Waulking Song

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a cappella SATB - traditional, from Scotland - arr. Amidon Family and Aoife O'Donovan

Sung here by the Friends-of-the-Amidons-Singers. Fulling, milling or waulking of home-made cloth for household use was carried out in Gaelic Scotland by pounding the material against a board. Waulking songs are rhythmic songs that were made up to accompany the work and coordinate the beating. The melody comes from Sam Henry's "Songs of the People" with new lyrics by Susan McKeown and some old blessings from teh Carmina Gadelica, a collection of old Scots charms and runes. Mary Alice first heard this on Carla Sciaki's wonderful CD album "Spin the Weaver's Song". Carla sings the song much slower than an actual waulking tempo, and so do we. This harmonization is a transcription of the improvised harmonies from the Amidon Family (Sam, Stefan, Peter, Mary Alice) and Aoife O'Donovan's 2004 New Year's Eve performance in Brattleboro, VT.


Waulking Song
Melody taken from a Scottish waulking song with new lyrics and old blessings from the Carmina Gadelica, a collection of old Scots charms and runes.  Transcribed from A Winter Talisman by Johnny Cunningham and Susan McKeown.

White the sheep that gave the wool
Green the pastures where they fed.
Blue the skies above the pool,
Where at noon they laid their bed.

Sing the garden and the seed
From who's flowers we ran the dye.
Sing of seedtime wild and free
From our misty Isle of Skye.

Light the hearts that love the sea,
Round the face that seeks the sun.
Brown and happy here are we,
Singing till our task is done.

Bless the man who wears this cloth,
May he wounded never be.
From the bitter cold and frost
May the cloth protection be.

May the charm of lasting life
Be upon your flocks in full.
From the hill where they rest
May they rise both whole and well.

Now is waulked the web we spun;
Winter storms may rain in vain.
Bless the work by which we run
Comfort from the wind and rain.

Tags: secular, a cappella