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Origins: White Coral Bells/White Choral Bells

DigiTrad:
BARGES
CANOE PADDLE
EACH CAMPFIRE LIGHTS ANEW
GIRL SCOUTS TOGETHER
HERE WE ARE
I CAN SAIL
I LOVE THE DAFFODILS
MAKE NEW FRIENDS
OUR CHALET
PEACE I ASK OF THEE OH RIVER
RISE AND SHINE
TALL TIMBERS
WE ARE CALLED THE GIRL SCOUTS
WEAVE
WHEN E'RE YOU MAKE A PROMISE
WHO CAN SAIL


Related threads:
another girl scout tune about cabin by a stream (42)
Lyr Add: Life of a Voyageur/Voyager (53)
Lyr Req: I Want to Linger (camp song)^^^ (36)
Lyr Req: Suitors (O Le Le O Bahia) (trad. Brazil) (32)
Lyr Req: Girl Scout witchcraft song (22)
Lyr Req: Castles in Tovishka? (Toviska) (23)
Lyr Req: Guess How I Feel (Sometimes) (14)
Lyr Req: Baby Owlet (62)
Lyr Req: Little Johnny England (18)
Lyr Req: Tumba ta Tumba (22)
Lyr ADD: Ging Gang Goolie (Robert Baden-Powell ??) (71)
Lyr Req: 'shiny water, spirit daughter of the sea' (6)
(origins) Origin: Barges (Girl Scout song) (136)
Lyr Add: Spider's Web (59)
Origins: Sarasponda (child's/Girl Scout song) (33)
Old Girl Scout Songs (119)
(origins) Origins: folk song - Living in tents and cabins (6)
Lyr Req: The Green Cathedral (Johnstone, Hahn) (45)
Lyr Req: Ramblin' Man (Iowa Girl Scout song?) (3)
Origins: On the Loose (camp song)-author/publisher (17)
Lyr Req: the girl scout song Sailin' Away (19)
(origins) Origins: I am a rover, rolling along (The Rover) (16)
(origins) Origins: Walk With Me (Kanga's Song) (9)
Lyr Req: L-o-double l-i-p-o-p spells lollipop (27)
Lyr Req: Once a Giant Came a-Wandering (13)
Lyr Req: May all your dreams bloom like daisies (15)
Lyr Req: A Ram Sam Sam (Rolf Harris) (30)
Lyr Req: Adoreo? / Sarasponda (camp song) (11) (closed)
Lyr Req: Swinging Along (Gladys Jacobs) scout song (5)
info Lumi sticks (41)
(origins) Lyr Req: Who Can Sail/Vem kan segla (37)
Lyr Req: Atacatanuba / Okkitokkiunga (20)
(origins) Origins: Mr. Moon, Mr. Moon - Origins (4)
Lyr Req: Peace of the River (G Gosling, V Wood) (33)
Girl Scout songs - from the fading ditto sheets... (24)
Lyr Req: Girl Scout Blues (4)
Lyr Add: Falco Volava (Italian Scout song) (8)
Lyr Req: Spider's Web (Girl Scout song) (46)
LyrADD: I Love the Mountains/Daffodils/Flowers (12)
Lyr Req: The Birch Tree (Russian) (40)
Name of this song? (Land of the Silver Birch) (25)
(origins) Origin: Weave (Rosemary Crow) (32)
Girl Scouts singing grace (22)
(origins) Origins: & Lyr Req: 'River in my Heart'-camp song? (14)
Req:girl scout song-trees along black river/water (5)
Brownies, Scouts, Boys/Girls Brigade (35)
Lyr Req: Children of the wind - scouting (2)
Anybody remember 'Spider's Web' ? (10) (closed)
Lyr Add: Origins??? Scout Song Runboy (1)
BS: Help Girl Scouts stay inclusive of all! (76)
Help: Barges (2) (closed)
Req: Cowboy song - 'Web like a spider's web' (7) (closed)
The 'geriatric' girl scout (8)
(origins) Origin: Barges (9) (closed)


In Mudcat MIDIs:
White Coral Bells (from the Girl Scouts Sing Together Songbook, 1973)


