~ Venereum Arvum / Scowan Urla Grun ~

Seven songs for the turning year arranged & performed by Rachel McCarron & Sean Breadin in the Lady Chapel of the Small Palace between January & June 2003

Scowan urla grun / Whar giorten han grun oarlac
Early green's the wood / Where the stag runs yearly

Click HERE for independent reviews / Click on images for sound samples



i) Grow Grow Green Branch (9.17)

grow green branch, grow green branch / oak & ash, oak & ash
oak & ash, oak & ash / flower & bud, flower & bud

grow in the greenwood / as the grass upon the meadow
grow green branch of oak & ash oh grow green branch

grow oak & ash wood / grow in answer to the season
oak & ash both flower & bud oh grow green branch

flower in the forest / as the birds sing in the branches
flower & bud in springtime sun oh grow green branch

grow in the greenwood / as the grass upon the meadow
grow green branch of oak & ash oh grow green branch...

Rachel - voices, drones & drum programming
Sean - voice, gardon, koboz, crwth & clarinet
Birds & Sheep - Houghall Woods, Durham, March 23rd 2003
Original instrumental composition by Sedayne circa 1988 after East European folk lore with words added by Thor Ewing for 1991 Blind Fiddlers revival; arrangement subsequently evolved by Sedayne & Thor in various contexts, with Rachel adding her touches in the present version for Auld Lang Syne



ii) Tempus Est Iocundum (14.32)

tempus est iocundum; o virgines
modo congaudete; vos iuvenes
o o totus floreo -
iam amore virginali totus adeo
novus novus amore est quo pereo

cantat philomena; sic dulciter
et modulans auditur; intus calleo
floss est puellarum; quam diligo
et rosa rosarum; quam sepe video

mea me confortat; promiscio
mea me deportat; negatio
mea mecum ludit; virginitas
mea me detrudit; simplicitas

sile philomena; pro tempore
serge cantelina; de pectore
tempore brumali; vir paciens
animo vernali; laciviens

veni domicella; cum gaudio
veni veni pulcra; iam pereo
o o totus flore -
iam amore virginali totus adeo
novus novus amore est quo pereo


Rachel - voice, organ, bells & frame drum
Sean - mediaeval harp, crwth & clarinet
Anon. 13th Century Carmina Burana ms.
Arrangement & Improvisation by Venereum Arvum / idiomatic Mediaeval-Sephardic Proximal exotica




iii) Elf Dance: Sir Olaf & La Folia (11.54)

Sir Olaf went out at early day
the dance goes well so well in the grove
& there he came on an elf dance gay
and we'll tread the dance in the morning

The elf lord reached out his white hand free
come Sir Olaf tread the dance with me

O not I will & not I may
tomorrow it is my wedding day

The elf lady reached out her white hand free
come Sir Olaf tread the dance with me

O not I will & not I may
tomorrow it is my wedding day

The bride unto her maid spoke so
what does it mean that the bells thus go?

Tis the custom of this our isle they reply
that each young swain ringeth home his bride

The truth to you to tell I fear
Sir Olaf is dead & is laid in his bier

And on the morrow e'er light was the day
round Sir Olaf's house three ghosts did stray

It was Sir Olaf and his young bride
& also his mother of sorrow she died


Rachel - singing, organ, drones & drum programming
Sean - singing, crwth & processing
Traditional Scotland / Elf Dances & Folia Variations by Venereum Arvum / the priority here is the Dance Song (or Carol) rather than the narrative, which appears incidental for those who tread the merry maze; hence the refrain



iv) Thomas the Rhymer (13.53)

True Thomas lay on Huntlie bank a marvel he spied with his eye
and there he saw a lady bright riding down by the Eildon tree
her skirt was of the grass green silk her mantle of the velvet fine
at ilka tett of her horses main hung fifty silver bells and nine

True Thomas he pulled off his cap and bowed down low to his knee
all hail thy mighty Queen of Heaven for thy peer on earth I ne'er did see
oh no oh no, True Thomas she said that name does not belong to me
I am the queen of fair elf land and I have come to visit thee

Harp and carp Thomas she said, harp and carp along with me
and if you dare to kiss my lips sure of your body I will be
betide me well betide me woe that wyrd shall never daunton me
then he has kissed her rosy lips all underneath the Eildon tree

