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My Solstice Carols: Songs of Life

Debra Redalia

The first year I celebrated Winter Solstice was 1987. I had experienced a huge awakening to Nature in July of that year and by Winter Solstice I had already begun to learn about aligning with Nature by celebrating the seasons.

I knew I wanted to celebrate Winter Solstice but I didn’t know what to do. So I did nothing beyond deciding to acknowledge the day as the start of the new solar year that supports all life on Earth.

The next year as December came around, I realized that I no longer wanted to sing Christmas carols. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to sing, it was that I wanted to sing something appropriate to Winter Solstice.

So I began to research the history of carols and found to my surprise that some of our most popular “Christmas” carols existed originally as Winter Solstice carols. “Deck the Halls,” for example, instructs us to hand boughs of holly and sing “yuletide” carols. Yule far predates the birth of Christ as a Winter Solstice celebration. “The Holly and the Ivy” refers to “the rising of the sun”. “Here We Come a Wassailing” refers to the tradition of drinking a from a Wassail bowl with a toast to good health for the coming year. And there are more.

I also learned that in early times, words and tunes were interchangeable. Carols were for both singing and dancing. Thus I found it was completely allowable for me to use any words with any tune and even write new words or rewrite existing words. Historically, carols were very fluid and on-the-spot and belonged to everyone.

Over the years, I have written more than two dozen carols. Some years I write more than others. I started with Winter Solstice carols and then started writing carols for Summer Solstice and the Equinoxes. I have acquired a number of books with old carols, such as the Oxford Book of Carols to use as inspiration.

I love to write these songs because it gives me something to sing that connects my individual life with All of Life. And I just feel full of life and joy when I sing them.

Today I would like to share with you one of my most beloved carols. I am working on putting together a whole songbook for next Winter Solstice.

The first time I sang this at an open mike, people came up to me with tears in their eyes. Years later a friend of mine invited me to a Christmas party for musicians where everyone was expected to perform. I had a stuffy head that night and could barely sing. But I sang this song as best I could. My friend said, “Wow, you are really in your element with this song. This is what you should be singing.” And he was right. These are the songs that are close to my heart and I am sure I will write and sing many more. These are Songs of Life.

Love Is On the Way

The tune for this carol comes from Besançon, a town in the eastern part of France. We know it today as “Shepherds Shake Off Your Drowsy Sleep." The words are adapted by me from two different versions in the Oxford Book of Carols. Shepherds, The Chorus Come and Swell
and People Look East.

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Quite simply, this blog is about orienting ourselves and our lives to Life, instead of orienting ourselves and our lives to industrial consumerism. Here we are sharing our own journey. You come too. Read more...

Debra & Larry Redalia
lifepartners + soulmates

For more than 30 years we have been delving into the nature and activities of life together. Indeed, this has been and continues to be the very reason we are together. With delight, we research, explore, observe, and even wake each other up in the middle of the night to discuss how life functions and how we can function as life—even while living in the modern world. We each are different from the norm, but we are different in the same way, so we have been able to think outside of the ordinary together and find the extraordinary workings of life.

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People, look East, the time is near
Of the crowning of the year.
Make your house fair as you are able,
Trim the heart, and set the table.
People, look East, and sing today;
Love the guest on the way.

Furrows, be glad. Though earth is bare,
One more seed is planted there:
Give up your strength the seed to nourish,
That in course the flower may flourish.
People, look East, and shining today:
Love, the rose is on the way.

Birds, though ye long have ceased to build.
Guard the nest that must be filled.
Even the hour when wings is frozen
He for fledging-time has chosen.
People, look East, and sing today:
Love, the Bird is on the way

Stars keep the watch. When night is dim
One more light the bowl shall brim,
Shining beyond the frosty weather.
Bright as the sun and moon together.
People, look East, and shining today.
Love, the star is on the way.

Angels, announce to man and beast
That which cometh from the East.
Set every peak and valley humming
With the word, the sun is coming.
People, look East, and sing today:
Love, the Light is on the way

Hark! even now the bell ring round.
Listen to their merry sound;
Hark! how the birds new songs are making,
As if winter’s chains were breaking
People, look East, and sing today:
Love, the Sun is on the way.

See how the flower all burst anew.
Thinking snow is summer dew;
See how the stars afresh are glowing
All their brightest beams bestowing.
People, look East, and sing today:
Sun and Light have comeback tis way.

Now it is come, the age of peace,
Strife and sorrow now shall cease!
Open your heart to all around you
Take in the love that is here with the year new
People look east and sing today
Love and peace are here to stay.