Whiskey Before Breakfast

Whiskey Before Breakfast - The Pressley Girls

The girls learned the fiddle tune Whiskey Before Breakfast from Lynn and Liz Shaw in the spring of last year. Well, I should say they were introduced to it by the Shaws. Its one of those tunes that's tricky to play until you get it-then you wonder why it was so hard in the first place.

The girls played it for Paul and he said he'd heard it before, but never really learned it. 

Throughout the summer the girls would bring the tune out at every practice and play around with it. Their hopes were that by the time they met up with Lynn and Liz again they'd be able to join right in on the tune. That isn't exactly what happened. 

It was September before we got to spend time with the Shaws again. There was a fairly large group of musicians jamming and when Whiskey Before Breakfast was mentioned as the next tune the girls got ready. Chitter said "They took off so fast I was left in the dust. I couldn't even pretend to keep up." Chatter agreed they better practice the song some more, so the girls continued to try and learn the song on their own.

Over Christmas we really solidified our version of the song and once we all got it down pat it was so much fun to play!

My nephew Mark aka mandolin man was here for Christmas and he got to play along with us. I was so proud of our accomplishment on Whiskey Before Breakfast that I shared a picture of my notes about the song on the Blind Pig and The Acorn Instagram page

One of my friends commented "Lord preserve us & protect us!" 

I thought "Oh my goodness she's worried about us! We don't drink whiskey before breakfast-heck we don't drink whiskey anytime of the day!"

Turns out there are lyrics to the song that we didn't know about and my friend was referring to them...not to our non-existent drinking problem.

Here's the lyrics:

Words from Mike Cross album "Live and Kickin"'

Early one day the sun wouldn't shine
I was walking down the street not feeling too fine
I saw two old men with a bottle between 'em
And this was the song that I heard them singing

Lord preserve us and protect us,
We've been drinking whiskey'fore breakfast

Well I stopped by the steps where they was sitting
And I couldn't believe how drunk they were getting
I said "old men, have you been drinking long?"
They said 'Just long enough to be singing this song"

Lord preserve us and protect us,
We've been drinking whiskey'fore breakfast

Well they passed me the bottle and I took a little sip
And it felt so good I just couldn't quit
I drank some more and next thing I knew
There were three of us sitting there singing this tune

Lord preserve us and protect us,
We've been drinking whiskey'fore breakfast

One by one everybody in the town
They heard our ruckus and they came around
And pretty soon the streets were ringing
With the sound of the whole town laughing and singing

Lord preserve us and protect us,
We've been drinking whiskey'fore breakfast

Lord preserve us and protect us,
We've been drinking whiskey'fore breakfast


The song is most often played as an instrumental and that's how we'll continue to do it I'm sure. Give our version a listen and see what you think.

I hope you enjoyed the song! To read more about the history of the tune you can go here. From what I gather the tune is much older than the lyrics. 


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Fiddling George Barnes, Last of the Copper Haulers

Today's guest post was written by Ethelene Dyer Jones.

TCC teamsters @ 1912 Polk County News 

Photo provided by Polk County News

Fiddling George Barnes, Last of the Copper Haulers 

By Ethelene Dyer Jones

A considerable amount of romance (meaning legend, mystery, adventure) is tied to the days of early mining and copper exchange in the Copper Basin. This is especially true of the men who were known as the copper haulers along the Old Copper Road. Perhaps none of them were as well known or had as many admirers as George B. Barnes.

We have perhaps heard stories of him, and if we have visited the Ducktown Basin Museum, we have seen displayed there the fine old fiddle that once belonged to this copper hauler, citizen and fiddle-player, George Barnes.

James Barnes (June 13, 1811-August 9, 1859) and his wife, Susan (maiden name unknown – September 23, 1813 – October 14, 1886) had five known children. Daughter Emaline (August, 1836 – July 9, 1885) married first, Enoch Farmer about 1854, and after he was killed in the Civil War, she married, second, John W. Headrick. George B. Barnes (March 20, 1840 – November 5, 1919) married Sarah Gassaway about 1860. They had a daughter, Amanda, who married William Leander Dalton. Nancy was born about 1842, but whether she lived to adulthood is not known. Martha Ann was born about 1844 and married Samuel J. Moore, Jr. in 1869. William C. Barnes, known as Billy, was born January 21, 1872. This younger brother worked with George in the copper mines and as a hauler.

