Track Listing
1. The Holly and the Ivy | Mick: lead vocals 
This is a version of an old English carol now sung in Ireland. It blends Christian and pre-Christian symbolism where the holly and ivy evergreens are viewed as potent symbols of life and fertility.
2. Christmas Day | Rhys: lead vocals 
A composition of North Carolina banjoist Joe Newberry.
3. Jigs: Trip to Athlone/Castletown Connors, Reels: Father Kelly's/Man of the House
A “rake” of great tunes very much in the spirit of the house parties or “rackets” that were so much a part of Irish American community life for over a hundred years after the mid-nineteenth exodus to urban America. The first two jigs are traditional, as is the second reel. The first reel was written by County Galway priest Father Kelly who spent many years in Fiji.
4. The Bushes of Jerusalem | Mick: lead vocals
This is a composition of the great County Down songwriter Tommy Sands presenting Christ very much in the spirit of the South and Central America Liberation theology movement as a social activist working for justice and human rights.
5. Christmas in the Trenches | Liz: Lead vocals
This was written by songwriter John McCutcheon about a celebrated incident in World War One on Christmas Eve 1914 on the Allied/German front line where the fighting stopped mysteriously as midnight grew near. Troops from both sides emerged from the trenches to chat, exchange cigarettes and alcohol and even play an improvised game of soccer before going back to the grim business of making war.
6. O D’wata Holi Kemudnung/Pangulawit | Grace Nono: vocals
Two wonderful chants with roots in pre-colonial Filipino vocal traditions. The first is a chant of prayer for the sharing of blessings, unity and cooperation taught to Grace Nono by Mendung Sabal, a T’boli epic chanter and shaman from Lake Seubu, South Cotabato, Southern Mindanao, Philippines. The second is a chant that invokes the memory of ancestors and the harmonious relationships among humans and between humans and the earth. It was taught to Grace by Talaandig leader Datu Migketay Victorino Saway from Bukidnon, Northern Mindanao, Philippines.
7. Slow Air: Port na bPúcaí (the Tune of the Fairies) | Reels: The Piper on Horseback/Lady on the
Island/The Foxhunter’s
A beautiful slow air associated with the Blasket Islands in the Southwest of Ireland. We follow it with three great reels with a key shift from G to A to add to the exuberant lift in the final tune.
8. The Buskers | Mick: lead vocals
This delightful song in praise of street musicians who “fill that lonesome place between the earth and sky” with their music was written by County Down songwriter Colum Sands. It is a wonderful testament to the power of art to enhance the quality of our lives even in the most unlikely places and circumstances.
9. The Rebel Jesus | Louise: lead vocals (Featuring the Washington Square Harp and Shamrock
Orchestra.)
Written by Jackson Browne, this song reflects wryly on how the core principles of Christianity are largely ignored and abandoned in contemporary America.
10. Celebration | Mick
This charming poem on an Irish American Christmas Eve party was written by Bronx native Terry Winch who now lives in Maryland.
11. Breaking Up Christmas | Rhys: lead vocals
In parts of Southern Appalachia the big midwinter festive day was on January 6th, which is still known as Old Christmas. The party on the 12th or final day of Christmas was a big community celebration and this tune and song are associated with that festive occasion.

12. Miss Fogarty’s Christmas Cake | Mick: lead vocals
A parody of the classic vaudeville number “Miss O’Leary’s Irish Fruit Cake,” this was part of the Irish American repertoire by 1900 and was originally recorded by The McNulty Family in 1941 for the Decca Company.

13. The Cherry Tree Carol | Liz: lead vocals
This very old and mysterious European ballad dates back to the 15th century where it was sung in Corpus Christi processions. It relates the apocryphal story of the journey of Joseph and Mary to Bethlehem when Mary tells Joseph she is pregnant and asks him to pick some cherries to help keep her strong. He responds angrily, questioning the parentage of the unborn baby. The child then speaks from the womb commanding the cherry tree to bow down and yield its fruit, whereupon Joseph relents.
14. The Wren Song | Mick: lead vocals
I was among the last generation of children in my part of County Limerick to “go out on the wren” (pronounced “ran”) on St Stephen’s Day, the day after Christmas, singing for money at the front doors of neighbors’ houses. Without knowing it we were carrying on an age-old symbolic midwinter Celtic tradition marking the ritual sacrifice of the king to ensure that Spring would arrive on cue.
15. Reels: The Girl Who Broke My Heart/My Love is in America/Christmas Eve
Three great reels to round off our celebration. The first two have long been favorites among Irish American musicians. The last tune was written by Galway musician Tommy Coen and is now played by Irish musicians all over the world.

 

 

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