Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year from the Lindsays!

We're in Ireland at the moment... but allow us to share the lyrics to one of our very favorite songs that Steve sings. These lyrics come courtesy of Sean Tyrell. The most important message of the Christmas and New Year season is the hope for renewal that the new year brings… As the days get longer, let the light of the new year bring us hope, friendship, and love.

The Rising of the Moon

As we wander through the universe, on this dark winters night
The children they’re all dancing and the stars are shining bright
One more word must now be spoken, or sung to an old tune
Lets all dance the dance of freedom at the rising of the moon

So we gaze unto the stars that shine with wonder in our eyes
Will we just destroy the planet, or is peace to be the price?
Cause the wall of fighting nations dims the beauty of the tune
Let’s all dance the dance of freedom at the rising of the moon

At the rising of the moon at the rising of the moon
Let’s be friends this new year coming at the rising of the moon

May the wisdom of the ancients with their messages and signs
Come to shine on our tomorrows with the magic of their time
Like a star that shone on the wisemen, like the dawn that’s coming soon
It’s the truth that guides us onwards at the rising of the moon

We can live within gods garden if we tend her with our care
We can understand the meaning and the motives of the fair
Though we stumble through the darkness, trying far too much too soon
Let’s all stand up and be counted at the rising of the moon

At the rising of the moon at the rising of the moon
Let’s all stand up and be counted at the rising of the moon

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Wishing you a warm Christmas Eve.

Silent Night

Silent night, holy night
All is calm, all is bright
Round yon Virgin Mother and Child
Holy Infant so tender and mild
Sleep in heavenly peace
Sleep in heavenly peace

Silent night, holy night!
Shepherds quake at the sight
Glories stream from heaven afar
Heavenly hosts sing Alleluia!
Christ, the Saviour is born
Christ, the Saviour is born

Silent night, holy night
Son of God, love's pure light
Radiant beams from Thy holy face
With the dawn of redeeming grace
Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth
Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth "

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Happy Solstice!

A Poem from Susan Cooper

And so the Shortest Day came and the year died
And everywhere down the centuries of the snow-white world
Came people singing, dancing,
To drive the dark away.
They lighted candles in the winter trees;
They hung their homes with evergreen;
They burned beseeching fires all night long
To keep the year alive.
And when the new year's sunshine blazed awake
They shouted, revelling.
Through all the frosty ages you can hear them
Echoing behind us - listen!
All the long echoes, sing the same delight,
This Shortest Day,
As promise wakens in the sleeping land:
They carol, feast, give thanks,
And dearly love their friends,
And hope for peace.
And now so do we, here, now,
This year and every year.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Evergreens, Renewal, and Solstice

Long before there were strings of lights and tinsel, there was an evergreen. In pre-Christian Celtic tradition, on the darkest day of the year—winter solstice, December 21— stories tells us the Celts brought ivy, holly, and other evergreens into the house to adorn their homes and remind them of the renewal of spring.

As the story goes, the greens remained in the home until they would be burned to celebrate the arrival of Spring in a holiday that was later adapted to become St. Bridget’s Day.

We tried doing this in our house one year. The greens didn't look so pretty on Feb. 2, and everyone made fun of me in late January when my dried, nasty and yellow looking wreath was still up over the fireplace. We had a small get together and music session on Feb. 2 that year, and I burned that wreath most enthusiastically. The pine pitch sparkled and crackled in the fireplace, reminding me of how dangerous it is to burn pine in a fireplace. Well, whatever. We survived it.

It was a lovely way to mark the turning of the seasons, a way to feel connected to the earth beneath our feet, and to honor the universal human message of renewal and hope that is intimated in the religious birth of Christ. It is appropriate that the Celts were able to absorb Christian tradition by placing the celebration of Christ's birth at this time of year, immediately following solstice. Evergreens remain a central Christmas symbol for us to this day, and it is a tribute to the strength of the human spirit that we can celebrate a season of joy amid darkest time of year.

Regardless of religion, the words from Isaiah 9:2 in the Old Testament can remind us of this renewal:

"The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined."

Wishing you great renewal and joy during this season!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Away in a Manger: Irish Origins

Away in a manager is always the first carol that children are taught in Ireland and England.

