
Hardy,F. The Life of Thomas Hardy 528 9781840225594
Harris, F. George Bernard Shaw 9781840225662
Harris, F. The Man Shakespeare, His Tragic Life Story 9781840225631
Harris, F. Oscar Wilde: His Life & Confessions 400 9781840225549
Kipling, R. Something of Myself 144 9781840225679
Maude, A. The Life of Tolstoy 9781840225617
I bought the Dickens. The material is, of course, out of copyright and can be accessed here.

Beethoven's Muppet

Saw this over on Rhodri's blog - clever and funny right to the end.

Bloggy Man 47

A precious remedy

Looking at Thomas Brooks' Precious Remedies I noticed this slightly seasonal (see italics)antidote to Satan's painting sin with virtuous colours.

REMEDY 4 Seriously to consider, That even those very sins that Satan paints, and puts new names and colours upon, cost the best blood, the noblest blood, the life-blood, the heart-blood of the Lord Jesus.
That Christ should come from the eternal bosom of his Father to a region of sorrow and death; that God should be manifested in the flesh, the Creator made a creature; that he who was clothed with glory should be wrapped with rags of flesh; he who filled heaven and earth with his glory should be cradled in a manger; that the almighty God should flee from weak man — the God of Israel into Egypt; that the God of the law should be subject to the law, the God of the circumcision circumcised, the God who made the heavens working at Joseph's homely trade; that he who binds the devils in chains should be tempted; that he, whose is the world, and the fullness thereof, should hunger and thirst; that the God of strength should be weary, the Judge of all flesh condemned, the God of life put to death; that he who is one with his Father should cry out of misery, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" (Matt. 27:46); that he who had the keys of hell and death at his belt should lie imprisoned in the sepulchre of another, having in his lifetime nowhere to lay his head, nor after death to lay his body; that that HEAD, before which the angels do cast down their crowns, should be crowned with thorns, and those EYES, purer than the sun, put out by the darkness of death; those EARS, which hear nothing but hallelujahs of saints and angels, to hear the blasphemies of the multitude; that FACE, which was fairer than the sons of men, to be spit on by those beastly wretched Jews; that MOUTH and TONGUE, which spoke as never man spoke, accused for blasphemy; those HANDS, which freely swayed the scepter of heaven, nailed to the cross; those FEET, "like unto fine brass," nailed to the cross for man's sins; each sense pained with a spear and nails; his SMELL, with stinking odor, being crucified on Golgotha, the place of skulls; his TASTE, with vinegar and gall; his HEARING, with reproaches, and SIGHT of his mother and disciples bemoaning him; his SOUL, comfortless and forsaken; and all this for those very sins that Satan paints and puts fine colors upon! Oh! how should the consideration of this stir up the soul against sin, and work the soul to fly from it, and to use all holy means whereby sin may be subdued and destroyed!

Bismarck Quote

According to A J P Taylor Otto Von Bismarck the German leader interestingly once said
A statesman cannot create anything himself. He must must wait and listen until he hears the steps of God sounding through events, then leap up and grasp the hem of His garment.

X-Box 360

The x-box 360 is proving very popular with the boys these days. mostly they play FIFA 2009. More here.

Is this the way to Amaryllis?

The amaryllis plant is apparently a favourite for Christmas. A South American tropical beauty it is supposed to be easy to grow and exhibits huge colorful blooms in red, pink, white or orange. It blooms like no other bulb. Usually a bulb will produce 1-2 tall flower scapes each featuring up to 4 flowers. This is ours.

Oh yes they did

The youngest boys had a school trip to see a pantomime today - Peter Pan at the Richmond Theatre. Bonnie Langford was Peter and Simon Callow Hook. They enjoyed it though they were surprised that Peter Pan was a woman and that you could see the wires when people flew. Eleri found the obnoxious attitudes of the kids from private schools a pain. Ah London life.


Popped into Foyles on the way home. I hadn't been there for a while. I'd forgotten what a delight a really well stocked bookshop can be. Not the obvious place for bargains but a joy nevertheless. Website here.