GUEST,leeneia 27 Apr 16 - 10:04 AM
GUEST,Grishka 27 Apr 16 - 04:27 AM
leeneia 24 Apr 16 - 11:35 PM
GUEST,DrWord 23 Apr 16 - 11:07 PM
GUEST,Stafford M. Hall 23 Apr 16 - 07:24 PM
GUEST,Guest 12 May 14 - 06:08 PM
GUEST,josi 26 Feb 14 - 02:07 PM
GUEST,Rahere 11 Sep 13 - 03:29 PM
GUEST,Kathleen Moors 11 Sep 13 - 01:59 PM
GUEST,CallieIsSpooky 11 Nov 12 - 10:55 AM
GUEST 21 Oct 12 - 01:46 PM
GUEST,Girl Scout camp, Minnesota 20 Oct 12 - 03:02 PM
GUEST 31 Oct 11 - 03:25 PM
SharonA 10 Jun 11 - 09:58 PM
GUEST,MSL 14 Nov 10 - 05:22 PM
GUEST,Grishka 16 Oct 10 - 06:11 AM
Joe Offer 15 Oct 10 - 09:31 PM
GUEST,Grishka 15 Oct 10 - 10:06 AM
GUEST,Grishka 09 Sep 10 - 05:26 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 09 Sep 10 - 02:23 PM
GUEST,Grishka 09 Sep 10 - 09:27 AM
Q (Frank Staplin) 08 Sep 10 - 08:13 PM
Joe Offer 08 Sep 10 - 07:26 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 08 Sep 10 - 01:13 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 07 Sep 10 - 04:31 PM
GUEST,Grishka 04 Sep 10 - 01:50 PM
GUEST,Ceto 25 Aug 10 - 07:31 AM
Ebbie 23 Aug 10 - 12:39 PM
Ebbie 23 Aug 10 - 02:47 AM
GUEST,Bjarne 22 Aug 10 - 04:57 AM
Q (Frank Staplin) 21 Aug 10 - 02:08 PM
GUEST,Bjarne 21 Aug 10 - 06:17 AM
Q (Frank Staplin) 20 Aug 10 - 07:55 PM
GUEST,Bjarne 20 Aug 10 - 05:04 PM
Joe Offer 20 Aug 10 - 03:48 PM
GUEST,Bjarne 20 Aug 10 - 02:54 PM
GUEST,Bjarne 20 Aug 10 - 02:43 PM
GUEST,Alex S 18 Aug 10 - 09:02 AM
greg stephens 12 Aug 10 - 07:36 AM
GUEST,Guest 11 Aug 10 - 08:59 AM
AllisonA(Animaterra) 22 Nov 09 - 07:20 AM
GUEST,Another Girl Scout 21 Nov 09 - 06:57 PM
GUEST,WyoHarpLady 03 Sep 09 - 10:51 PM
Crowhugger 27 Jul 09 - 01:26 AM
GUEST,Randy 26 Jul 09 - 08:20 PM
Joe Offer 10 Jul 09 - 07:28 PM
GUEST,mishwam 10 Jul 09 - 06:20 PM
GUEST,Jack M. 08 Jul 09 - 09:41 PM
GUEST,FormerGS 17 Apr 09 - 08:44 PM
jimslass 05 Oct 08 - 11:47 AM
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Subject: RE: Origins: White Coral Bells/White Choral Bells
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 27 Apr 16 - 10:04 AM

Hello, Grishka. I'm pretty sure that white coral jewelry was widespread. If you google "coral jewelry image" you will find necklaces in soft orange (coral-colored)and white.


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Subject: RE: Origins: White Coral Bells/White Choral Bells
From: GUEST,Grishka
Date: 27 Apr 16 - 04:27 AM

The song is comparing the small white blooms of the lily of the valley to this coral jewelry.
That makes very good sense, leeneia! Now the question arises whether this points us to the USA, perhaps to Florida in particular? Were there other places where lyricists could assume such jewelry to be known?

(I remember the time when coral necklaces were fashionable in Europe, imported, of course, and always red or pink. I found them horrible, firmly associated to "maiden aunts without any understanding of little boys - and vice versa".)


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Subject: RE: Origins: White Coral Bells/White Choral Bells
From: leeneia
Date: 24 Apr 16 - 11:35 PM

I am going to contribute some technical stuff.

1. It is an error to start thinking about heuchera and go bumbling off into the realm of the coral bells plant. The song is about lily of the valley.

So why coral bells? In the olden days, jewelry was carved from the pure white stone of coral reefs. I've seen it (I hope antique) for sale in Florida, and it is amazing how radiantly white a matte stone can be. The song is comparing the small white blooms of the lily of the valley to this coral jewelry.