Captain Julius Raht, who had a great influence on the economic growth of the Ducktown Basin area, purchased a fine violin on his travels to Cincinnati or elsewhere and made a gift of the violin to George B. Barnes. Endowed with a natural talent with music, and with the mountain gift of making the strings sing, George was much in demand as an entertainer and a fiddler at various parties throughout the Basin area.

Copper haulers wagon3 polk county news
Photo provided by Polk County News 

The copper haulers would often stop off at what was known as the Halfway House, about mid-way between Ducktown and Cleveland, Tennessee on their journey along the Old Copper Road. Mr. Roy G. Lillard, historian, in his book, Polk County, Tennessee, 1839-1999, gives a list of the men employed as copper haulers. There may have been more, but these were documented: George Barnes, I. A. Gassaway, James Rymer, W. C. Barnes (George’s brother), R. Boyd, W. P. Barker, A. J. Cloud, J. H. Williams, R. M. Cole, James Lingerfelt, John Lowry, William Center and W. A. Center. From time to time others joined in the hauls:  Major J. C. Duff, Taylor Duff, Parker Duff, Pen Jones, Jim Ingram, Asbury Blankenship, Joe Dunn, Joe Hasking, Reuben Carver, Samp Orr, Ephraim Woody, Jim Hughes, Jay Fry, Tom Bates, William Williamson, Quint Gilliland, John Hutchins, Posey Parker, Rev. W. H. Rymer, John Moody, Joe Cain and a Greer boy who lost his life along the route. (See Lillard, page 166).  These surnames read like a roster of present-day citizens still in the Copper Basin.

The load limit, strictly enforced, was no more than 500 pounds of copper per draft animal in the team. If a hauler had two mules, his cargo could weigh at 1,000 pounds. But four, six and eight mule teams were not uncommon, and give an idea of the weight of copper these haulers moved. The road was through rough terrain and of poor quality. It was not unusual for the wagon to sink into a rut, and with the grade difficult anyway, the poor mules would stall.

Some of the copper haulers, not as gentle and humane as George Barnes, would use a black snake whip to coerce the mules to move. Mr. Barnes was noted for getting out his violin to play music to soothe the mules. Legend holds that his method for getting the stalled team to pull the load out of the ditch and to get back onto the road worked every time.

At the Halfway House, guests never seemed too tired to hear George Barnes play his fiddle.  A little hoe-down never hurt anyone, and especially the copper haulers. Their spirits were lifted and the music made their stop-over more enjoyable. Captain Julius Raht himself purchased the Halfway House after the Civil War in 1866. He made it into a fashionable place to stop for overnight stays, to eat and to be entertained. Who knows but that it was during his period of ownership of this boarding house along the Copper Road that he gave the violin to Fiddler George Barnes.

The Greer boy who assisted the copper haulers, probably as a groomsman for the mules or a general helper, met his death while he was working as a hauler’s helper. He requested that he be buried along the road so he could see and hear the haulers as they passed by. Is it any wonder that legends evolved about this lad whose likeness could sometimes be seen at twilight, keeping his vigil along the mile-long stretch where his grave overlooked the Copper Road?

During or immediately after the Civil War, George B. Barnes met misfortune at the hands of the notorious John Gatewood, leader of the infamous gang of bushwhackers. Gatewood shot at Uncle George Barnes, hitting him in the eye area and permanently damaging his sight.  But Mr. Barnes was not killed by the blast. In fact, he was able to live for several more years, dying in 1919.

I recently had a delightful call from Mr. Pat Terry, former citizen of the Copper Basin and now a resident of Atlanta. He commented about Captain Julius Raht, and we went from that to talking about Fiddler George Barnes, his wife’s uncle. He knew the violin came as a gift from Captain Raht. Mr. Terry told me that the violin was damaged, its neck broken badly. Mr. Barnes got cherry wood and carved a new neck to attach to the old violin. The workmanship was so perfect and the mend so flawless that the violin looked as though it had never been damaged.

Fiddling George Barnes had the distinction of taking the last load of copper from Ducktown to Cleveland just prior to the change from mule-drawn freight to railroad shipping.