Now you must go with me she said, True Thomas you must go with me
and you must serve me seven years through weal or woe as chance may be
she mounted on her milk white steed, she's taken True Thomas up behind
whenever her bridle rang the steed flew faster than the wind
O they rode on and further on, the steed rode swifter than the wind
until they reached a desert wide and living land was left behind

Light down light down Thomas she said and lay your head upon my knee
abide and rest a little space and I will show you marvels three
O see you not that narrow road so thick beset with thorns and briers?
that is the path of righteousness though after it but few enquires

And see you not that broad broad road that lies across the lily leven?
that is the path of wickedness though some call it the road to heaven
and see ye not that bonny road that winds about the fernie brae?
that is the road to fair elfland where you and I this night must go
but Thomas you must hold your tongue whatever you may hear or see
for if you speak a word in elfland you'll ne'er get back to your own country

O they rode on and further on, they waded through rivers above the knee
and they saw neither sun nor moon but heard the roaring of the sea
it was a dark dark night there was no starlight they waded through red blood to the knee
for all the blood that's shed on earth runs through the springs of that country

then they came to a garden green, she pulled an apple from a tree
take this for your wages Thomas she said, it will give the tongue that can never lie
my tongue is my own Thomas he said, a goodly gift you would give to me
I niether doubt to buy nor sell at fair or tryst where I may be

I doubt neither speak to prince or peer nor ask of grace from fair lady
now hold thy peace the lady said for as I say so must it be
he has gotten a cloak of even cloth and a pair of shoes of velvet green
Till seven years were gone and past True Thomas on earth was never seen


Rachel - singing, drones & processing
Sean - crwth, clarinet & processing
Traditional Scotland / Adaptation by Rachel McCarron / this represents a different approach to traditional balladry; beginning with pure unaccompanied singing, the song becomes woven into the xenochronology using certain crwth loops from DH7



v) Harvest Myth 2003 (7.54)

Rachel - organ, frame drum, bells & birds
Sean - crwth, clarinet, flutes & birds
Music by Sedayne / this piece came out of a dream & represents the cornerstone of the present epoch; other versions abound of course, with more to come, but this one pulls it back to the hearth; wistful a while to gaze into the flames with a braw pot o' neeps & ingans on the go after tramping the bonny post-industrial heartlands of Northumbria through stubble fields awaiting the plough



vi) King Orfeo (12.53)

there lived a king inta da east / scowan urla grun
there lived a lady in da west / whar giorten han grun orlac

this king he has a hunting gane and left his lady Isabel alane
o I wish ye'd never gane awa for at yer hame is dole an wae

for the king o fairie wi his dart has pierced yer lady tae the heart
an after them the king has gane but when he cam it was a grey stane

dan he took out his pipes tae play though sore his heart wi dole and wae
an first he played the notes o' noy and then he played the notes o' joy
aye an then he played da good gabber reel that might hae made a sick heart hale

noo come ye in inta wir ha' and come ye in amang wis a'
noo he's gone in inta their ha' and he's gone in amang them a'
dan he took out his pipes tae play though sore his heart wi dole and wae

an first he played the notes o' noy and then he played the notes o' joy
an then he played da good gabber reel that might hae made a sick heart hale

noo tell tae us what ye will hae, what shall we give you for yer play?
what I will hae I will ye tell and that's my lady Isabel

ye's take yer lady and ye's gane hame an yees be king ower aal yer ain
he's taen his lady and he's gaen hyem and noo he's king ower aal his ain


Sean - singing, saga-brass & processing
Rachel - singing, dumbek & processing
Coda - Stable Yard at Howick Hall, Northumberland 5pm June 12th 2003
Traditional Shetland Islands / Adaptation by Sedayne / as with Thomas, this began with the voice; the loops derive from the second piece on Proximal Parp, albeit accidentally, likewise faux xhoomi



vii) Epiphany (6.46)

Rachel - organ & programming
Sean - pocket cornet, clarinet & flutes
Corvus Monedula -Waterhouses, Durham 1st December 2002
Eudyptes Chrysocome - Edinburgh Zoological Gardens, 3rd December 2002
Music by Rachel McCarron based on Winter Psalm Tone from MAGI


Scowan Urla Grun is presently available in an exquisite black CDR edition in clear DVD box, complete with a copy of the supplementary CDR FOWER MUCKLE SANGS. Click button below for secure online payment (12 UKP inclusive of P & P)