Jody Marshall
Carol of the Bells
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Carol of the Bells
Carol of the Bells is a delightful collection of seasonal favorites and new compositions, spanning the centuries with haunting medieval melodies, lyrical Renaissance dances, playful Celtic jigs, classics by Tchaikovsky and other composers, and decidedly contemporary takes on familiar carols. Creative arrangements feature hammered dulcimer, Celtic harp, guitar, fiddle, recorders, and more -- including rarely heard instruments such as mando cello, mando bass, harp guitar, and cornamuse. Guest performers include Paul Oorts (fretted instruments), Ellen James (Celtic harp), Barbara Heitz (flute), Andrea Hoag (fiddle), John Guillory (recorders and other wind instruments), and other fine musicians.

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1. Star of Wonder 0:24

2. Gower Wassail / Gloucestershire Wassail 3:18

3. Nutcracker Mini-Suite 3:42

4. Sankt Staffan Han Rider / Carol of the Bells 4:20

5. Sleigh Ride Set: Winter's Run / Troika 3:59

6. Gesù Bambino 3:17

7. Hark, Hark What News / Dublin Bells 3:18

8. Frosty's Favorite / Housetop Hornpipe / The Blazing Yule 3:42

9. It Came Upon the Midnight Clear 2:56

10. Noel Nouvelet! / Patapan 3:30

11. Courante 3:51

12. Merry Greet the Day / Christmas Day in the Morning / I Saw Three Ships / As I Sat on a Sunny Bank 4:11

13. Still, Still, Still 3:14

14. Verbum Caro Factum Est / Angelus ad Virginem 2:34

15. Ding Dong Swing 3:51

16. The Four Seasons: Winter, 2nd Movement / Joy to the World 4:59

17. Star of Wonder 1:28

Total time: 57:00

Produced by Jody Marshall, with assistance from Chris Murphy.

Engineered and digitally edited by Chris Murphy, RHL Audio.


Paul Oorts - guitars, cittern, mandobass, mandocello
Andrea Hoag - fiddle
Ellen James - Celtic harp
John Guillory - recorders, percussion
Barbara Heitz - flute, pennywhistle
Paul Nahay - piano
Jon Nazdin - bass
Myron Bretholz - bodhran, bones
Dave Abe - fiddle (track 8)
Zan McLeod - guitar (track 12)
Grace Griffith - vocal (track 12)

Notes on the Tracks:

1. Star of Wonder (© Jody Marshall/BMI)
    Solo hammered dulcimer

2. Gower Wassail (trad. English) / Gloucestershire Wassail (trad. English) - The tradition of wassailing is the ancestor of door-to-door Christmas caroling. Wassailers would offer good cheer and a song in exchange for a hot-spiced drink (wassail) and other goodies from the homes of feudal lords. The tradition is thought to have originated in the middle ages or earlier.
    Hammered dulcimer, piano, recorders, chimes

3. Nutcracker Mini-Suite (P. I. Tchaikovsky): Dance of the Reed-Flutes / Russian Dance - Two of my favorites from the Christmas ballet.
    Hammered dulcimer, guitar, bass

4. Sankt Staffan Han Rider (trad. Swedish) / Carol of the Bells (trad. Ukrainian) - The first tune in this medley is based on a Swedish ballad, the title of which translates as "Saint Stephen Rides Out." The song describes how St. Stephen was riding his horse when he saw the Star of the East shining over Bethlehem. "Carol of the Bells" started out life as a Ukrainian well-wishing song predicting good fortune. It was typically sung in mid-January, at the beginning of the Julian - calendar new year. It became associated with Christmas in this country in the 1930s, when an American choir director named Peter Wilhousky wrote the well-known words depicting ringing bells.
    Hammered dulcimer, piano, bass, bells, cymbal

