Academic journal article Folk Music Journal

Break Forth in Song! Village Carols from the Blue Ball Inn, Worrall

Academic journal article Folk Music Journal

Break Forth in Song! Village Carols from the Blue Ball Inn, Worrall

Article excerpt

CD + 8 pp. booklet. Village Carols CD VC011, 2009.

Another welcome release from the Village Carols label, featuring recordings by Ian Russell, of Christmas carols from South Yorkshire. The village of Worrall is about five miles to the north-west of Sheffield, and the carolling season runs here from the Sunday after Armistice Day through to Christmas Day. The Worrall carolling tradition has previously been documented on a cassette, Arise, Rejoice and Sing! (Village Carols VC002), while two tracks from Worrall feature on the CD English Village Carols: Traditional Christmas Carolling from the Southern Pen nines (Smithsonian folkways SFW CD 40476).

On those earlier recordings the accompaniments - and often lengthy 'symphonies' between the verse - were provided on organ by Lawrence 'Lol Loy. He had a strong family connection with the local carol-singing tradition, and fulfilled the accompanist's role at Worrall from 1982 through to 1995, having previously accompanied the singing at nearby Dungworth for nineteen years. When Lol gave up playing at Worrall, his place was taken by another local musician - but, although an experienced local pub and club organist, his playing did not seem to suit the carollers, and both the numbers attending and the quality of the singing declined. In 1999, Julia Bishop took over as accompanist, and this proved to be a happy choice: the tradition is once more thriving, and the pub singing sessions are now as busy as in Lo! Loys heyday.

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It's a useful reminder of how fragile traditions can be - whether carol singing or morris dancing - and of how important individuals can be to the health and continuation of those traditions. But now that Worrall's Sunday lunchtime sings are flourishing once more, it's good to have the music recorded and made available - not only to folk music aficionados but, perhaps more importantly, to the local community. …

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