I believe it is now illegal to produce this.

2. When I learned this song at the age of 10, I thought it was really ugly, and when it came time so sing songs in the 4H, I hoped it would be skipped. Fortunately, it usually was.

Decades would pass before I learned what the problem was. The problem was the long I in "white." It is a diphthong, which moves from ah to ee. If you have a number of untrained singers and some are singing ah while others are singing ee, the music seems out of tune. Thus my impression that "White Coral Bells" starts out really sour.

If it was "soft coral bells" or "sweet coral bells", it would come out better. I learned all about diphthongs from a person with a PhD in choral conducting, who was hired to coach our church choir for some big Christmas concerts. What she said made sense, and the way I dealt with it was to stand in front of a good singer and do exactly what she did when singing diphthongs. That way we blended.

Just for fun, I made a MIDI of the song and played it as a round. It's actually quite pretty.


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Subject: RE: Origins: White Coral Bells/White Choral Bells
From: GUEST,DrWord
Date: 23 Apr 16 - 11:07 PM

Hey Stafford! Good to read your post ~ and glad you're playing your keyboard AND posting to Mudcat. The thread title caught my eye ~ then opened it to find I was the OP. Re-read a lot of the thread ~ great contributions, rather typical of the wonderful tradition of this forum. Keep playing and keep posting. I'll be humming the melody for a while now…
keep on pickin'
dennis


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Subject: RE: Origins: White Coral Bells/White Choral Bells
From: GUEST,Stafford M. Hall
Date: 23 Apr 16 - 07:24 PM

I'm 92 years of age and my wife learned this song in Girl Scouts in the 1935 era. I still play it on my Electric Keyboard in 2016. It sure is a very beautiful tune.


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Subject: RE: Origins: White Coral Bells/White Choral Bells
From: GUEST,Guest
Date: 12 May 14 - 06:08 PM

I learned this song as a lullaby in the late 60's / early 70's, but the words were a bit different.

White coral bells upon a slender stalk
Lillies of the Valley deck my garden wall
Don't you wish that we
Could hear those bells a ringin'?
That happens only when the faries sing.


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Subject: RE: Origins: White Coral Bells/White Choral Bells
From: GUEST,josi
Date: 26 Feb 14 - 02:07 PM

Sang as a Girl Scout in Connectut during 1950's as a round.
1. White coral bells upon s slender stalk.
2. Lilies of the valley deck my garden walk.
3. Oh don't you wish that you could hear them ring.
4. That will only happen when the fairies sing.

Heuchera is called coral bells and comes in white variety. Lily of the valley is a different species.

I think the lyrics clearly have origin in an English speaking country. Melody origin could be different.

One of my favorite songs from childhood.


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Subject: RE: Origins: White Coral Bells/White Choral Bells
From: GUEST,Rahere
Date: 11 Sep 13 - 03:29 PM

Not the tune, but the tradition, is alive in Belgium and quite a ot of France as a family good-will May-day gift. Researching Muguet links the symbolism to the Maypole through the norse goddess Eostre. Another descent leads to a Russian folksong made famous in the 1960s, which isn't structurally anywhere close to this tune.
What might be within reach is the nursery rhyme associated with the gift, in standard French 18th Century form, but with words which may well be far older, is here. It has a vague parallel to the American version, which makes me think it might be worth looking in either Canadian or Arcadian traditions for a halfway house.


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Subject: RE: Cloud Ships
From: GUEST,Kathleen Moors
Date: 11 Sep 13 - 01:59 PM

When I was a wee girl, I did a clapping game with my friends to the song, Cloud Ships...does anyone have memory of that?


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Subject: RE: Origins: White Coral Bells/White Choral Bells
From: GUEST,CallieIsSpooky
Date: 11 Nov 12 - 10:55 AM

I just wanted to say thank you to the person who posted the lyrics to Cloud Ships, I've been searching all over! My kids' favorite lullaby at night, only I could not remember most of the lyrics.