5. Sleigh Ride Set: Winter's Run (© Jody Marshall/BMI) / Troika (S. Prokovief) - The first tune is a musical representation of my aspiration to someday ride through snowy woods in a real horse-drawn sleigh. The second is Prokofiev's version of a sleigh ride, from his Lt. Kije Suite ("troika" refers to a three-horse sleigh). Before my brother and sister and I went downstairs to open presents, our father always set the mood by putting a Christmas tape on his then-state of the art reel-to-reel player. A jazz version of "Troika" was everyone's favorite.
    Hammered dulcimer, fiddle, guitar, cittern, piano, jingle bells, bar chime

6. Gesù Bambino (Pietro Yon) - A beautiful piece named for the Christ child, written in the early 20th century by an Italian organist.
    Hammered dulcimer, Celtic harp

7. Hark, Hark What News (trad. English) / Dublin Bells (© Jody Marshall/BMI) - There are many versions of the first tune in this set, which is often the first carol sung in English villages during gatherings and Christmas church services. The second tune was inspired by the stately feel of some of the tunes written by 18th-century harper, Turlough O'Carolan. I maximized the dulcimer's bell-like tones in both tunes by multi-tracking.
    Multi-tracked hammered dulcimers, Celtic harp, bells

8. Frosty's Favorite / Housetop Hornpipe / The Blazing Yule - I adapted these familiar tunes to give them an Irish flavor. ("Frosty the Snowman" by Nelson/Rollins, "Up on the Housetop" by B. Hanby, "Deck the Hall" trad. Welsh).
    Hammered dulcimer, piano, fiddle, bodhran, bones

9. It Came Upon the Midnight Clear (E. H. Sears / R. S. Willis) - I've always loved the simple beauty of this song.
    Hammered dulcimer, guitar, flute

10. Noel Nouvelet! / Patapan - Two French carols. The first dates from at least the 17th century. "Patapan" originated in the Burgundian region of France and is attributed to Bernard de la Monnoye, a prolific poet of the late 18th and early 19th centuries.
    Hammered dulcimer, Celtic harp, guitar, cittern, flute, bodhran, finger cymbals, percussion

11. Courante (anon.) - Though not a Christmas piece per se, to me this lovely dance tune fits right in with the sound and spirit of the season. It's part of the well-known "Terpsichore" collection, published in 1612 by Michael Praetorius.
    Hammered dulcimer, classical guitar, recorders, tambourine

12. Merry Greet the Day (words © Grace Griffith and Jody Marshall; music trad. Shetland) / Christmas Day in the Morning (trad. Shetland) / I Saw Three Ships (trad. English) / As I Sat On a Sunny Bank (trad. English) / I Saw Three Ships (reprise) - A vocal portrayal of a gentle Christmas morning, followed by a joyous instrumental celebration.
    Voice, guitar, hammered dulcimer, fiddle, piano, pennywhistle

13. Still, Still, Still (trad. Austrian) - The lyrics of this lullaby have several English translations. My favorite version starts out with a beautiful image that captures the peace of a quiet snowy night:

    Still, still, still *One can hear the falling snow
    For all is hushed, the world is sleeping * Holy Star its vigil keeping
    Still, still, still * One can hear the falling snow

    Hammered dulcimer, Celtic harp, fiddle

14. Verbum Caro Factum Est (anon.) / Angelus ad Virginem (anon.)- A medley of two medieval carols, both originally sung in Latin. The title of the first translates as "The word is made flesh." The second refers to the Angel Gabriel's appearance to the Virgin Mary to announce the arrival of the Christ child.
    Hammered dulcimer, recorders, cornamuse, finger cymbals, tambourine, drum

15. Ding Dong Swing (arr. Paul Nahay) - A syncopated study of "Ding Dong Merrily on High."
    Hammered dulcimer, piano

16. The Four Seasons: Winter, 2nd Movement (A. Vivaldi) / Joy to the World (traditional) - Two enduring seasonal classics. Some people believe the music to "Joy to the World" was based on parts of Handel's Messiah, but others dispute the claim.
    Hammered dulcimers, mandobass, mandocello, guitar, flute, violin

17. Star of Wonder (© Jody Marshall/BMI) - A round for a winter's evening.
    Hammered dulcimers, chime

Recorded and mixed by Chris Murphy,

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©2022 Jody Marshall