George Whitefield

This painting of Whitefield hangs in the vestibule of the American church. Probably not contemporary it looks fairly accurate and is rarely seen.


Rhodri continues to download his videos to Youtube and on his blog. I liked these two. HE still has a head (and a beard again now - mae yn blewog).

Grace publications

Grace Publications Trust have purchased an eminently portable banner recently. I took it from the meeting on Friday and used it in Pains Hill adn at the Westminster Conference. I then put it up last night in the church. If you double click you might be able to read it.

Quotation Thomas Watson

In his Art of divine contentment Thomas Watson writes
Grace is beyond gifts; thou comparest thy grace with another’s gifts, there is a vast difference; grace without gifts is infinitely better than gifts without grace. In religion, the vitals are best; gifts are a more extrinsical and common work of the Spirit, which is incident to reprobates; grace is a more distinguishing work, and is a jewel hung only upon the elect. Hast thou the seed of God, the holy anointing? Be content.
Thou sayest thou canst not discourse with that fluency as others. Experiments in religion are beyond notions and impressions beyond expressions. Judas (no doubt) could make a learned discourse on Christ, but well-fared the woman in the gospel that felt virtue coming out of him, (Lk 8:47) a sanctified heart is better than a silver tongue. There is as much difference between gifts and graces, as between a tulip painted on the wall and one growing in the garden.
Thou sayest thou canst not pray with that elegancy as others. Prayer is a matter more of the heart than the head. In prayer it is not so much fluency that prevails, as fervency, (Jas 5:16) nor is God so much taken with the elegancy of speech as the effficacy of the Spirit. Humility is better than volubility; here the mourner is the orator; sighs and groans are the best rhetoric.

Ted Hughes Parson Grimshaw

Ted Hughes (1930-98), poet laureate from 1984 until his death, was brought up in the village of Mytholmroyd, near Haworth and the effect of Grimshaw’s ministry upon the whole area had also left a strong impression on him. Faith Cook notes that writing in Remains of Elmet in 1979, Hughes could say of Grimshaw:

To judge by the shock-wave that can still be felt … he struck the whole region like a planet … To a degree, he changed the very landscape. His heavenly fire, straight out of Blake’s Prophetic Books, shattered the terrain into biblical landmarks; quarries burst open like craters, and chapels – the bedrock transfigured – materialised, standing in them.

Westminster Conference 02

The second day of conference was at least as good as if not better than the first day. Certainly the standard of discussion seemed a little better. Robert Oliver, Jeremy Walker and Robert Strivens chaired.
We kicked off with Westminster Seminary West President Robert Godfrey on tradition. Drawing on the work of Heiko Oberman (The Dawn of the Reformation) and one or two others he helpfully untangled the muddle of tradition using Oberman's three types and adding a fourth of his own. Oberman says
"Whereas in Tradition I truth is grasped and held through reflection on Holy Scripture and in Tradition II through reflection on Scripture and Tradition ... (in) Tradition III, truth is grasped and held by introspection and self-analysis on the part of the Church focused in the Teaching office".
So T1 is a school of interpretation such as the Reformed one; T2 involves an appeal to oral tradition as is common in Eastern Orthodoxy; T3 is tied up with J H Newman's idea of development of doctrine.
Godfrey's T4 includes ideas passed won that are a matter of prudence rather Scripture.
Having set this out at some length and illustrated it by reference to the controversy over images, Dr Godfrey went on to speak of the necessity of certain traditions and the usefulness of others. he closed by warning of the obvious dangers of traditions.
Of course, the difficulty is in disentangling what sort of traditions our traditions are.
In the second session Jonathan Watson tackled Thomas Brooks' excellent Precious remedies against Satan's devices. This sort of paper can be done badly but was done very well on this occasion. After a brief biography (there is not much to say as we have seen on this blog) we had a four point summary of how to deal with Satan's devices.
1. Know yourself
2. Know your enemy (his names, pervasiveness, hatred for us, great experience and his requiring a double leave to move - from God and then from you!)
3. Know your weapons
4. Helpful directions for Christian soldiers - there were 10 of these, to do with obeying the Word, not grieving the Spirit, seeking heavenly wisdom, resisting at the first moment, endeavouring to be Spirit filled, keeping humble, being on guard, keeping up communion with God, never relying on self and being much in prayer.
The book contains 38 devices and 189 remedies!
The final paper, given by Faith Cook, was on William Grimshaw. Much of this material was familiar to some of us but it was good to be reminded again of his example in this anniversary year.
On a personal note I have found the conference most heart warming. I especially appreciated the reminder of the Puritans commitment to godliness through disciplined highlighted in Brooks' gem of a work.