I wonder, during the cold December hauls, did Fiddling George Barnes play Christmas carols to soothe his mules stranded in the ruts of the Old Copper Road? Were the evenings near Christmas at Halfway House filled with strains of “Silent Night” and “O Little Town of Bethlehem”?  I like to think so. I can almost hear him now, making that violin talk.


I hope you enjoyed Ethelene's post as much as I did. A fiddle player that could sooth the mules-pretty neat uh? Wonder if Chitter's playing could calm them?

Fun fact- Copper Hill is the small town which surrounds the copper mine and that's where I was born.


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Oh Little Momma your Daddys got the Deep Elem Blues

Deep Elem Blues Deep Ellum Blues

After Pap passed away I couldn't bear to watch any of the videos we've filmed over the years. I guess I was afraid it would be like pouring salt into an open wound. Right from the start Granny and Paul both drew great strength from watching the videos and listening to the cds. 

Once I got passed that initial feeling of not wanting to see or hear Pap, I became slightly obsessed with watching all the videos we've made. Hard to believe but we've uploaded 255 videos to my Blind Pig and The Acorn Youtube channel

Although I'm a huge fan of our music, my favorite thing about the videos has nothing to do with the music.

I love the...well I love the love caught by the camera. Whether it's Paul and Pap, the girls, or a mixture of all you can see them nod at each other, smile at each other, and sometimes even frown at each other if they don't think the song is going so well. Sometimes you can hear the phone ring or someone knocking at the door. Often there is a piece of conversation at the beginning or end of the song. 

For today's Pickin' and Grinnin' in the Kitchen Spot I'm going to share a video we did way back in 2012 Deep Elem Blues (also Deep Elm/Deep Ellum). The song has been around since the 1930s and has been recorded by various artists over the years including The Grateful Dead. Deep Elm was a red light district in Dallas Texas you can go here to read more about the history of the song.

As is the case with many old songs, the lyrics vary depending on the person performing it. Here's the ones Paul sings:

Well I went down to the bottoms to see my Mary Lou She was dancing with a stranger she had taken off her shoes Oh sweet Momma your Daddys got the Deep Elem Blues Oh sweet Momma Daddys got the Deep Elem Blues

Well I told that trifling woman Told her what I was going to do If she don't quit her rambling I'm going ramble too Oh Little Momma your Daddys got the Deep Elem Blues Oh Little Momma Big Daddys got the Deep Elem Blues

Well I once knew a Preacher preached the Bible through and through till he went down to Deep Elem Now his preaching days are through Oh Little Momma your Daddys got the Deep Elem Blues I said oh now Momma Poppas got the Deep Elem Blues

Well I wish I was an apple hanging on the tree Every time Mary Lou came by she could take a bite of me Oh now Momma your Daddys got the Deep Elem Blues I said oh now Mommason Daddyson got the Deep Elem Blues

Paul's flat-top picking is outstanding in this video and his vocals are top notch too. But the reason I love it is because of the little smile Paul throws towards Pap as he says Mommason Daddyson got the Deep Elem Blues.


Mommason was one of Pap's terms of endearment for Granny and that's the reason behind Paul's smile. Hope you enjoyed the video!


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Breaking up Christmas with The Pressley Girls

Breaking Up Christmas with The Pressley Girls

The Pressley Girls - Morning Song at the JCCFS

In the early 1900s, folks living in the mountains of North Carolina lengthened the holiday season by celebrating the two weeks following Christmas. They called it Breaking Up Christmas

Residents in the community would host a series of house parties. Each night the party would be held in a different home and the musicians and party goers would follow the route merry making until the wee hours of the morning.

Folks hosting the party would clear the rooms of their house to make room for dancing. Sometimes the only space left for the musicians to play was standing in the door way. The days following Christmas can feel empty which makes it easy to see why breaking up Christmas became a popular tradition in certain areas. 

I had never heard of the celebration until I stumbled upon it as I was researching Christmas traditions in Appalachia back when I first started the Blind Pig and The Acorn. Since traditional music and dance have played a huge role in my life I was immediately drawn to the idea of breaking up Christmas. 

The Christmas holiday always offers up more opportunities than usual for music making around the Blind Pig house. While we haven't been traveling the party-route we have been enjoying some mighty fine music sessions.

Now that the nephews live a far piece away we always try to gang up and play whenever they come home. Mandolin man was the only one that got to come home for Christmas this year. We had a great day of music making with him and wished his brother could have been there as well.

