Our last sing together for the current year took the form of a jovial celebration of Christmas and 22 South Downs Folk Singers and friends came to the Chichester Inn armed with poems and songs ready to turn the evening into a bit of a party. We lit candles on the tables and Anne, Alan and Dave brought their guitars, melodeon and recorder to play a few tunes and accompany some of the songs. After a rendering of Silent Night we went around the circle inviting everyone to do their party piece or recommend a favourite song. Anne and Alan gave us Kipling’s poem Eddi’s Service telling the tale of the bleak mid-winter service conducted by Eddi the Priest in the chapel at Manhood End in AD 687. This was followed by The First Noel sung to the tune of Young Banker and While Shepherd’s Watched to the tune of Ilkley Moor bar t'at. We then sang the Sugar Wassail and Gordon recited a lovely Christmas poem he had written. There followed the Coppers’ Christmas Song, Sweet Chiming Bells, the Angel Gabriel, and Masters in this Hall. Stephen recited Robert Louis Stevenson’s Winter-Time and Chris got us all to participate in a rendering of G R Sims’ magnificently melodramatic monologue Christmas Day in the Workhouse! Keith sang the apocryphal Bitter Withy and Alwyn told us all about Snapdragon, a game in which you have to pick nuts and raisins out of a bowl of flaming brandy! Danny and Jenny sang the Hooton Pagnell Wassail from South Yorkshire. Les and Patsy requested the Boar’s Head Carol and Stormy Winds and Sue and Dave finished up the first half with the Cowboy Carol and a comic version of Deck the Halls.
After a break to refill our glasses, we went around the circle again; Anne and Alan treated us to a sprightly version of the Sussex Carol and a lovely rendition of The Terror Time by Ewan MacColl. We then sang more songs and carols, including the Sans Day Carol, Pentonville, the Falmer Carol, Righteous Joseph, Hark the Herald Angels, the Woodcutter’s Song, Here’s a Health to the Company and the round I Heard a Bird sing in the Dark of December. Chris got us all to join in with the hilarious I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas and then Keith gave us the more solemn Remember O Thou Man written in 1611 by Thomas Ravenscroft. Time was sadly running out so we had one more from Danny and Jenny – Si Kahn’s beautiful song New Year’s Eve which ends “May the New Year bring you freedom peacefully.” We finally finished up singing We wish You a Merry Christmas and an impromptu Happy Birthday to You to a girl called Beth in the other bar! It had been a fantastic evening. Thanks to everyone for their excellent contributions. We’ll meet again on Thursday 18th January 2018 at the Chichester Inn. Hope to see lots of you there!