The Music of Elizabeth Alexander

Beware the Winter Settlin’ In

Irish midwinter merrymaking full of welcome and cheer

Words by Elizabeth Alexander

A whirl of midwinter merrymaking, cherishing dear friends as well as welcoming the weary stranger. In addition to a spry and nimble melody, this rowdy Irish jig includes a chorus of Gaelic “mouth music,” also known as “lilting” or “diddling.”

The optional children’s choir part is very easy to learn, and may be taught by rote if desired. The bodhrán part may be played as written or with traditional improvisation.

Celtic Band: flute, bodhrán, Irish or modern harp, 2 violins, cello & bass

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Composer Notes

Composer Notes

It sounded like great fun to compose a rowdy winter song involving a Celtic band, but coming up with a lyric proved to be quite a challenge. (Do you have any idea how many winter poems are rants against the cold, yearnings for a distant lover, or requests for another pint?)

It was when I remembered that my own family tree contains a 200-year-old branch from Cork that I decided to craft my own lyric – one which welcomed the weary stranger and cherished the merry friend. In the process I did have great fun learning about the grammar and vocabulary of Ireland’s English dialects, as well as reveling in traditional Gaelic “mouth music,” also known as “lilting” or “diddling.”

Text

Beware the Winter Settlin’ In

When all that’s left of rose be thorn
And frost bewrays a winter’s scorn,
The promises of a balmy morn
Seem hardly worth believin’.
When days take on a dimmer cast,
And meadowsweet be ages past,
It seems the punishin’ icy blast
Will never be spent and leavin’.

Beware the winter settlin’ in,
Settlin’ into your heart,
Settlin’ in, settlin’ into your heart,
settlin’ into your heart, settlin’ in.

When every gale’s a brutal shove,
Protect the fragile flame of love,
Lest bitterness stalk the borders of
Your slumb’rin’ and your wakin’.
So heed that when ye bolt the door
Against the blust’ry troubadour,
Ye keep a lamp in the window for
The traveler wrecked and shakin’.

Beware the winter settlin’ in,
Settlin’ into your heart,
Settlin’ in, settlin’ into your heart,
Settlin’ into your heart, settlin’ in.

For dread can worry a hope to naught,
And fear can trump a kindly thought
And that can render a friend forgot,
As quickly as a blinkin’.
The winter never will bring ye harm
For love can keep a body warm
And friends be ever a merry charm
To keep the heart from sinkin’.

Dig-guh-dee, jai-guh-dee, dig-guh-dee dum,
Dig-guh, dum-puh, dig-guh dum-puh-dee,
Dig-guh-dee, jai-guh-dee, dig-guh-dee dum,
Jai-dle, dai-dle, dow, dum.

So when the tempest bites and blows,
And slays your reason with its snows,
Remember the robin and the rose
Be patiently abidin’.
Tho’ it be long ‘til winter’s end,
Come laugh and sing with me, my friend
A song to hurry the ice to bend
And shoots to quit their hidin’!

Dig-guh-dee, jai-guh-dee, dig-guh-dee dum,
Dig-guh, dum-puh, dig-guh dum-puh-dee,
Dig-guh-dee, jai-guh-dee, dig-guh-dee dum,
Jai-dle, dai-dle, dai!

Elizabeth Alexander

© 2017 by Elizabeth Alexander

Performers

Performers

Premiere: Choir of First Unitarian Society / Dan Broner (Madison, WI)
Carrie Henneman Shaw, Laura Betinis, Nicholas Chalmers, Timothy Takach. Landmark Center (St. Paul, MN)