Song Lyrics and Notes


Out of Darkness - (by Lisa Lawson)

As the opening selection for this concert, this piece represents the soul’s longing sung over the rhythms of the earth, moving into soaring joy, following the spirit’s journey. 


The Wild Swans at Coole – (Music by Michael Lawson, words by William Butler Yeats)

Written in 1919, this poem describes the essential integrity of the soul despite the passage of time. Significantly, Yeats came into his greatest powers as he neared old age, growing more confident and innovative with his writing until almost the day he died. 

The trees are in their autumn beauty, 
The woodland paths are dry, 
Under the October twilight the water 
Mirrors a still sky; 
Upon the brimming water among the stones 
Are nine and fifty swans. 

The nineteenth Autumn has come upon me 
Since I first made my count; 
I saw, before I had well finished, 
All suddenly mount 
And scatter wheeling in great broken rings 
Upon their clamorous wings. 

I have looked upon those brilliant creatures, 
And now my heart is sore. 
All’s changed since I, hearing at twilight, 
The first time on this shore, 
The bell-beat of their wings above my head, 
Trod with a lighter tread. 

Unwearied still, lover by lover, 
They paddle in the cold, 
Companionable streams or climb the air; 
Their hearts have not grown old; 
Passion or conquest, wander where they will, 
Attend upon them still. 

But now they drift on the still water 
Mysterious, beautiful; 
Among what rushes will they build, 
By what lake’s edge or pool 
Delight men’s eyes, when I awake some day 
To find they have flown away? 


Drowsy Maggie (Trad.) 


The Year is Born Anew – (by Lael Whitehead)

This song was written by Canadian singer/harpist Lael Whitehead, who plays in the bands Jaiya and Banquo Folk Ensemble. 

The winter wind is blowing strong 
The frost is on the tree 
The night intones its dreary song 
The meadow wouldn’t see 
But the fire is bright and our delight 
Waits not for summer sun 
We’ll feast and dance and sing this night 
Till our revelries are done 

So play your pipe so sweet my lad 
And lassie, sing your tune 
And bring us there to make us glad 
For the year is born anew 
For the year is born anew 

The world has long laid in the grip 
Of winter’s icy fist 
Out of doors the cold of nip 
The hides of man and beast 
But here within the blazing hearth
Will keep our blood from chill 
And the table piled with such good fare 
Will keep our bellies full 

Now winter keeps us from the fields 
The plow it rusty lies 
The earth no fruit or grain will yield 
While the stormy wind it cries 
But soon the year will have a lamb 
And the spring buds they will form 
And Johnny and his Mary Ann 
Once more the woods will roam


Cluck Old Hen (trad.)


Kitchen Girl (trad.)

This Appalachian tune was performed by Virginia fiddler Henry Reed for the collection Fiddle Tunes of the Old Frontier, collected and popularized by folklorist Alan Jabbour in 1966, when Reed was over 80 years old. 


Journey Home – (by Michael Lawson)

This piece, with its open fifths and cyclical ostinato, represents the contemplative peacefulness that I feel in my own home in the country. 


The Homecoming – (Words and music by Lisa Lawson)

The song reflects the return of our own spirit to its centering place of the soul. 

The Warrior returns from his sacred quest tonight 
World weary, thirsty, he longs for her sweetness 
In his eyes are the fires of sorrow 
In his heart the love that he held through the pain 
She comes and leads him to her forest bed 
And there they bind and break 
The threads that pull with sorrow 

The lovers lay under the forest canopy 
She glances into the shifting darkness 
Seeing nothing, returns to the sweetness 
To the light that their love has revealed 
And paused beside the forest bed 
Caught up in the fragrance of their love and laughter 

An owl calls in the fragrant darkness 
A whisper of branches speaks of their pleasure 
Renewed, the lovers cherish the sweetness 
They rise, hand in hand through the mist of the dawn. 