The girls have also made real progress on their first cd. The tracks for two more songs have been laid down this week and we are very excited about that music. 

My dream Breaking up Christmas Party would be to travel around to each of your homes and make music till you threw us out shouting out the location of the next party on the route as we packed up the car. Since I can't make that happen-I'll share a video from The Pressley Girls that was filmed the day before Christmas.


I hope you enjoyed the song! It's another original composed by Chitter titled Ruby in the Kitchen. She wrote it about our dog Ruby Sue who searches through the kitchen floor looking for crumbs in a very amusing manner.


p.s. I'll be doing some more breaking up Christmas over on the Blind Pig and The Acorn Facebook page today-sharing some of my favorite videos from the blog.

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From Brasstown to Vermont and Back

Spider Web Canyon composed by Katie Pressley in honor of her Grandfather Jerry 'Pap' Wilson

Pap helping Chitter tune before a show

My favorite Christmas gift arrived way back in October...but no one noticed it was here. The gift just sat quietly waiting for the right time to announce itself.

Like lots of folks Pap had a chair he claimed for his own and as his medical problems became more serious he sat in it more and more. Whenever you walked into the living-room you'd expect him to be sitting there in the green plaid recliner. The day he died Paul slept in his chair.

In the weeks and month's afterward I think we all looked at the chair and thought about Pap not being in it. Sometimes I gave it a pat when I'd walk behind it to go to the bathroom or get something for Granny from one of the back rooms. More than once I saw the girls give it a good sniff trying to catch a whiff of Pap's unique smell which was a mixture of Listerine, Vitalis, and coffee. 

One day when I came in from work Chitter told me she'd been inspired to compose a song about Pap. She said she was sitting in his chair and the tune just came to her. 

I love to read and after Pap's death I went through a spell of reading pioneer stories about the folks who packed up everything they owned and headed out west for a new start. After Chitter played her song for me I said "Now it might just be because I've been reading about the pioneers heading west but I swear that song makes me think of a western town in the 1800s." Chitter smiled and said "Well I was thinking about mine and Pap's favorite western when I wrote it."

I couldn't wait for her to play it for Paul. He liked the song as much as I did and advised Chitter to really think about what to name it-to let it sit for a while and then name it something she'd always find meaningful to her and maybe even be symbolic for Pap since she said he inspired it. 

A few weeks later Chitter said she'd come up with a name Spider Web Canyon. Pap and Chitter had a common love of westerns. Often they talked about the books Chitter was reading and about Pap's favorites that he'd read over the years. One of the last books they talked about was Zane Grey's Lost Wagon Train and Spider Web Canyon played an important role in the story.

Chitter taught Spider Web Canyon to David Kaynor who is one of her music mentors. If you think his name sounds familiar, I've written about him teaching the girls at John C. Campbell Folk School's Dance Musicians Class.

David lives in Massachusetts where he teaches music, calls dances, conducts the Vermont Fiddle Orchestra, and many other things. Over the years David has become a special friend to our family and has a strong bond of friendship with us. David got to meet Pap back in the Spring of the year and even joined us onstage at the Martins Creek Community Center.

David took Chitter's song and the story of Pap inspiring her back up north and taught it to the Vermont Fiddle Orchestra. They played it at a performance and David sent us a recording of the event, but Chitter failed to notice he had sent it. Between finals, her senior capstone project, and life she never saw the message that David had sent her back in October. 

I'm sort of glad Chitter didn't find the recording until December, hearing an amazing orchestra play the song that Chitter composed while sitting in Pap's chair was the best Christmas present ever.

Knowing I wanted everyone to experience the song I made a slide-show of photos from Pap's life to go along with the music for Granny and Paul. They just loved it. I'm not sure who's watched it more Paul or me, but we've about wore it out. 

I hope you enjoyed hearing about my favorite Christmas present and I hope you enjoyed the video-if you did please share it with your friends.