The first two verses of "Away in a Manger" were originally published in a Lutheran Sunday school book in 1885. Two years later, James R. Murray published it as "Luther's Cradle Hymn," thus creating the misconception that Luther had written it. Although some attribute the words to Luther, they are considered anonymous. (The third verse was added in 1904 by Dr. John McFarland of New York City)

There are two versions of the melody, one favored in Ireland/England and the other in the United States. Murray's version is the one more commonly sung in the United States, and it is often referred to as "Cradle Song."

The other melody, known as “Mueller” more common here in the US. As it turns out, this version was composed by Irish American William J. Kirkpatrick in 1895, in Pennsylvania. Read more about William J. Kirkpatrick, schoolteacher, musician, and carpenter! Check it out:

Away in a Manger

Away in a manger,
No crib for a bed,
The little Lord Jesus
Lay down His sweet head.
The stars in the sky
Look down where He lay,
The little Lord Jesus,
Asleep on the hay.

The cattle are lowing,
The Baby awakes,
But little Lord Jesus,
No crying He makes;
I love Thee, Lord Jesus,
Look down from the sky
And stay by my side until morning is nigh.

Be near me, Lord Jesus,
I ask Thee to stay
Close by me forever,
And love me, I pray;
Bless all the dear children
In Thy tender care,
And take us to Heaven
To live with Thee there.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Slient Night

One of our favorite songs to sing and play this time of year is "Silent Night." It's one of the first Christmas tunes I'll teach an Irish whistle or flute student, and it's always on our Christmas programs.

According to my favorite Christmas music web page,, the origin of this Christmas carol was a poem that was written in 1816 by an Austrian priest called Joseph Mohr. Legend has it that on Christmas Eve in 1818 in the small alpine village called Oberndorf, the organ at St. Nicholas Church had broken. Joseph Mohr gave the poem of Silent Night (Stille Nacht) to his friend Franz Xavier Gruber and the melody for Silent Night was composed with this in mind. The music to Silent Night was therefore intended for a guitar--and the simple score was finished in time for Midnight Mass.

I like to imagine that the local flute player joined him for the melody, because the flute and guitar seems so lovely and perfect on this tune. Historically, it wasn't until 20 or so years later that the new fancy Boehm-system silver flutes were introduced, so it's my guess that the flute player in the church that evening was playing on something that looked a lot like the Irish wooden flute. If there was a flute player..... But of course there was. :)

Saturday, December 13, 2008

A "Celtic" Look at Christmas... GIfts

If we were Celts, we would be in the season of Samhain--the dark season, which began at Nov. 1. This is the time of long evenings and short days, in Ireland even shorter than here. (This post is not going where you think it is, warning warning.)

During the long evenings before electric lights and television in Ireland, people passed the time with social visits called céilis--visits that might include songs, stories, music, poetry. It was the right time of year to tell the long stories, it was said. For musicians, this sounds like a fantasy world. Music every evening, and everyone enjoying it, just part of the culture... what more could one ask for? To live that sort of life, in that environment: now there's a gift to last a lifetime.

If you live in New England, of course, winter is not necessarily so social. It's cold, and unless we're skiiers or otherwise outdoorsy and rugged, we stay in. And at Christmas, we see friends at Christmas parties and connect for one-hour drop-bys to exchange gifts... but can we classify this as true, community-connecting social time? Even the visits can seem laden with obligation. It's nearly become trite at this time of year to hear this warning: "Don't rush around so much, don't worry about the gifts, it's about the people." We all know it should be true, but that "no gifts" thing only works if everyone agrees to it... plus, who doesn't like gifts? And small gifts are often the best ones! Plus, rushing around is all part of making an event into an event; sometimes you just gotta get over it and do it.

One way to relieve the shopping stress is to boycott it--just don't do them. I have many friends who are doing that, mostly for financial reasons. But trying to change that gift-giving tradition is like telling the ocean to stop making tides. Here's another stress relief option, with that in mind. How about this: change your attitude. Just get out there, find nice small stuff, and enjoy it, for God's sake.

We'll be in Ireland for Christmas, and so we've done our shopping early, and soon I'll be packing one large suitcase with a host of small gifts for family and friends that we love dearly. Yes, it cost us some dough--not a ton. All small gifts. Yes, it took a good chunk of time doing all the shopping. Yes, it will be a pain to carry the extra suitcase. But I wouldn't trade anything for the joy of visiting with each of those people and the pleasure of handing them their little box.

Christmas without gifts? Preposterous!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Stage Door Canteen Tonight!

If you like jazz, Sue's playing tonight with Stage Door Canteen.

'Tis the season. Whatever you celebrate, come celebrate with us.