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Subject: RE: Origins: White Coral Bells/White Choral Bells
From: GUEST
Date: 21 Oct 12 - 01:46 PM

Here's to the next decade(s)of celebrating "Coral Bells"!

indeed.
I was pretty surprised when I opened this thread to find that the OP was mine! [my OP hadn't included "choral"] This amazing collaboration of scholarship and musicianship on the Mudcat forum represent the very best of sharing.
Thanks for the many historical, geographical, botanical, and musical insights.

keep on pickin'
dennis


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Subject: RE: Origins: White Coral Bells/White Choral Bells
From: GUEST,Girl Scout camp, Minnesota
Date: 20 Oct 12 - 03:02 PM

Who are these, swinging along the road
With a pack on their back, a song in their heart, to ease the load
It's been 50 years or more since they walked in through that door,
But they're coming along as happy and strong as ever they came before
They are guides all guides and in unexpected places
You'll meet their friendly faces and a friendly, happy smile,
And there's not much danger of finding you're a stranger
For commissioner or ranger they are guides, all guides.

Who are these, living in fresh air
With the shimmering sun, the pattering rain and mud everywhere
They will dine beneath the boughs and their leader always vows that they're never afraid of butterflies and hardly ever of bear!
They are Guides all guides...etc.


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Subject: RE: Origins: White Coral Bells/White Choral Bells
From: GUEST
Date: 31 Oct 11 - 03:25 PM

Sorry I have no info on "White Coral Bells." But I was interested in your mention of the song "Drifting." As a child, I also played that song from a John Thompson piano book.

The words as I remember them are: Light is our bark, brothers. Rest on your oars. Fair are the winds and the tide. Past the gray hills and the green wooded shores, o'er the calm river we glide.

It has more lyrics (at least four more lines), but those are all I remember.


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Subject: RE: Origins: White Coral Bells/White Choral Bells
From: SharonA
Date: 10 Jun 11 - 09:58 PM

Logging in to say hello and to refresh this thread! I have a gig tomorrow to play campfire songs for 9-year-old girls and, never having done it before, I have been surfing the 'net for songs remembered from my own 9-year-old-ness. Count on good ol' Mudcat to have a thread about "White Coral Bells"! It's been a pleasure to read through it and learn so much about the song (and the plant) (and the rattle)!

I come down on the side of those who feel that "white coral bells upon a slender stalk" is simply a poetic description of the Lily-of-the-Valley blooms. The blooms are white, they're delicate like coral (not coral-pink in color, since they're white!), and they look like bells. I don't believe that any reference to a second plant variety (Heuchera) was intended, and I would suggest resisting the urge to over-analyze the song in a way that would include this second plant in it. After all, the blooms of the Heuchera plant mentioned in this thread don't resemble little bells that one would wish to hear being rung by fairies... but the blooms of the Lily-of-the-Valley plant do! Therefore, this being a very short song/poem, I believe that the author was "staying on topic" by discussing only ONE plant variety.

I'm intrigued by the sub-topic of the colonial-era baby's rattle! I had no idea that coral was used for teething tots back then. I wonder if people soaked the coral in cold water to make it more soothing for baby, just as some of today's teething toys are meant to be refrigerated for baby's comfort.

I love Animaterra's poison-ivy parody of WCB! I will teach it to the kids tomorrow. Thanks, Allison!

Sharon
(not lurking much these days, but still coming to Mudcat for information about music as needed!)


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Subject: RE: Origins: White Coral Bells/White Choral Bells
From: GUEST,MSL
Date: 14 Nov 10 - 05:22 PM

I am astounded to find this. Both its longevity and how many people have been touched by this song.

I am particularly thankful to the 2003 post about a child's Colonial rattle and the years later reference to that post.

Here is a reference from the web: Under the Ralph Willard Tower Antique Show:'An oil on canvas framed portrait...of a child holding a silver rattle with coral and bells. This childhood artifact of the 18th century usually consisted of a sterling silver tubular body terminating in a whistle...a small polished piece of red or orange coral for teething would be fixed at the end opposite the whistle... They were well known in Colonial America.'

The Worcester Art Museum has a portrait of a child (2nd portrait)with a similar rattle by Joseph Badger and they also have references to similar silver and gold rattles at Yale and in New York. They apparently were made both here and in England.

An Article in Antique Digest on line called "Magic Bells" refers to the magic protective quality of coral.

And this:"From earliest times coral has been used as an amulet to protect children from childish diseases and teething troubles. In Mediterranean lands a string of tiny coral branches or beads is still kept on a child's cradle or placed about its neck immediately after its birth. If worn throughout childhood, coral was believed to have power to make the girl beautiful; it preserved her youth and beauty until as a mother she sacrificed her beads for her children."also from the web.

