Thursday, 19 March 2015

Blessing the Brine - a Nantwich Festival to be Revived

We have been helping Nantwich Museum to find a tune for an old, mostly forgotten song Blessing the Brine. This was reputedly sung at Ascension Day at a holiday to bless the brine well in Nantwich.
The words are recorded in Egerton Leigh's book Cheshire Ballads and Tales published in 1867. The festival was recorded by Rev Joseph Partridge in 1774 and mentioned by Thomas Pennant in his Travels written in 1784.

Our colleague in Ecosal-UK, Tom Lane, is part of a folk group in Lincolnshire and with Nigel Creasey and Teri Clarke kindly arranged a traditional folk tune to the words.

Video of Blessing the Brine recorded by Nigel Creasey and Teri Clarke.

WREATHS of varied hues we bring,
Flowers of the early spring,
Hand in hand we join a ring,
Round Old Biat pit to sing, God bless the Brine.
     Gather ‘Paigles,’ bring ‘Lent Lilies,’
Of ‘Sweet Nancy’ tie up posies;
Add ‘Ladies Smock’ all silver white,
‘Marsh Marygolds,’ childhood’s delight
Chorus, Wreaths &c.
Bawme the Old Pit with ribbands gay,
Torn from the groves green boughs display,
Whilst we in holiday attire
Lead the fleet dance both child and sire.
Chorus, Wreaths &c
Sound the lound trimbrel, beat the drum,
Nor let the clarion’s throat be dumb,
Here let us feast, and sing, and play;
Ascension’s feast’s our holiday.
Chorus, Wreaths &c.
Long since, before the Roman host
In pomp of war old Cheshire crost,
This pit our fathers’ labouring saw,
The garnered hoards from earth to draw.
Chorus, Wreaths &c.
We bless the author of all good,
For that which savours all our food;
Of gifts on man that showered are,
What gift to this can we compare?
Chorus, Wreaths &c.
The finny treasures of the deep,
The flocks that climb the mountain steep,
All food spread over plain and lea,
Without our salt would tasteless be?
Chorus, Wreaths &c.
Pledge of true friendship, for its sake
Wild Arabs scorn their faith to break;
Nor will their truth e’er prove at fault
Towards him with whom they’ve eaten salt.
Chorus, Wreaths &c.
We envy not climes where we’re told
The rivers run o’er sands of gold,
Nor sigh we for Golcondas’s mine
Whilst we can boast our pits of brine.
Chorus, Wreaths &c.
We hear in foreign lands, salt sick,
The wild herds roam in search of lick.
Who by words may dare to measure
The price of this heavenly treasure.
Chorus, Wreaths &c.
So when Ascension’s morn appears,
As years succeeding follow years,
Shall ‘Hellath Wen’ her children see
United here for mirth and glee.
Chorus, Wreaths &c.
And as our Saviour on this day
Triumphant rose from earth away,
So shall our thanks to Heaven arise,
So let our praises reach the skies.

Wreaths of varied hue we bring,
Flowers of the early spring,
Hand in hand we form a ring,
Round Old Biat pit to sing, God bless the Brine.


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