Liam Maguire's, Falmouth.


Dec. 11, 8:30ish.

Wear your Santa hat so we recognize you!

You'll recognize us. We'll be the ones with the instruments.

Love and Christmas Bells,

Your Friends in Stage Door Canteen

Poetry for Christmas

A Christmas Childhood
Patrick Kavanagh

My father played the melodeon
Outside at our gate;
There were stars in the morning east;
And they danced to his music.
Across the wild bogs his melodeon called
To Lennons and Callans.
As I pulled on my trousers in a hurry
I knew some strange thing had happened.
Outside in the cow-house my mother
Made the music of milking;
The light of her stable-lamp was a star
And the frost of Bethlehem made it twinkle.
A water-hen screeched in the bog,
Mass-going feet
Crunched the wafer-ice on the pot-holes,
Somebody wistfully twisted the bellows wheel.
My child poet picked out the letters
On the grey stone,
In silver the wonder of a Christmas townland,
The winking glitter of a frosty dawn.
Cassiopeia was over
Cassidy's hanging hill,
I looked and three whin bushes rode across
The horizon - the Three Wise Kings.
An old man passing said:
"Can't he make it talk" -
The melodeon, I hid in the doorway
And tightened the belt of my box-pleated coat.
I nicked six nicks on the door-post
With my penknife's big blade -
There was a little one for cutting tobacco.
And I was six Christmases of age.
My father played the melodeon,
My mother milked the cows,
And I had a prayer like a white rose pinned
On the Virgin Mary's blouse.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Scottish Tea Postponed

From our friends at the Cape Cod Celtic Society:

"Thanks for all the replies to our Tea date dilemma. The result being that we will postpone our SCOTTISH TEA PARTY until Sunday, February 8th-same time, same place. Please save the date in your new calendar books."

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Thank you for a wonderful concert experience!

Hello and thank you to all who came out to see us last night at the Plymouth Public Library. Somehow that room of 120 people felt like we were just playing in our living room. What a wonderful audience we had and we are so grateful to all who came to see us play. Thank you, friends!

For last night's concert, we were joined by percussionist Brian Haley and fiddler Nikki Engstrom, for a special Celtic Christmas focus that included stories, poetry, and Christmas music mixed inwith Irish tunes. For the remainder of the month, we're going to share excerpts with you, including stories, poetry, a bit of Christmas carol history, and more on Irish Christmas musical traditions.

Stay tuned, and Merry Christmas season!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Celtic Christmas!

Merry Christmas from the Lindsays! This is our big holiday week, featuring two Plymouth concerts--one free--and both family friendly! We mean it; bring the kids, they won't distract us anymore than anyone else does. :)

Sun, December 7, 1pm – 3pm at Festival of Trees, Plimoth Plantation

A really neat event, featuring more than 50 decorated Christmas Trees, all to benefit Cranberry Hospice. Performing Christmas and Celtic music with fiddler Nikki Engstrom. Small fee associated with this one, to benefit the Hospice. For more information

Mon, December 8, 7:00pm – 8:30pm, In Concert: Celtic Christmas Music,
Plymouth Public Library

The big Christmas show... We'll be joined by fiddler Nikki Engstrom, and are happy to say that as a last minute addition, we'll also have Brian "Jingle Bell" Haley with us on percussion! The program will include a mix of holiday themed songs old and new, alongside upbeat traditional instrumental jigs and reels played on Irish fiddle, flute, and whistle-—all with a distinct Irish lilt. Alongside the music, the program includes seasonal poetry, stories, and lively history from Ireland and beyond. Free!

Fehlow Room, Main Library, 132 South Street, Plymouth, Mass.


For more information, visit our newly updated website,

And if you live in Boston....

Boston Celtic Music Fest presents
Celtic Music Monday, a monthly series at Club Passim
Dec. 8, 8 p.m.
"Sing It! All Chorus Songs, All the Time"
Robbie O'Connell
Kate Chadbourne
Michael O'Leary
Sean Smith
plus a bonus "Holiday Sing"

Club Passim, 47 Palmer St., Harvard Square
Admission $12, $6 for members of Passim, WGBH and WUMB
Tickets, other info at

BCM Fest has an informal tradition of starting every Celtic Music Monday show with a singalong. In this case, they're expanding the concept to cover a whole evening. There'll be love songs, work songs, maritime songs, songs of fellowship and solidarity, and no doubt, a thoroughly ridiculous song or two. And there'll always be a part on which people can join in.