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Tidings of Comfort and Joy

God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen

Funerals are sad anytime of the year, but they seem especially sad during the joyous season of Christmas. On Friday I attended the funeral of one of my closest friends, Tracy's step-father Bruce Taylor. I was about 11 or 12 when I first met Bruce. I remember exactly where we were at and how he came up to the car window and told me his name was Orville Redenbacher. I have lots of memories tied to Bruce and to Tracy's mother Vicky since I spent a great deal of time at their home during my childhood. Over the last week I've tried to remember a time that I didn't know Tracy and I can't seem to see back that far. She's always been part of my life. We went to the same school, lived in the same community, and our families had a friendship that went back generations. 

As I set in the church pew and listened to loved ones reminisce about Bruce I agreed with their assertions: Bruce was a nice man who was as friendly to strangers as he was to the folks who shared his life. With the Christmas tree shining in the corner and the funeral flowers surrounding the casket I was reminded of the Christmas song God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen.

After Paul and Pap recorded the song on their Songs of Christmas cd it became my favorite version. I recently checked out one of my Christmas books - Stories Behind the Best Loved Songs of Christmas by Ace Collins to see if it had an entry for God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen. It did, and as usual Collins details a fascinating history of the song. 

The song was written over 500 years. The story of a song lasting throughout that number of years is fascinating in itself. But for me the most interesting part of the history detailed by Collins is the change that has occurred in the meaning of the words used in the song since that time.

"When modern people say “Merry” Christmas, the word merry means happy. When “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” was written, merry had a very different meaning. Robin Hood’s “Merry Men” might have been happy, but the merry that described them meant great and mighty. Thus, in the Middle Ages, a strong army was a merry army, a great singer was a merry singer, and a mighty ruler was a merry ruler.

So when the English carolers of the Victorian era sang, “merry gentlemen,” they meant great or mighty men. Ye means you, but even when translated to “God rest you mighty gentlemen,” the song still makes very little sense. This is due to another word that has a much different meaning in today’s world and a lost punctuation mark.

The word rest in “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” simply means keep or make. Yet to completely uncover the final key to solving this mystery of meaning, a comma needs to be placed after the word “merry.” Therefore, in modern English, the first line of “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” should read “God make you mighty, gentlemen.” Using this translation, the old carol suddenly makes perfect sense, as does the most common saying of the holidays, “Merry Christmas.”

You might wonder why, when most didn’t fully understand the real meaning of “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen,” the old carol remained popular. The world’s love for this song is probably due to its upbeat musical piece paired with the telling of the most upbeat story the world has ever known. Those who sing it naturally get caught up in the celebratory mood of the message and embrace the same kind of emotions that those first to visit the baby Jesus must have felt. As the angel told the shepherds, “I bring you news of great joy.” That joy and the power of faith can be felt and experienced in every note and word of “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen.” You just have to know how to translate the words into the language of the day to have a very Mighty Christmas!"

Jump over to this page to read Collins piece on the song in it's entirety.

A version of God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen is on Pap and Paul's Songs of Christmas cd

Give it a listen-and see if you like their version as much as I do. (you may have to hit your back button to come back to this page)

Listen to God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen

Offering tidings of comfort and joy: That's the way Bruce will be remembered and I wish tidings of comfort and joy to Vicky and to the rest of the family during this sad time.


p.s. A few weeks ago I was interviewed by Michael Borkman on his radio talk show EXtreme Carolina which airs on WJRB 95.1FM. My interview will air - Today Sunday December 18 at the following times 1:30 p.m., 6:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. (Eastern Standard Time). You can go here to listen. 

*SourceStories Behind the Best Loved Songs of Christmas by Ace Collins

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Thus Every Beast by Some Good Spell

Away in a manger

Steve and Tipper  - Christmas 1970-something

I grew up hearing Pap sing the Christmas song The Friendly Beasts. He said he first heard the song from The Blue Sky Boys. The song's origins have been traced as far back as the 12 century.

Today's guest post about the song was written by Ethelene Dyer Jones.


“The Friendly Beasts” Christmas Carol written by Ethelene Dyer Jones

Nowadays, perhaps because of the ‘politically correct’ tone that has pervaded almost every public expression, including the celebration of Christmas, we do not often hear the old, familiar carols we once heard played over the sound system in shopping centers. The blare might more likely now be secular songs about “the holiday,” our current (and acceptable—so as not to offend anyone) terminology for Christmas.

