We danced “The Source” dance that goes to the music The Mummers’ Dance by Loreena McKennitt.
First we danced the one choreographed by Joka Veurboom from the Netherlands, and then we used the same music to dance around our Maypole.
Here are the springtime lyrics.
“The Mummers’ Dance”
When in the springtime of the year
When the trees are crowned with leaves
When the ash and oak, and the birch and yew
Are dressed in ribbons fair
When owls call the breathless moon
In the blue veil of the night
The shadows of the trees appear
Amidst the lantern light
We’ve been rambling all the night
And some time of this day
Now returning back again
We bring a garland gay
Who will go down to those shady groves
And summon the shadows there
And tie a ribbon on those sheltering arms
In the springtime of the year
The songs of birds seem to fill the wood
That when the fiddler plays
All their voices can be heard
Long past their woodland days
And so they linked their hands and danced
Round in circles and in rows
And so the journey of the night descends
When all the shades are gone
“A garland gay we bring you here
And at your door we stand
It is a sprout well budded out
The work of Our Lord’s hand”
Here’s the reference to the traditional verse:
In the North of England it was formerly the custom for young people to rise very early on the morning of the first of May, and go out with music into the woods, where they broke branches, and adorned them with nosegays, and crowns of flowers. This done, they returned about sunrise, and fastened the flower-decked branches over the doors and windows of their liouses. At Abingdon in Berkshire, young people formerly went about in groups on May morning, singing a carol, of which the following are two of the verses : —
” We ‘ve been ramblin- all this night,
And some time of this day ;
And now returning back again,
We bring a garland gay. ”
A garland gay we bring you here,
And at your door we stand.
It is a sprout well budded out,
The work of our Lord’s hand.”
Although the main season for mumming throughout Britain was around Christmas, some parts of England had plays performed around All Souls’ Day (known as Souling or soul-caking) or Easter (Pace-egging or Peace-egging). In north-eastern England the plays are traditionally associated with Sword dances or Rapper dances.
Here’s the Mummers’ Song by Great Big Sea.
Before next December, I’ll be wanting a circle dance for this. Here are the lyrics:
Dear Granny, there’s mummers, there’s twenty or more.
Her old weathered face lightens up with a grin.
Any mummers, nice mummers ‘lowed in?
Ah, come in lovely mummers, don’t bother the snow,
We’ll wipe up the water sure after you go.
And sit if you can upon some mummer’s knee.
We’ll see if we knows who ye be.
Ah, there’s big ones and small ones, tall ones and thin,
There’s boys dressed as women and girls dressed as men,
With humps on their backs and mitts on their feet,
My blessed we’ll die with the heat.
Well, there’s only one here that I think that I know,
That tall fellow standing alongside the stove.
He’s shaking his fist for to make me not tell.
Must be Willy from out on the hill.
Ah, but that one’s a stranger, if ever was one
With his underwear stuffed and his trapdoor undone.
Is he wearing his mother’s big forty-two bra?
I knows, but I’m not going to say.
Well, I suppose you fine mummers would turn down a drop
Of home brew or alky, whatever you got.
That one with his rubber boots on the wrong feet
Ate enough for to do him all week.
Now I suppose you can dance? Sure they all nod their heads.
They’ve been tapping their feet ever since they came in.
And now that the drinks have been all passed around,
Sure the mummers are plankin’ ‘er down.
(Instrumental break – Bob plays one verse of Deck the Halls on the fiddle)
Ah, be careful the lamp! Now hold on to the stove.
Don’t you swing Granny hard, ’cause you know that she’s old.
And never you mind how you buckles the floor
‘Cause the mummers have danced here before.
Oh my God, how hot is it? We’ll never know.
Allows that we’ll all get the devil’s own cold.
Good night and good Christmas, mummers me dears
Please God, we will see you next year
Ah, good night and good Christmas, mummers me dears
Please God, we will see you next year
Please God, we will see you next year.