So I had an Oh My moment similar to one of your members who concluded that coral bells "are" lily of the valley. It is a metaphor. The protection of the garden walk by flower amulets would be best understood by children using one of their familiar toys.

"Choral Bells" works metaphorically as well but I think the association with the nursery is stronger. It is possible that it is a play on words protected by no early written versions.

I too have had this in my head for decades. As I grew up I was puzzled by the reference to a different flower in the sentence but I feel comfortable now that this is not an issue of identifying flowers correctly.

I think it is entirely possible that these rattles were actually called 'Coral Bells' and if that were true I think all could rest this case.(without a date!) It would be wonderful to find a nursery reference of Coral Bells as the proper name for the rattle and not just descriptive.

When I was growing up in Connecticut, mother had a bed (15'x 15')of what she referred to as Colonial Lily of the Valley. She told me that she and my father had dug the starter plants for it from a Colonial bed near what is now Colchester. She always had a bouquet, 10" across, in a bowl when they were in bloom. She dug some for me and I have them in my kitchen garden where they have been happily spreading in moist soil and filtered light, protecting us (as I have now learned) from evil spirits.

Here's to the next decade(s)of celebrating "Coral Bells"!
Thank you all. MSL


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Subject: RE: Origins: White Coral Bells/White Choral Bells
From: GUEST,Grishka
Date: 16 Oct 10 - 06:11 AM

Hi Joe,

thanks for suggesting a tempo header, which is useful for those who create a MIDI convesion. My own preference would be Q:180, in alla-breve feeling.

I must confess that I'm not good at ABC and essentially copied Ceto's lines; I was very proud to add that extra vertical at the end ;-)

Thanks also for mentioning the concertina.net/tunes_convert.html, which I didn't know before and tried out immediately. Very handy and quick!

Grishka


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Subject: RE: Origins: White Coral Bells/White Choral Bells
From: Joe Offer
Date: 15 Oct 10 - 09:31 PM

Hi, Grishka-
I'd suggest adding Q: 140 to the heading of that ABC notation.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Origins: White Coral Bells/White Choral Bells
From: GUEST,Grishka
Date: 15 Oct 10 - 10:06 AM

To refresh this thread, I took the trouble to transcribe the four-part version in Jerry Silverman's book, following Guest Ceto's pattern, transposed from G major to C major:

X: 2
T: White Coral Bells 2.1
C: trad, Jerry Silverman: Earth and Nature Songs, Mel Bay Publ., 2008, p. 55 (in G major)
M: C
L: 1/4
K: C
c2 B A | G3    E | F A G F | E4    |
C E D F | E G c e | d2 B2 | c4    |
c2 d c | e3    e | g f f a | g4    |
g e f d | e c g e | G2 d2 | c4    ||


Guest Alex' D major variant differs from this at the end of the third line. Who else has ever sung or read any of these, when and where?

(Mel Bay is a coincidential spoonerism of May Bell ...)

To play or display ABC tunes, try concertina.net


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Subject: RE: Origins: White Coral Bells/White Choral Bells
From: GUEST,Grishka
Date: 09 Sep 10 - 05:26 PM

@Q: So this is settled, thank you very much. Thanks to all the posters also from Bjarne (via phone).

@Ceto: In theory, this would improve your chances. But I'm afraid, however good your composition: for "proposing" to Girl Scouts you are probably late by many decades ;-).

The other questions remain to be answered.


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Subject: RE: Origins: White Coral Bells/White Choral Bells
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 09 Sep 10 - 02:23 PM

4/4 means sung in 4/4 time.


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Subject: RE: Origins: White Coral Bells/White Choral Bells
From: GUEST,Grishka
Date: 09 Sep 10 - 09:27 AM

Q and Joe, if my hearing doesn't betray me, your MIDIs have exactly the same melody as the file linked to right on top of this thread, just transposed and repeated.

Does "4/4 Round" mean four-part? If so, when would Hollis Dann let the second voice start? After two bars???

How old is Jerry Silverman's melody/continuation (which covers the entire text without repeating, as pointed out before)? Who has ever sung it "in vivo"?

The Quest continues.


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Subject: RE: Origins: White Coral Bells/White Choral Bells
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 08 Sep 10 - 08:13 PM

European Lily of the Valley, May Bells, Our Lady's Tears, are all names for the same plant, Convallaria majalis.
It grows from Zome 4 to zone 8. All parts of the plant are poisonous if ingested.
Attractive to bees, butterflies.
Invasive, can become a noxious weed in certain situations.