But, running through my mind, from the first of December until the special day we celebrate Christmas—Advent Day, Emmanuel, ‘God with us’—I hum, sing, listen to and enjoy Christmas carols. I hesitate to list my favorite, for all are a part of my humming repertoire, and I really like many, many of them, the music, the lyrics, the thoughts they bring to my mind, and the memories of happy Christmases-past that the carol music invokes.

Lately, “The Friendly Beasts” has become my Christmas carol to hum and sing. I have heard it daily as I visit my friend Tipper Pressley’s “Bling Pig and the Acorn” blog, where she features Christmas Music by “The Blind Pig Gang.” This group is made up of her brother Paul Wilson, lead singer and guitarist [and he alternates playing other stringed instruments, too,]; her father Jerry Wilson, known as “Pap,” guitarist and harmonizing with a fine tenor voice; her twin daughters better known as Chitter and Chatter, harmonizing and also playing guitar and violin:, and, bringing in the depth of sound is Mary Jane Wilson Pressley, “Tipper” herself, on bass guitar. Their rendition of “The Friendly Beasts,” not-too-familiar a carol, has reverberated in my mind since the first day I heard it this year on “Blind Pig.” Their rendition of the carol sent me looking for its origin and history, and this is what I found:

“The Friendly Beasts” is a traditional Christmas Carol dating back to the 12th century in France. Set to the melody of the Latin folk song, “Orientis Partibus,” the song recounts the gifts brought to the Baby Jesus by a donkey, a cow, a sheep, a camel and a dove. The words were translated into English by Robert Davis (1881-1950) in the 1920’s. By the 1930’s it was popular not only in France, where it had originated centuries before, in England and had spread to other countries. It was sometimes called “The Song of the Ass,” or “The Donkey Carol,” or “The Gift of the Animals.” Tradition holds that the idea for the song came not only from the donkey that carried Mary to Bethlehem from Nazareth before Jesus was born, but also one that carried Mary to Egypt when she, Joseph and the Babe went there to escape the decree of Herod that all Jewish babies two and under were to be killed. Many churches observed “Donkey Day” and would actually bring donkeys to church to remind them of the important role that animal held at the time of the birth of Jesus the Lord.

Some artists who popularized the carol in America were Burl Ives in 1952 who sang it in his album, “Christmas Day in the Morning.” Others who have included the carol in their Christmas carol recordings have been Harry Belafonte, and Johnny Cash with Belafonte in their “The Gifts They Gave.” We’ve heard the music and lyrics from Rise Stevens, Danny Taddei, Peter-Paul-and-Mary, Sufja Stevens, Garth Brooks (1992) and Brian Stokes Mitchell. Mitchell, singing with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, had the beasts and dove present and heard in the recording.

Perhaps you, as I, often wish you had the words of a tune that plays at your mind’s edge and begs for voice. Here are the words from Davis’s translation. There are other versions, too. I give you the words here so that you can perhaps listen and sing along if you hear “The Friendly Beasts”:

Jesus our brother, kind and good
Was humbly born in a stable rude
And the friendly beasts around Him stood,
Jesus our brother, kind and good.

“I,” said the donkey, shaggy and brown,
“I carried His mother up hill and down;
I carried her safely to Bethlehem town.”
“I,” said the donkey, shaggy and brown.

“I,” said the cow all white and red,
“I gave Him my manger for His bed;
I gave Him my hay to pillow His head.”
“I,” said the cow all white and red.

“I,” said the sheep with curly horn,
“I gave Him my wool for His blanket warm:
He wore my coat on Christmas morn.”
“I,” said the sheep with curly horn.

“I,” said the dove from the rafters high,
“I cooed Him to sleep so He would not cry;
We cooed Him to sleep, my mate and I.”
“I,” said the dove from the rafters high.

“And I,” said the camel all yellow and black,
Over the desert upon my back,
I brought Him a gift in the Wise Men’s pack.”
“I,” said the camel all yellow and black.

Thus every beast by some good spell,
In the stable dark was glad to tell
Of the gift he gave Immanuel,
The gift he gave Immanuel.

“I,” was glad to tell
Of the gift he gave Immanuel,
The gift he gave Immanuel.
Jesus our brother, kind and good.

May your Christmas come trustingly, as it did with the animals gathered in Bethlehem’s stall. And may our gifts be laced with as much sincerity and love as that expressed by the animals in this ancient carol from the 12th century.


Give Pap and Paul's live version a listen as you think upon the history Ethelene uncovered about the song. 