Westminster Conference 01

It was good to be one of around 200 today who gathered in the American Church in Tottenham Court Road for the first day of the annual Westminster Conference. We had three papers from three older men - Iain Murray, John J Murray and Paul Brown. Erroll Hulse, Robert Oliver and Phil Arthur chaired. J J Murray has recently produced a book on the rise of the Reformed movement and he sought to recap on some of that. Paul Brown looked helpfully at the life of the first principal of London Bible College, Ernest Kevan. Perhaps the best paper was Iain Murray's on what we can learn from the Puritans. He considered six areas -

1. The vital nature of conversion
2. The need for method and structure to live the Christian life
3. The sanctification of the Lord's Day
4. The importance of Christian unity - not developed but perhaps it will be in the printed paper
5. The danger of Roman Catholicism
6. The power of the preached Word

Sadly, discussion was as unproductive as ever. It is difficult to see how it can be improved unless we distribute papers before hand.

Kerst met Thijs & Co

One of the delights of the season is getting out my Christmas CDs especially these 4 Thijs Van Leer offerings from 1976, 1982, 1996 and 2000. Each of the albums is slightly different in its approach and they include a variety of musicians accompanying Thijs's flute. Some 54 tracks are presented altogether, mostly Christmas carols. Several tracks are repeated - Ave Maria, Away in a manger (on 3 of the 4), Gloria in excelsis Deo, Hark the herald, Joy to the world, Mary had a baby, O Jesulein Suss, Silent Night.
Also there are the Adeste Fideles, Coventry Carol, Ding Dong Merrily on High, Er is een Kindeke geboren op aard´, Es ist ein Ros´ entsprungen, For unto us a Child is born, God rest ye merry Gentlemen, Hoe leit dit Kindeke, Ich steh´ an deiner Krippen hier, In the bleak midwinter, Maria die zoude naar Bethlehem gaan, Mary's Boychild, Mary Sing Alleluia, Schlummert Ein, Süsser Trost Mein Jesus Kommt, The First Noel, The Royal Line, Tous Les Bourgeois de Chatre, Vom Himmel hoch and What child is this (Greensleeves).
There are more secular Christmas songs on the two later albums - Deck the halls, I'll be home for Christmas, When a child is born and White Christmas - and some tracks that have no obvious Christmas connection (Rondo 1, Fin de Siecle, House of the King, I have a dream, Tango, pieces by Corelli and Vinci).
Things can get a little muzacky at times but all in all these are great albums mainly highlighting the solo flute skills of a great musician.

Penblwydd hapus Rhods

Pains Hill Chapel

I set off around 9 am yesterday to travel the 33 miles through London to the little country chapel on Pains Hill near Oxted and Limpsfield in Surrey. Most of the journey is very familiar due to several recent trips to Gatwick. I've preached there more than once before anyway. The connection is an Aber University friend who is in the congregation. As it turned out he was unwell and so I didn't get to stay with the Averies but had a very nice afternoon with the Copemans who I did not know at all. Alan is heavily involved in Pilgrim Homes and it was interesting to find out more about them.
The chapel is very well looked after. The people are serious minded and appreciative of the Word too, though they all travel in to the chapel. (Someone told me that the illustrator Arthur Rackham [1867-1934] used to live next door, which I'd not realised before.) I preached on Mark 8:1-10 and Ephesians 2:1. I'd been at a GPT meeting last Friday and so I took some leaflets along and put up our new roll out display. I was encouraged when one woman said she'd gone to the Evangelical Library to try and read Luther, etc but found it hard going. They recommended to her GPT's Christian Classics (abridgements of the greats) and she found it really helpful. Being involved in both organisations I was glad to know they'd been such a help.