White coral bells belong to Heuchera
The cultivar Silver Scrolls has white to near-white flowers.
Cultivars of Heuchera sanguinea have flowers that may be white, pink, or shades in between. Heuchera pubescens is always white to near-white.
Also attractive to bees.


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Subject: RE: Origins: White Coral Bells/White Choral Bells
From: Joe Offer
Date: 08 Sep 10 - 07:26 PM

Q sent me a scan from the Hollis Dann Music Series, Fourth Grade Music book (1916). It's more-or-less the same tune as I posted before from the 1973 Girl Scouts Singing Together songbook, mostly a difference in enharmonic spelling. But since the 1916 version is the earliest we've found, I've posted it. Thanks, Q.
-Joe-

Click to play (1916 tune)


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Subject: RE: Origins: White Coral Bells/White Choral Bells
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 08 Sep 10 - 01:13 PM

refresh


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Subject: Lyr. Add: MAY BELLS (Round) / WHITE CORAL BELLS
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 07 Sep 10 - 04:31 PM

MAY BELLS
4/4 Round

1
White coral bells upon a slender stalk-
Lilies of the valley deck our garden walk.
2
Oh, don't you wish that you could hear them ring?
That could happen only when fairies sing.

With score. Also score for Two-Part Study. No author or provenance.

Hollis Dann, 1916, Fourth year Music, p. 115; American Book Company, New York.

There should be earlier printings of this round.

Click to play (1916 tune)


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Subject: RE: Origins: White Coral Bells/White Choral Bells
From: GUEST,Grishka
Date: 04 Sep 10 - 01:50 PM

I just found another source with four parts: The book "Earth and Nature Songs" by Jerry Silverman. The melody is almost the same as given by Alex, but rises even a full tone higher (up to transposition)! That book is well known in Europe, so the melody given there can't be considered totally spurious.


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Subject: RE: Origins: White Coral Bells/White Choral Bells
From: GUEST,Ceto
Date: 25 Aug 10 - 07:31 AM

The books I own and many internet sources give exactly the melody of the MIDI file posted here. Many others don't give any melody, but assert that it's a two part round. Therefore I think that this has always been the standard version.

The version in four parts linked above I found in one other place only, in C major. In my opinion, it's clearly apocryphal. Since the four lines of the text form a tight unit, the desire for such an extention is quite understandable. So it may not be too much of a sacrilege that I propose one of my own making, much easier to sing and sounding better, I hope:

X: 3
T: White Coral Bells 3.0
C: trad.-to-be, Ceto
M: C
L: 1/4
K: C
c2  B A | G3    E | F A G F | E4     |
C E D F | E G c e | d2  B2  | c4     |
G3    z | c B A G | z F2  D | G A G2 |
E z G z | C D E G | A c d G | c4     |


(For the closing fermata, add a C4 ad lib.)

Would the first group of Girl Scouts to try this out at the campfire please post their opinion here ;-).

Ceto


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Subject: RE: Origins: White Coral Bells/White Choral Bells
From: Ebbie
Date: 23 Aug 10 - 12:39 PM

sheesh I completely missed the repeated mention of 'choral' in the earlier posts. I thought I was being original. ;~\


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Subject: RE: Origins: White Coral Bells
From: Ebbie
Date: 23 Aug 10 - 02:47 AM

I'm going to suggest an heretical thought. Is it possible that the original theme was 'choral' bells?

As in
White choral bells upon a slender stalk
Lilies of the Valley deck the garden walk
etc, etc

I say that because, as noted above, coral bells and lily of the valley bear only a superficial similarity. But lily of the valley does have the bells.

White Choral Bells?


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Subject: RE: Origins: White Coral Bells
From: GUEST,Bjarne
Date: 22 Aug 10 - 04:57 AM

Thanks to all. Unfortunately I have to leave right now (on a jet plane ...) and I won't be able to access mudcat for a couple of months. Therefore I must thank "Q" and any future contributors in advance. My friends here, who are as interested as I am, will continue to watch this thread and inform me about any progress. Have a goot time!

Bjarne


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Subject: RE: Origins: White Coral Bells
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 21 Aug 10 - 02:08 PM

In about a week I should have a copy of the 1916 school song book that purports to have "White Coral Bells." Found one cheap.

There should be an old English song book with the song, if claims that it is English are correct.


