Poor Little Jesus

2014
12.12

Jon says, “I learnt this from the fabulous Maddy Prior And The Carnival Band – I think everyone has a CD they have to play on Christmas Day and Carols And Capers is mine. They’re touring at the moment I believe – do go and see them, they’re brilliant.” Here’s a link to the tour dates as there are a few remaining. The only note about this song on the CD is “Words and tune USA trad.”  There is a further general note that I found interesting, however, “Since medieval times, carols and dancing have gone hand in hand; in fact the word carol probably comes from the old French ‘carole’ meaning a round dance. Today’s Christmas carols are a far cry from the sung dances of the middle ages – on this record there are hymns, spirituals, lullabies, feasting and wassail songs as well as dance carols”. I’d say this falls into the spiritual category, which is backed up by Mainly Norfolk here, where you can follow the trail onto Mudcat as well, or link here.
You can buy the December digital album now from all good download stores:

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15 Responses to “Poor Little Jesus”

  1. Rosie says:

    Lovely arrangement and concertina.

  2. Simon Dewsbury says:

    lovely melody and singing, and an interesting take on the nativity story, Jesus as poor wayfaring stranger?

  3. Shelley says:

    A beautiful song which we include in our Christmas concerts. I really like Jon’s treatment of it.

  4. Jane Ramsden says:

    Really excellent!

  5. John Phipps says:

    Listening to the Maddy Prior version on BBC Radio Derby’s Folkwaves program which the Beeb is axing come the end of the year. Depressing news. We need people, especially musicians and people in the midlands to complain to the BBC about this.

  6. Diana says:

    This sounds like a good one for a gospel choir.

    @ Jane: Glad you got my pathetic attempt at humour. No woollen vest for me – I have gone from being a softee southener to a hardy northener. I live just a couple of miles away from th’ moors.

  7. Diana says:

    O blast, the spelling bug has struck me once again. Softie or softy is the correct spelling.

  8. Peter Walsh says:

    Just stunning! Sent a shiver down my back. What a great performance.

  9. muzza (Surrey) says:

    Peter W…you need a vest!

  10. Peter Walsh says:

    Touché Muzza!

  11. Jane Ramsden says:

    And Muzza needs a sock… HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

  12. Kathy says:

    I grew up hearing this song every year when we put on the Christmas records. Only, it wasn’t Maddy Prior singing, it was the DePaur Chorus on their album “Calypso Christmas,” of all things. It’s actually quite a good album, originally put out sometime in the late ’50s or early ’60s and reissued a couple of years ago onto CD. I looked around for a good description of it that wasn’t a marketing site, and found this: http://sharedreviews.com/review/calypso-christmas-a-fun-holiday-change-of-pace

  13. Muzza+404days (NW Surrey-UK) says:

    A bit sad……………melancholy………I like ‘jolly’ carols with a bit of wumph! Carols you can sing as you put yor vest on and laugh at the hoar frost on t’bedroom window.

  14. Diana says:

    Muzza there you go again. The dreaded word! It was minus 2 degrees this morning. Only needs to go down another degree and we have a pop group. I am with you a little more oomph would help.

  15. Jeremy Main says:

    The French tradition is very weird, as it is probably religious paganism at its most evident. A number of late medieval churches (eg Chartres) have a labyrinth either in the church or on the grounds of the monastry, a passage if which ranked as a pilgrimage – see Craig Wright, The Maze and the Warrior. In the preliminaries to Christmas, you would find a chain of dancing monks, led by the abbot, doing this penance much like a religious Breton chain-dance. The tunes are known as Rondelli, and are under study by Symphone in the aftermath of their work on Hildegard of Bingen. The verb “caroler” means to celebrate, and may well be a descendant etymologically of “Carolus”, the latin name for “Charles”, as in Charlemagne.

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