Thursday, December 21

Down in Yon Forest

Some of the very best Christmas carols were originally written as Eucharistic hymns--usually intended for use during Christmas Eve communion services. That appears to be the case with the delightful Down in Yon Forest. Perhaps the most familiar version of this traditional six-stanza folk cycle was collected and arranged by the American balladeer, John Jacob Niles. But my favorite is that of the great English composer, Ralph Vaughan Williams:

Down in yon forest there stands a hall:
The bells of Paradise I heard them ring:
It's covered all over with purple and pall:
And I love my Lord Jesus above anything.

In that hall there stands a bed:
The bells of Paradise I heard them ring:
It's covered all over with scarlet so red:
And I love my Lord Jesus above anything.

At the bedside there lies a stone:
The bells of Paradise I heard them ring:
Which the sweet Virgin Mary knelt upon:
And I love my Lord Jesus above anything.

Under that bed there runs a flood:
The bells of Paradise I heard them ring:

The one half runs water, the other runs blood:
And I love my Lord Jesus above anything.

At the bed's foot there grows a thorn:
The bells of Paradise I heard them ring:
Which ever blows blossom since he was born:
And I love my Lord Jesus above anything.

Over that bed the moon shines bright:
The bells of Paradise I heard them ring:
Denoting our Savior was born this night:
And I love my Lord Jesus above anything.

4 comments:

Dominion Family said...

Twila Paris does a wonderful version of this on her Christmas CD which is well worth finding for that song, In the Bleak Midwinter and her O, Holy Night with Matthew Ward not to mention the Hallelujah Chorus.

Anyway I think you would like it.

srhoyle said...

Looks like you need to break out Kemper Crabb's Medieval Christmas CD!

George said...

I do love Kemper's Medieval Christmas CD but I have only played it once this season so far--there is so much good music to sample and relish. I have been reveling in a Scots-Psalter CD from St. Peter's Free Kirk in Dundee--one of my favorite Psalm-singing choirs. And I've really enjoyed a new holiday collection of Ralph Vaughan Williams--which is where I reaquainted myself with both Down in Yon Forest and Of the Father's Love Begotten. Rich and wonderful stuff. Merry Christmas and Joyeux Noel.

Jason said...

Thanks for the reminder of this great hymn. I first heard it on David Eugene Edwards' Consider The Birds cd. It's a great song on a great cd.

Jason Mauney