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Carol of the Field Mice

December 27th, 2014
xmas, singing  [html]

At Christmas time my family traditionally reads the "Dolce Domum" chapter of Wind in the Willows aloud. Near the end of this chapter field mice visit mole end and sing a carol:

Villagers all, this frosty tide,
Let your doors swing open wide,
Though wind may follow, and snow beside,
Yet draw us in by your fire to bide;
   Joy shall be yours in the morning!

Here we stand in the cold and the sleet,
Blowing fingers and stamping feet,
Come from far away you to greet—
You by the fire and we in the street—
   Bidding you joy in the morning!

For ere one half of the night was gone,
Sudden a star has led us on,
Raining bliss and benison—
Bliss to-morrow and more anon,
   Joy for every morning!

Goodman Joseph toiled through the snow—
Saw the star o'er a stable low;
Mary she might not further go—
Welcome thatch, and litter below!
   Joy was hers in the morning!

And then they heard the angels tell
'Who were the first to cry "noel"?
Animals all, as it befell,
In the stable where they did dwell!
   Joy shall be theirs in the morning!'

When we get to this part of the story we sing the carol aloud together:

carol-of-the-field-mice.mp3

This melody has been in my family a long time; my aunt remembers singing it washing dishes Christmas as a very small child in 1954. There is no music written in the book, however, so the tune didn't come from there. The words are original to the book and are out of copyright, so lots of other people have tried composing tunes to it. With some looking I found melodies by:

The closest to our version is Carol Wood's, but as she calls it an original this is probably a coincidence. My guess is our version is probably the tune from some other song, since my grandmother and her mother weren't known for writing tunes, but no luck finding more than that.

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