Union Valley – (by Lisa Lawson)

I wrote the reel Union Valley in 2010 after camping at Union Valley Reservoir in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. 


The Wandering Aengus (Music by Lisa Lawson, words by William Butler Yeats) 

I went out to the hazel wood, 
Because a fire was in my head, 
And cut and peeled a hazel wand, 
And hooked a berry to a thread; 
And when white moths were on the wing, 
And moth-like stars were flickering out, 
I dropped the berry in a stream 
And caught a little silver trout. 

When I had laid it on the floor 
I went to blow the fire a-flame, 
But something rustled on the floor, 
And someone called me by my name: 
It had become a glimmering girl 
With apple blossom in her hair 
Who called me by my name and ran 
And faded through the brightening air. 

Though I am old with wandering 
Through hollow lands and hilly lands, 
I will find out where she has gone, 
And kiss her lips and take her hands; 
And walk among long dappled grass, 
And pluck till time and times are done, 
The silver apples of the moon,
The golden apples of the sun.


Sleep Sound in the Morning (Trad.) 


New Rigged Ship (Trad.) 


Straw House Jig - Boy's Life (by Lisa Lawson) 

These tunes, a jig and a reel, give the feeling of my own life in the country, living in a straw bale house surrounded by boys.

To Warm the Winter's Night – (Music by Lisa Lawson, words by Adam Christiansen)

In its descriptive narration, this contemporary poem binds together past and present. 

When harpers once in a wooden hall 
A shining chord would strike 
Their songs like arrows pierced the soul 
Of great and low alike 

A glow by hearth and candle flame 
From burning branch of ember 
The mist of all their music sang 
As if to ask in wonder 

Is there a moment quite as keen 
Or memory as bright 
As light and fire and music sweet 
To warm the winter’s night 


Greensleeves - (Traditional English, 16th century)

The melody was mentioned in 1580 as a “new northern dittye of the Lady Greene Sleeves.” It may have been composed by Henry VII. It has been used with many texts and even mentioned in Shakespeare’s Merry Wives of Windsor. 


The Gael - Music by Dougie MacLean.

This fiddle tune by the Scottish singer- songwriter Dougie MacLean was made famous when it was used as the main theme in the film “Last of the Mohicans.” 


Rakish Paddy (Trad.)

A popular Irish reel of Scottish origin. 


Of the Earth (by Lisa Lawson) 

This composition speaks to grief and to the solace we find by connecting with the Earth.


The Water is Wide – (Trad.)

This English folk song describes the challenges of love. Although the words have been changed many times, we have chosen tonight to perform the traditional version of heartbreak. 

The water is wide, I cannot get o’er
Neither have I wings to fly 
Give me a boat that can carry two 
And both shall row, my love and I 

A ship there is, and she sails the sea 
She’s loaded deep as deep can be 
But not as deep as the love I'm in 
I know not if I sink or swim 

I leaned my back up against an oak 
Thinking it was a trusty tree 
But first it bent and then it broke 
So did my love prove false to me 

Oh love be handsome and love be kind 
Gay as a jewel when first it's new 
But love grows old and waxes cold 
And fades away like the morning dew 

Must I go bound while you go free 
Must I love a man who doesn’t love me 
Must I be born with so little art 
As to love a man who’ll break my heart 

When cockle shells turn silver bells 
Then will my love come back to me 
When roses bloom in winter’s gloom 
Then will my love return to me 


Ring Out Wild Bells – (Music by Lisa Lawson, words adapted from Alfred, Lord Tennyson)

Alfred, Lord Tennyson, composed this poem during a visit to High Beach, on a particularly stormy night when the bells were being swung by the wind. 

Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky, 
Ring out, wild bells, let the old year die. 
Ring out the old, ring in the new, 
Ring out the false, ring in the true. 

The flying cloud, the frosty light 
The year is dying in the night; 
Ring, happy bells, across the snow: 
The year is gone, just let him go;