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Subject: RE: Origins: White Coral Bells
From: GUEST,Bjarne
Date: 21 Aug 10 - 06:17 AM

Another important set of questions to all of you:

"open mike" gives a version for mouth organ that has the melody repeated. This makes it effectively a two-part round with two stanzas, each having exactly the melody given by the MIDI.

In other sources I know, including "Alex S"'s sheet, the lines 3 and 4 have their own melody, making a full four-voiced round. Which version is found in the old sources? And which one did you learn and sing?

My guess is that the extra melody has been added later to fill the four-part harmony at the expense of melodic consistency and general singability.

Bjarne


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Subject: RE: Origins: White Coral Bells
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 20 Aug 10 - 07:55 PM

A number of sites say "traditional English," but nothing more definite. In King's Singers and other songbooks.


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Subject: RE: Origins: White Coral Bells
From: GUEST,Bjarne
Date: 20 Aug 10 - 05:04 PM

Indeed, Joe, I had overlooked Jack M.'s contribution above who seems to testify as an eye-witness. He writes he saw the same lyrics and melody, just the title being added. This puts us back to America and 1916, and we should search for an origin earlier than that.


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Subject: RE: Origins: White Coral Bells
From: Joe Offer
Date: 20 Aug 10 - 03:48 PM

Anybody have Fourth Year Music by Hollis Dann so we can verify that 1916 date and check for origins?
I have grades 2, 3, and 5 - but not 4.
I've checked, and the earliest reference I can find is the 1939 Cokesbury Game Book. I'm not doubting the source above that cites the 1916 Hollis Dann book, but I'd like to see if we can glean for more details.
-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Origins: White Coral Bells
From: GUEST,Bjarne
Date: 20 Aug 10 - 02:54 PM

PS: I must add that of course there are many Girl Scouts with intellectual ambitions, even successful ones, but it is in the best traditions of Scouting not to display them unnecessarily in order not to shame one's companions.


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Subject: RE: Origins: White Coral Bells
From: GUEST,Bjarne
Date: 20 Aug 10 - 02:43 PM

So I guess we have England about 1920, that would fit both the tune and the text. Holland and Germany seem to be unsupported, or does anyone know about that evidence "cetmst" wrote about above, back in '03?

The Bells in the title must be flowers; if they were anything more rigid, you wouldn't need fairies to sound them. Actually the tune is not the best round ever written, simplistic in style and wasteful in ambitus, as Alex S rightly points out. It is the text that makes the song attractive: neo-romantic lyrics without any intellectual ambitions, as if made for a Girl Scout's friendship book. So I guess the melody was composed after the text, which is another argument contra a non-English provenance.

Who knows a printed source from earlier than 1930?

Bjarne


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Subject: RE: Origins: White Coral Bells
From: GUEST,Alex S
Date: 18 Aug 10 - 09:02 AM

A MIDI of the first half is given right at the top of this thread. The complete tune as sheet music I found here. I tried it out with my software SonneLematine, of course transposed down to suit my bass-baritone, and found it a challenge. Girl Scouting seems to have the miraculous effect that even contraltos can reach a" - what do we need fairies for, then? Resp. would Girl Scouts actually hear the flowers ring? Or is that a hallucination due to exhausted breath? Keep singing till the lungs burst!
Alex


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Subject: RE: Origins: White Coral Bells
From: greg stephens
Date: 12 Aug 10 - 07:36 AM

Do we have a tune for this?


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Subject: RE: Origins: White Coral Bells
From: GUEST,Guest
Date: 11 Aug 10 - 08:59 AM

I learned it in the mid-1950's at Catholic school, but my parents seemed to already know it from their childhoods in the 20's and 30's. Mom was English and she knew the song.


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Subject: RE: Origins: White Coral Bells
From: AllisonA(Animaterra)
Date: 22 Nov 09 - 07:20 AM

I learned "White Coral Bells" in Girl Scouts in the late 1960's. We also learned a wonderful parody:

Three shiny leaves upon a slender stalk,
Lovely poison ivy decks my garden walk!
Oh, don't you wish that you could stop and touch-
But you know you mustn't 'cause you'll itch too much!

Allison


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Subject: RE: Origins: White Coral Bells
From: GUEST,Another Girl Scout
Date: 21 Nov 09 - 06:57 PM

I learned "White Coral Bells" as a Brownie in Day Camp,Hills and Dales Park,Dayton,Ohio,1952. For the rest of my scouting days (to 1961)it was a standard campfire song.
Also, on the subject of the Guide's song,there's a third verse I learned in Girl Scout Camp (Camp Whip-Poor-Will Hills,Morrow,Ohio)in 1953.

