The Mistletoe Bough

The Mistletoe Bough

A group of singers and musicians have captured the spirit of the tradition of the South Yorkshire Carols on CD.
Calling themselves Humble Swain (from the carol Back Lane), they have produced The Mistletoe Bough, with proceeds going to charity.
The project has taken several years to come to fruition and takes its cue primarily from singing at The Blue Ball in Worrall, and the Royal Hotel in Dungworth.
The tradition of the local carols is especially strong in the north of Sheffield, with words and music often by local people, with support of folklore academics.
“There are some people who regard this as part of their Christian faith, but for the majority it’s for the enjoyment of singing” said one of the singers, John Fowler. “Many people from Sheffield and abroad find a good sing an essential part of their Christmas.”
The CD is an attempt to capture the ambience found in the pubs and was recorded in the studio of fiddle player Robin Garside. Also on the recording are, Mick Linacre, Gordon Hoyland, Nick Farrelly, Alec Thompson, Grahame Sargeant   accompanied by Julia Bishop. The cover picture is by local artist Janet Thornton.
from Sheffield Telegraph

Awake My Harp

Two Christmases ago, with deep snow outside, I reviewed Humble Swain’s first CD, The Mistletoe Bough. This is another offering for the forthcoming festive season.
The singers are John Fowler, Nick Farrelly, Gordon Hoyland, Grahame Sargeant, Mick Linacre and Alec Thompson. All are seasoned singers from the South Yorkshire area steeped in the carols at pubs, chapels and community events throughout the area.
I really value this sort of recording and it comes close to the memories of sings where old carollers, such as The Big Set handed on the tradition to my own generation. In the 1960’s  we stood at their elbows and soaked it all up along with beer fumes and cigarettes. Highly recommended for young singers, and newcomers to this vibrant tradition, who would like to hear it from them “as knows.”
Awake My Harp by Mike Wild, Stirrings Magazine

Awake My Harp

Photo: Margaret Rangecroft