Ken Stead: ‘O Carolina’

My good friend Ken Stead is a fine songwriter and a very clever guitar player too. Here’s one of his own compositions:


Check out Ken’s website here. And he has a CD out too, ‘Unfinished‘.

‘Peace be with you’ (a sermon for April 27th on John 20:19-23)

Who wants to be a failure? No one that I know! We’d all like to succeed, whether we’re talking about our work or our personal lives. Most people would like to have good marriages and strong families, with kids who grow up to be happy and successful as well. We’d like our businesses to succeed so that we can earn enough money to get by on, as well as having a sense of pride and satisfaction in what we do. Most clergy that I know want to be pastors of successful churches – churches that are growing in numbers and growing in the good effect they’re having in their communities.

And I suspect that all of us here today would like to be successful in our Christian lives as well. We’d like to get better at reading the Bible and praying; we’d like to be stronger in our faith, more resolute in turning away from our sins and learning new habits that help us follow Jesus. We’d like to be growing more like Jesus with every year that goes by. Who wouldn’t want to be a successful Christian?

No, we don’t want to be failures who find ourselves falling back into sinful habits that we thought we’d gotten the better of. We don’t want to be people who let the Lord down. We don’t want to be people who are too scared to speak up for him when all our friends are dissing the Christian faith. We don’t want to be people who run away and abandon Jesus when he is arrested and taken to trial before the high priest and the Roman governor.

And that, or course, is exactly what the disciples we read about this morning had done. On the night before Jesus died, when he was arrested in the garden, they had run away and abandoned him to his fate. Peter and John were a little braver; they had followed the guards to the high priest’s house, and Peter had even gone into the courtyard. But there he was recognized, and his courage failed him, and he denied three times that he even knew Jesus.

Imagine the feelings of these men and women on the first Easter Sunday when they begin to hear strange stories about the empty tomb and the appearances of the risen Jesus. No doubt they felt as we would have felt. No doubt they were caught between joy and skepticism, not knowing whether they dared believe it. No doubt they were also caught between excitement and fear. “Wouldn’t it be amazing if it was true? If we really did see him alive again, we’d know for sure that he was right, and that he really was the Messiah God sent. But wait – what’s he going to say to us? Is he going to remember that we all abandoned him and ran away? You know what he’s like: if he’s frustrated or angry with us, he’s never slow about expressing it! Do you think he’s going to have any time for the likes of us, after what we did to him on Thursday night?”

Read the rest here.

Nancy Kerr and James Fagan: ‘Dance to Your Daddy’

As I said on Facebook yesterday, James Fagan and Nancy Kerr are one of the most consistently enjoyable duos in traditional folk music today. I regard Nancy as one of the finest folk fiddlers in the world, and their voices complement each other perfectly. The instrument James is playing is actually a guitar-bodied bouzouki (if you look closely you will see that it doesn’t have six strings, like a guitar, but eight strings arranged in four courses).

Here are James and Nancy at the 2013 Bath Folk Festival playing their version of the traditional folk song ‘Dance to Your Daddy’.

James and Nancy’ website is currently under construction but you can follow them on Facebook here. Their latest CD is Twice Reflected Sun.

Tim Hart and Maddy Prior: ‘Copshawholme Fair’

The amazing voice of the young Maddy Prior, taken from the 1969 album by her and Tim Hart, ‘Folk Songs of Old England Vol. 1’.


A traditional song about the Spring hiring fair in Copshawholme which is located on the English Scottish border. Apparently the last time this hiring fair was held was in 1912.

On a Friday, it fell in the month of Avril,
O’er the hill came the morn’ with the blithe sunny smile.
And the folks were a-throngin’ the roads everywhere,
Makin’ haste to be in at Copshawholme Fair.

I’ve seen ’em a-comin’ in from the mountains and glen,
Both rosy-faced lasses and strappin’ young men
With a joy in their heart and unburdened o’ care,
A-meetin’ old friends at Copshawholme Fair.

There’s lads for the lasses, there’s toys for the bairns,
There’s jugglers and tumblers and folks with no arms,
There’s a ballad-singer here and a fiddler there,
There are nut-men and spice-men at Copshawholme Fair.

There are peddlers and there’re potters and gingerbread stands,
There are peepshows and puff and darts and the green caravans,
There’s fruit from all nations exhibited there
With kale plants from Harwich at Copshawholme Fair.

And now about the hiring if you want to hear tell
You should ken it as afar as I’ve seen it myself.
What wages they addle, it’s ill to declare,
The muckle they vary at Copshawholme Fair.

Just the gal I have seen she’s a strapping young queen.
He asked what her age was and where she had been,
What work she’d been doin’, how long she’d been there,
What wages she wanted at Copshawholme Fair.

Just then the pit lass stood a wee while in gloom
And she blushed and she scraped with her feet on the ground.
Then she plucked up her heart and did stoutly declare,
“I’ll have five pound and ten at Copshawholme Fair.”

Says he, “But m’lass, that’s a very big wage.”
Then he, turning about like he’d been in a rage,
Says, “I’ll give ye five pounds but I’ll give ye nae mair,
And I think you maun take it at Copshawholme Fair.”

He took out a shilling for to hold the pit wench
In case it might enter her head for to flinch,
But she grabbed at it, muttering, “I should o’ had mair,
But I think I will tak’ it at Copshawholme Fair.”

Now the hirin’s o’er and off they all sprang
In to the ballroom for to join in the throng,
And “I Never Will Lie With My Mammy Nae Mair”
The fiddles play briskly at Copshawholme Fair.

Now this is the fashion they thus pass the day
Till the night comin’ on they all hurry away,
And some are so sick that they’ll never go more
With the fighting and dancing at Copshawholme Fair.