Tags

, , ,

Every Star Shall Sing a Carol

Every star shall sing a carol!
Every creature, high or low,
come and praise the King of heaven by whatever name you know.

God above, Man below, holy is the name I know.

When the King of all creation had a cradle on the earth,
holy was the human body,
holy was the human birth.

God above, Man below, holy is the name I know.

Who can tell what other cradle,
high above the milky way,
still may rock the King of heaven on another Christmas day?

God above, Man below, holy is the name I know.

Who can count how many crosses,
still to come or long ago, crucify the King of heaven?
Holy is the name I know.

God above, Man below, holy is the name I know.

Who can tell what other body
he will hallow for his own?
I will praise the Son of Mary, brother of my blood and bone.

God above, Man below, holy is the name I know.

Every star and every planet,
every creature high and low,
come and praise the King of heaven by whatever name you know.

God above, Man below, holy is the name I know.

_______________

Sydney Carter (1915 – 2004) was an English poet, musician, and songwriter. Among his works is the well-known “Lord of the Dance”, set to the melody of “Simple Gifts”, the American Shaker song. From Wikipedia I learn that a compilation of Carter’s songs was created and released in 1981 by an all-star gathering of English folk musicians; it’s called Lovely in the Dances, and features John Kirkpatrick, Maddy Prior, and Shusha.
_____________

Though I’ve hummed along to “Lord of the Dance”, I’d never heard of Sydney Carter before coming across “Every Star Shall Sing a Carol” in The Hymn Book of the Anglican Church of Canada and the United Church of Canada, 1971 (1974 reprinting). Carter wrote both its words and its music. It stood out for me immediately, first, because of the simple language, meter, repetition, and conversational style. There is a wonderfully imaginative intelligence and farseeing understanding evident here. But the clincher for me is the melody, somehow unusual for a modern carol: it’s in a minor (aeolian) key, with octaves and fifths throughout, very haunting, very interesting. It’s become an ‘earworm’ that I’m happy to host.
The poem, as I experience it, positively shimmers with metaphor . . . for just one example, “God above, Man below” in the refrain evokes the realms of the eternal and the temporal (the ‘cities’ of God and ‘Man’; in Christian terms, Christ and Jesus) . . .
However you hear it, I do hope you enjoy it!
(It just occurred to me that I could photograph the page with the music and attach it here, and you can sing it for yourselves . . . Well, that took a while; but here it is :)


_____________

metaphor“: ORIGIN late 15th cent.: from French métaphore, via Latin from Greek metaphora, from metapherein ‘to transfer.’
A metaphor is a figure of speech (often used as a literary device, particularly in poetry) in which a word or phrase is applied to an object or action to which it is not literally applicable . . . so the word’s meaning is ‘transferable’ to / can be seen as symbolic of something else, often of something abstract.

Advertisements