Origins: Borning Day (Hellerman/Minkoff)
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Origins: Borning Day (Hellerman/Minkoff)

Related thread:
Lyr Add: Mary and the Baby Hungry? / Borning Day (3)

Joe Offer 12 Dec 18 - 02:33 AM
GUEST,Hrothgar (at another computer) 10 Dec 18 - 06:14 PM
raredance 28 Nov 99 - 11:53 PM
sophocleese 28 Nov 99 - 11:52 PM
Stewie 28 Nov 99 - 07:06 PM
Stewie 28 Nov 99 - 07:03 PM
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Subject: RE: Origins: Borning Day
From: Joe Offer
Date: 12 Dec 18 - 02:33 AM

Hi, Hrothgar. I checked for "Borning Day" at the Harry Fox Agency Website, There's one song called "Borning Day" by Henri Franciscus (or Franciscus Henri). I don't think that's the song you want.

There's another song titled "The Borning Day," by Fran Minkoff and Fred Hellerman, published by Kohaw Music and Appleseed Music. It has been recorded by Fred Hellerman and Francis Minkoff, Harry Belafonte, and The Brothers Four.

We know Fred Hellerman from The Weavers. Hellerman co-wrote a number of songs with Minkoff. We have a thread on Minkoff here (click).


YouTube (click) has a number of recordings of "The Borning Day." Here's the one by Harry Belafonte:

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Subject: Origins: The Borning Day
From: GUEST,Hrothgar (at another computer)
Date: 10 Dec 18 - 06:14 PM

I have always thought this was a Bahamian traditional carol (I learned it from June Nichols, who came from Nassau), but I have found it attributed to others, including Fred Hellerman. Their claims might only be for arrangements, but I would much appreciate clarification.

    Hope you don't mind me moving you here, Hrothgar. -Joe Offer-

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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Borning Day
From: raredance
Date: 28 Nov 99 - 11:53 PM

Great song, also recorded by The Brothers Four on their Christmas album.

rich r

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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Borning Day
From: sophocleese
Date: 28 Nov 99 - 11:52 PM

Just a quick note in passing. I noticed years ago when choosing translations of Christmas songs that I always, without being conscious of it, chose those translation sthat talked more of the 'birth of a child' than the 'coming of the lord'. Infants mean more to me than pomp does, I guess.

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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Borning Day
From: Stewie
Date: 28 Nov 99 - 07:06 PM

Damn, missed another of those line breaks. 'So' in second last verse should start a new line.

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Subject: Lyr Add: BORNING DAY^^
From: Stewie
Date: 28 Nov 99 - 07:03 PM

It has been said that the religious celebrations as we know them at Christmas are the product of the medieval peasantry - the triumph of the common people over the church fathers whose view was essentially pessimistic in respect of the things of this earth. For the common people, the incarnate God became a real child to be fondled and rocked, the lowliest of infants whose birthday was to be kept with feasting, song and dance. It was the childhood of the redeemer that won the heart of Europe for Christmas.

The following is a tender little Christmas song that takes a West Indian or islander approach. It echoes the spirit of a traditional Spanish carol that began: 'In a porch, full of cobwebs, between the mule and the ox, the saviour of souls is born ... In the porch at Bethlehem are star, sun and moon: the virgin and St Joseph and the child who lies in the cradle. In Bethlehem, they touch fire, from the porch the flame issues; it is the star of heaven which has fallen into the straw. I am a poor gypsy who comes hither from Egypt and bring to God's child a cock. I am a poor Galician who comes from Galicia and bring to God's child linen for a shift. To the new-born child all bring a gift. I am little and have nothing; I bring him my heart'.

Hellerman and Minkoff's song is a potent little brew of sentimentality and optimism:

(Fred Hellerman and Fran Minkoff)

Mary and the baby hungry
Oh we know what hungry be
So we bring them peas and rice, a little ginger tea
Only pigeon peas and rice, a little ginger tea
Mary thank us with her eyes
She poor the same as we
She poor the same as we

Mary and the baby lonely
And lonely is not good to be
So we sit a while and chat a while, keep them company
Stay a while, make the baby smile, pass the time of day
When we see how pleased they be
It makes us glad we stay
So glad that we could stay

Mary and the baby weary
Oh we know what weary be So we make a bed, a pillow for their head, with down from the mahoe tree
Only down from the mahoe tree to rest them soft and good
We be sad these are all we had
But we do the best we could
We do the best we could

Mary and the baby rest easy
We go away and let them be
On hushed tiptoe with voice held low – and we look up and see
Star of hope shine in the sky, to mark the baby's birth
Seem to say it's the borning day
Of better times on earth
Of better times on earth

Authors: Fred Hellerman and Fran Minkoff Copyright Appleseed Music Inc ASCAP.

Source: Ronnie Gilbert 'Alone With' Mercury LP MG 20917

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