Pap and Paul's Songs of Christmas cd is packed with some of the best Christmas music I have ever heard, including the song The Friendly Beasts. You can go here-Pap and Paul's Music to purchase a cd directly from me. Or you can jump over to my Etsy Shop and buy one here.

I hope you enjoyed Ethelene's guest post and the video from Pap and Paul. Drop back by sometime this week for a heartwarming story about the barnyard animals at Christmas written by Celia Miles. 


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What Child is this?

What Child is This - Christmas Carol

I don't recall hearing the Christmas song What Child Is This? until I was nearly grown. Because of that, I had it in my mind that the song was of modern origin for years. 

After Pap and Paul recorded the song, I learned the song is actually very old and hails from England. The tune of the song is the same as the tune to the folk song Greensleeves which dates as far back as the 1600s. The words to What Child Is This? were penned by William Chatterton Dix in the 1800s. To read the full story of how the tune and the words came together to make the song we know today jump over and visit this blog

The Christmas song has a haunting reverent quality about it, I believe Pap and Paul's harmony, along with Pap's high tenor voice make the song even more haunting-see if you don't agree. Click on the link below that says What Child is This. You may have to hit the back button to get back to this page after listening to the song.

What Child is This

Pap and Paul's Songs of Christmas cd is packed with some of the best Christmas music I have ever heard, including the song What Child Is This?. You can go here-Pap and Paul's Music to purchase a cd directly from me. Or you can jump over to my Etsy Shop and buy one here.


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Silent Night

Silent Night traditional Christmas Music


Silent Night is said to be the most recorded of all Christmas songs and it may very well be the most popular as well. When I hear Silent Night I'm always taken back to the church plays I was in as a kid. The church lights turned down low; Angels with glittery wings; Shepherds and Wise Men wearing house robes with towels tied on their heads as turbans; and hay strewen throughout the aisles where the little kids couldn't keep from playing in the manger.

When the girls were in high school their school chorus performed the song in German one year and I thought it was so pretty. Over the years I've read several versions of how the song came to be, all of the stories were heart warming and inspiring. To read an article that tries to wade through the legends to get at the real story go here

I'm partial to Paul and Pap's version of Silent Night. Take a listen and see if you enjoy it too. Click on the link below that says Silent Night. You may have to hit the back button to get back to this page after listening to the song.

Silent Night

Pap and Paul's Songs of Christmas cd is packed with some of the best Christmas music I have ever heard, including the song Silent Night. You can go here-Pap and Paul's Music to purchase a cd directly from me. Or you can jump over to my Etsy Shop and buy one here.


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On a Cold Winter's Night that was so Deep

Oh beautiful star of bethlehem

The Christmas song The First Noel was never one of my favorites until Pap and Paul put it on their Songs of Christmas cd. Paul's vocals are truly outstanding-between his voice, the music, and Pap's tenor the song brings tears to my eyes every time I hear it.

After becoming enamored with the song, I began to wonder about it's origin. I assumed it was from the early 1900s, but I was wrong.

  • The First Noel is one of the oldest Christmas songs around, as old as 400 years
  • There are some folks who think the song originated in France others think England
  • Noel-is a loud shout expressing the joy surrounding Christ's birth
  • It's considered a folk song
  • The original version had many grammatical errors showing that an uneducated person wrote the song (which makes it mean even more to me)
  • The writer was obviously excited about Christmas even though during that time period Bibles were not accessible to every day folks and even if they had been most people couldn't read 
  • For many years after the song was written the clergy frowned on songs such as The First Noel making it a true song of the people
  • In 1833 The First Noel was finally published by William Sandys and soon afterward The Church Of England began using the song as a hymn

Amazing how the song survived just by word of mouth; sung around the fire passed on to each generation. Knowing The First Noel was written by someone with not much education but a strong desire to express their joy of Christmas makes the song seem truly from the heart.

Listen to Paul and Pap's version and see if you enjoy it too. Click on the link below that says The First Noel. You may have to hit the back button to get back to this page after listening to the song

The First Noel

Pap and Paul's Songs of Christmas cd is packed with some of the best Christmas music I have ever heard. You can go here-Pap and Paul's Music to purchase a cd directly from me. Or you can jump over to my Etsy Shop and buy one here.


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