Christmas meal

We had a Christmas meal mainly for older folk at the chapel on Saturday. My wife and a deacon's wife ably assisted by others provided an excellent meal for a round a dozen. I spoke briefly on Bethlehem and we finished off with a quiz. It was alovely time. We tried it two years ago but weren't able to get it together last year. I'm glad we did this time round. it was really appreciated by those able to be there.

Rhodri's back (and front)

Rhodri got back from Vietnam last Wednesday. I collected him from Gatwick first thing. He was wearing this T shirt. On the front is his name (as Sibyl says it anyway). The Vietnamese just couldn't get it at all. On the back it says "You're worth a square world" (a genuine idiom he reckons). He's busy updating his blog but should be over today to celebrate his 19th birthday.

Dechrau canmol

The youngest boys were singing with their friends from the Welsh School on Welsh TV yesterday on the Welsh equivalent of Songs of praise Dechrau canu Dechrau canmol (start to sing, start to praise?) The programme was recorded last week in a Welsh Baptist chapel in central London (see here). One has mixed feelings about such things but such programmes do some good I'm sure. The producer has managed to get them sounding very good. For the next month or so the programme is available here. Huw Edwards introduces the short piece (Little drummer boy) around the 11:40 mark. Click the owl for subtitles.

Michael Praetorius

In the December Grace Magazine I notice that, among other good things, Mike Perrin has an article chiefly on the composer Michael Praetorius (1571-1621). Praetorius is well covered on the net. See here (wikipedia) and here (Cyberhymnal) and here and here, etc. I knew In dulci jubilo, of course and Ein Ros ist Entsprungen but not much more I confess. The above is just an audio track featuring two nice dances from his terpsichore.

Drive the Cold Winter Away

As a little Christmas treat I recently downloaded Horslips 1975/6 acoustic album Drive the cold winter away. It has lost some of its impact over the years (now everyone does the unplugged thing) but it is a lovely and quietly Christmassy album. It has 13 quite short tracks using mandolins, fiddles, tin whistles, banjos, harpsichords, etc. Brilliant!

1. We start with a medieval arrangement of Rug Muire Mac do Dhia (Mary Bore a Son to God) a traditional carol in Gaelic (probably Jim Lockhart's voice).
2. Next up is Sir Festus Burke a jolly Carolan tune. It's joined with the festive Planxty Tom Judge known as Carolan's Frolic.
3. The Snow that Melts the Soonest was picked up from a Newcastle street singer in 1821 and reminds us of fiddle player Charles O'Connor's North Eastern roots. it must be him singing.
4. The Piper in the Meadow Straying is a hornpipe suggested by guitarist Johnny Fean. It has a "Deck the Halls" feel.
5. Playford's "Dancing Master" 1651 is the official source for Drive the Cold Winter Away and was contributed by keyboard player and flautist Jim Lockhart. Some nice banjo work here. It was this tune's use in the recent BBC Tess that reminded me of the album. They resist singing until the very last line.
6. Thompson's and Cottage in the Grove are a pair of reels featuring O'Connor's concertina
7. Ny Kirree fa Naghtey (Lockhart sining again) is a Manx carol. The title translates as The Sheep 'neath the Snow. Manx is quite like Donegal Irish and Scots Gaelic (in Irish the title is Na Caoirigh faoi Shneachta)
8/9. Crabs in the Skillet is a jig played with Denis O'Connor, another Carolan tune first played on Christmas day 1723.
10. Lockhart again sings on the Gaelic carol Do'n oiche ud i mbeithil (that night in Bethlehem)
11. The Lullaby is done as an instrumental but can be sung with various words
12. The Snow And The Frost Are All Over/Paddy Fahey's instrumentals
13. When a Man's in Love is another O'Connor suggestion. Presumably he sings.