First performed in 1975, Nowell Sing We Clear returns with its songs, carols, stories, and customs
mostly drawn from Englishlanguage folk traditions throughout the ages.
This pageant blends old and new. The music and frivolity come from an age when midwinter was
a time for joyous celebration and vigorous expression of older, perhaps pagan, religious ideas. The
songs recount events surrounding the Christmas story and also the ancient customs associated with
the winter solstice. No clear line divides songs rejoicing at the birth of Jesus bringing fresh light
into the world and those with more ancient roots at the dark midwinter and its promise of a new
Nowell Sing We Clear celebrates Christmas as it was known for centuries in Britain and North
America and as it continues in many places to the present. A special and unusual treat is a
Mummers Play from Kentucky. Performed in the traditional manner, the play is typical of folk
dramas that survive to this day symbolizing and portraying the death of the land and its subsequent
rebirth in the spring. Many of our modern holiday customs, visiting, feasting, caroling and
adorning homes and churches with evergreen have their roots in antiquity.
True to its dual nature, the pageant contains many songs performed in an unaccompanied style,
while others are stamped with the energetic sound of fiddle, button accordion, electric piano,
drums, and concertina. Song sheets encourage the audience to sing along though, after three
decades of touring in New England, a whole generation has grown up with these songs. Each year
introduces different songs and carols to accompany old favorites.
Performers are John Roberts and Tony Barrand, widely known for their lively presentations of
English folk songs, and Fred Breunig and Andy Davis, well known in New England as dance
callers and musicians. Nowell Sing We Clear has become a regular part of some communities on
the Eastern seaboard.
The group has several recordings of songs from the show which have become popular items in
many households at this time of year. Their CDS are drawn from songs learned for their concerts:
The most recent are Bidding you Joy, Nowell, Nowell, Nowell and Just Say Nowell . Another, Hail
Smiling Morn, has a cover design by celebrated Vermont artist, Mary Azarian, and Nowell Sing We
Four was the first recording after Andy Davis joined the band. The first three LP recordings are
all well represented on a compact disk, The Best of Nowell: 1976 – 1985. All recordings are
available from Golden Hind Records