mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
[personal profile] mdlbear

Back in November I wrote an S4S about Stan Rogers' "The Mary Ellen Carter". It's one of the two songs my family turns to when things are going bad. Here's the other.

Sydney Carter's song "Julian Of Norwich", more commonly known as "The Bells of Norwich", is about hope. It's been in short supply lately.

The lyrics are taken, more or less directly, from the writings of Julian of Norwich, who lived in what historian Barbara Tuchman called "The Calamitous 14th Century". Hope was in even shorter supply back then: the page in Wikipedia about the book lists ...the Hundred Years' War, the Black Plague, the Papal Schism, pillaging mercenaries, anti-Semitism, popular revolts including the Jacquerie in France, the liberation of Switzerland, the Battle of the Golden Spurs, and peasant uprisings. Not to mention the advance of the Islamic Ottoman Empire into Europe, ending in the disastrous Battle of Nicopolis.

The relevant quote from Julian's writing is

All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.

That comes through in the song's chorus as

Ring out! Bells of Norwich, and let the winter come and go. All shall be well again, I know.

This would probably be a good time for you to go listen to the song: Here's one, on YouTube, accompanied by hammered dulcimer. Here's another, with a very pretty harp part, recorded by the OHRWURM Folk Orchestra. (Interesting name, what?) There are others.

Nobody knows Julian's real name. She was an anchoress, who lived in a cell attached to St Julian's Church in Norwich. Her book, Revelations of Divine Love, is believed to be the first surviving book written in English by a woman, and is much beloved.

I'll leave you with the last chorus:

All shall be well, I'm telling you, Let the winter come and go. All shall be well again, I know.

I wish I could believe that. Maybe if I sing it loud enough.

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