Thursday, September 21, 2017

The Water is Wide


This song became popular in America after Pete Seeger introduced it in 1958.  It tells the story of false love.  The song has been claimed not only by Americans, but by the English, Scottish, and Irish as well.  The modern lyrics were consolidated from several versions, and then the song was named The Water is Wide by Cecil Sharp in 1906.  Watch the YouTube video in"Harp Demo" on the lower right of the screen!

  The words are as follows:
The water is wide, I can-not cross o'er.
And neither have I wings to fly.
give me a boat that can carry two,
And both shall row, my love and I.

A ship there is and she sails the seas.
She's laden deep, as deep can be;
But not as deep as the love I'm in
And I know not if I sink or swim.

I leaned my back up against an oak
Thinking it were a trusty tree
but first it bended and then it broke
Thus did my love prove false to me.

O love is sweet and love is kind
The sweetest flow'r when first it's new
but love grows old and waxes cold
And fades away like the morning dew.

Friday, June 9, 2017

CCHS Retreat 2017


Every Year the Colorado Celtic Harp Society hold a retreat for its members. The last few years it has been held at the Franciscan Retreat Center in Colorado Springs.  This year's retreat was May 19, 20, and 21 - right after the big spring snow.  Like last year, we included an event called "On the Town" during which each participant performs a selection for the whole group.  The harpist in this selection is Rebecca Markel.   One of the acts was videotaped as you can see by clicking on the link "On The Town" in the lower right under "Harp Demo."

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Oh Shenandoah

Until the nineteenth century only adventurers who sought their fortunes as trappers and traders of beaver fur ventured as far west as the Missouri River. Most of these men were loners who became friendly with, and sometimes married, Native Americans.


Shenandoah is said to have originated with French voyageurs traveling down the Missouri River. The lyrics tell the story of a trader who fell in love with the daughter of an  Oneida chief, Skenandoa. American sailors heading down the Mississippi River picked up the song and made it a capstan shanty that they sang while hauling in the anchor. 

 Click on link lower right "Harp Demo" to watch youtube video of Oh Shenandoah.

There is a beautiful 2 harp arrangement of "Oh Shenandoah" by Beth Kolle in The Harp Ensemble Book: Duets and Trios for Lever Harp



Lyrics to Oh Shenandoah
O Shenandoah, I long to hear you 
Away, you rolling river
O Shenandoah, I long to hear you 
Away, I'm bound away 'Cross the wide Missouri

Missouri, she's a mighty river 
Away, you rolling river 
The Indians camp along her borders
 Away, I'm bound away 'Cross the wide Missouri

The white man loved an Indian maiden 
Away, you rolling river 
With notions his canoe was laden Away,
 I'm bound away 'Cross the wide Missouri

O Shenandoah, I love your daughter 
Away, you rolling river 
For her I've crossed the rolling water 
Away, I'm bound away 'Cross the wide Missouri


Seven long years I courted Sally 
Away, you rolling river 
Seven more I longed to have her 
Away, I'm bound away 'Cross the wide Missouri


Thursday, March 2, 2017

The Water Kelpie  Click on link lower right "Harp Demo" to watch youtube video of the Harplanders performing the song.

A water kelpie is, as everyone knows, a supernatural water horse from Celtic folklore that is believed to haunt the rivers and lochs of Scotland and Ireland. In J.K. Rowling's book Fantastic Beasts and Where to find Them, Kelpies are described as shape-shifters native to the British Isles whose favorite form is a horse with bulrushes for a mane.  Rowling also mentions that the Loch Ness monster is a gigantic kelpie whose favorite form is a sea serpent.

The Kelpies

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Kelpies in Falkirk.
The Kelpies are 30-metre-high horse-head sculptures, standing next to a new extension to the Forth and Clyde Canal, and near River Carron, in The Helix, a new parkland project built to connect 16 communities in the Falkirk Council Area, Scotland.
 The sculptures were designed by sculptor Andy Scott and were completed in October 2013.
 The sculptures form a gateway at the eastern entrance to the Forth and Clyde canal, and the new canal extension built as part of The Helix land transformation project. The Kelpies are a monument to horse powered heritage across Scotland.

The sculptures opened to the public in April 2014. As part of the project, they will have their own visitor centre, and sit beside a newly developed canal turning pool and extension. This canal extension reconnects the Forth and Clyde Canal with the River Forth, and improves navigation between the East and West of Scotland.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

She Moved Through the Fair

(Click on link lower right "Harp Demo" to watch youtube video with Sinead O'Connor.)
In so many cases ancient songs were saved because lyrics were finally written for them, or old lyrics were discarded and replaced with new, better, and often, unforgettable ones.  That was the case with Padraic  (pn. Podrig) Colum as it was with Robert Burns.  Podrig is here to tell a little about his life and the discovery of She Moved Through the Fair.
I was born Dec. 8, 1881 in Longford County, Ireland.    I was a poet. dramatist, folklorist and children's writer.  I couldn’t get enough of writing.  At the age of twenty three I was lucky to be considered a gifted, prolific, and versatile writer. I was a major contributor to the Irish National Theatre Society, founded by by W. B. Yeats, and others, and I was one of the founders of the Abbey Theatre in Dublin..
I was a representative for all those who wish to preserve Irish Culture and Customs.  I collected Irish folk songs, including the mixolydian melody, She Moved Through the Fair.   That tune can be traced back to the Middle Ages. It has been found both in Ireland and in Scotland, but my musicologist friend Herbert Hughes and I first collected scraps of the song in County Donegal.  I wrote  most of the verses and adapted some lines, and Herbert, in his wonderful style of Debussy, arranged the melody you know today.  I died in Enfield, Connecticut, on January 11, 1972, and was buried in Ireland.  I will read the verses for you. 
She Moved Through the Fair


1.      My young love said to me, “My brothers won't mind,
And my parents won't slight you for your lack of kind.”
Then she stepped away from me and this she did say:
“It will not be long, love, til our wedding day.”

2.      She stepped away from me and she moved through the fair,
And fondly I watched her go here and go there,
Then she went her way homeward with one star awake,
As the swan in the evening moves over the lake.

3.      The people were saying no two were e'er wed
But one had a sorrow that never was said,
And I smiled as she passed with her goods and her gear,
And that was the last that I saw of my dear.

   I dreamt it last night that my dead love came in,
So softly she entered, her feet made no din;
She came close beside me, and this she did say,
“It will not be long, love, 'til our wedding day!"