"Who are these,a-singing around the fire?
They'll be happy to have your company,
If that is your desire.
Fun is on the way
At the sunset hour of day,
With a song to sing,a tale to tell,and many a tune to play.
They are Guides,all Guides,
And in unexpected places,
You'll see their friendly faces,
And a ready hand besides.
There's not much danger,
Of finding you're a stranger,
For Commissioner or Ranger they are Guides (double clap here),
All Guides."

Thank you for this wonder thread on these old Scouting songs. I adored being a Scout and my memories of the singing in camp and meetings are such happy ones. I,too,went to Camp Manzanita in the Angeles Crest Forest outside LA (1959)and still have the small paperback song book you could buy in the store there.

-Elsa-


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Subject: RE: Origins: White Coral Bells
From: GUEST,WyoHarpLady
Date: 03 Sep 09 - 10:51 PM

I learned this song from my mother when I was a little girl in the 50s. I'm sure she learned it in Girl Scouts (she was a camper and then a counselor) in the 30s.


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Subject: RE: Origins: White Coral Bells
From: Crowhugger
Date: 27 Jul 09 - 01:26 AM

It seems dry/dead coral colour varies: At least 1 kind of coral becomes black. I got some once brought from Barbados.

I also learned WCB from my mother who learned it from her mother who was b. 1905.

~CH~


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Subject: RE: Origins: White Coral Bells
From: GUEST,Randy
Date: 26 Jul 09 - 08:20 PM

"Coral Bells" is the type of flower (Heuchera). They come in several colors, including white.
Lily of the valley is a different flower, but shares the bell-like shape. Isn't it clear that the exuberance of the melody and lyrics points to the excitement of seeing TWO kinds of bell-flowers, noticing their delicate little bell-shapes, and thinking of them as part of the fairy-world? (Lots of fairy drawings show them drinking from lilies of the valley, using them as bonnets, as bells, as bowls, etc. Their tiny delicacy makes them seem like a big white flower bell that was miniaturized.)


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Subject: RE: Origins: White Coral Bells
From: Joe Offer
Date: 10 Jul 09 - 07:28 PM

Hmmm. How about "White Choral Belles" - Women's Christian Temperance Choir, or something like that.

But hey, coral is white when it's dead. When I was a kid in Wisconsin, old people used to bring us back dead coral from their Florida snowbird trips. I suppose it's illegal to transport dead coral nowadays.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Origins: White Coral Bells
From: GUEST,mishwam
Date: 10 Jul 09 - 06:20 PM

Perhaps it is meant to be spelled... White Choral bells! They are supposed to mean lilly of the valley, not a coral colored flower. I learned it as line my garden walk.


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Subject: RE: Origins: White Coral Bells
From: GUEST,Jack M.
Date: 08 Jul 09 - 09:41 PM

I have found White Coral Bells, under the title of May Bells, in "Fourth Year Music," edited by Hollis Dann, published by the American Book Company, of New York, Cincinnati and Chicago, copyright 1916. As presented in this collection, White Coral Bells is exactly the same as I heard it in the 50's, both words and tune, except for the title. Since no composer credits are given, although they are provided for the majority of songs in the book, the song might easily be much older than 1916.

If the flower "white coral bells" is different from "lilies of the valley," as described above by "Q" on 5/10/07, then it's easy to see why the title of "May Bells" would have been more appropriate than "White Coral Bells;" the latter would only relate to half (1) of the flowers mentioned in the song. On the other hand, the explanations presented above, that "white coral bells" were part of a device made from white coral in colonial times, also seems plausible.


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Subject: RE: Origins: White Coral Bells
From: GUEST,FormerGS
Date: 17 Apr 09 - 08:44 PM

I learned it in GS when I was little; I was born in 1986. Deployed to Iraq right now. I started humming this song and didn't know why, just a great childhood song. Maybe in a year or so another kid will remember it and find this post :)


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Subject: RE: Origins: White Coral Bells
From: jimslass
Date: 05 Oct 08 - 11:47 AM

yep, sang this as a Girl Guide in Liverpool in the '60's - we sang it as a round. When I became a Guider my Company (or Unit as we had to call them) was a 'singing' unit - it amazed me when visiting others where there was little or no singing.


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