Working with Tradition
Break Forth
Village Carols 2nd Ed 2011
Plygain Singing
The Bells of Paradise
Brightest and Best
Come Sing For The Season
On This Delightful Morn
Hark Hark
Peace o'er the World
A Song for the Time
To Celebrate Christmas
While Shepherds Watched
Locations Maps
Carol Words
Tune Names


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The Festival of Village Carols

Grenoside Community Centre, Sheffield

Saturday 29th November 2014
9.30 am – 11.30 pm

All tickets for the Festival have now been sold

Post Code: S35 8PR  (View Map)

The eleventh festival celebrates the remarkable carol singing traditions which flourish in the communities near Sheffield and beyond.

The Guests

The Padstow Carollers from Cornwall uphold one of the most remarkable a cappella traditions in the West Country. For over two centuries their delightful carols have brought the joy of Christmas to their community.





     The Padstow Carollers in 2007






     The Padstow Carollers in 2012

The Foolow Carollers from Derbyshire nurture one of the richest and most distinctive repertoires of carols in the county that dates back over 160 years.





       Foolow Carollers on Christmas Day 1957






   Foolow Carollers on Christmas Day 2007.

The Royal Hotel Carollers from Dungworth, near Sheffield, celebrate a fine tradition of carolling renowned for its vigour and exuberance. The experience of their singing in the pub is unrivalled.

Carolling at the Royal Hotel, Dungworth, Boxing Day 2007,
organist Sue Heritage.

The throng around the organ at the Royal Hotel, Dungworth,
23 December 2012.

The Workshops

During the day workshops will be held to help participants learn the singing parts of fifteen favourite carols from the north-west of the city and other neighbouring districts. No special expertise is required; just enthusiasm for the carols and a willingness to join in. All the carols will be pitched to fall within the range of normal voices (as in the pubs).

Instrumentalists will be able to learn to play the accompaniments in parts (string/woodwind)These have been specially prepared and are based on the manuscripts used by village carol bands in South Yorkshire, such as the legendary ‘Big Set’.

The Talk

An illustrated talk on the Padstow carolling tradition will be given by Roger Gool, and set within its wider West Country context by Bob and Jacqueline Patten.

The Grand Sing

The day will come to a climax with a ‘Grand Sing’ featuring the carols tackled during the day in the workshops plus the guest spots. These include the Foolow Carollers from Derbyshire, the Carollers from the Royal Hotel, Dungworth, and the Padstow Carollers from Cornwall.

The Carols

Here are the carols which we will all sing at the festival.

             Hark, Hark! Hark, Hark! (SBVC 73) *
Egypt (SBVC 53)
             Old Foster (SBVC 128)
Tinwood (SBVC 168)
             Portugal (SBVC 140)
             Ring Out Ye Bells†
             Messiah Was Born†
             Thorpe Anthem†
             Three Harks (DBVC 220)
             On the Dew Besprinkled Lawn (DBVC 177)
             Awake my Harp (DBVC 41)
             Spout Cottage (SBVC 156)
             Hail! Smiling Morn (SBVC 62)
             Merry Christmas (SBVC 99)

*The numbers refer to the relevant pages in The Sheffield/Derbyshire Book of Village Carols.

†The music transcriptions for these carols will be included in the souvenir programme.

About the Festival

The festival is supported by the West Gallery Music Association. A buffet lunch will be available during the day, but must be pre-booked, and there will be refreshments and a
‘real ale’ bar. We intend to make it an unforgettable occasion with all the atmosphere, informality and friendliness of the best pub sessions. We hope that you can come.

Booking opens on 1st October. Book early to avoid disappointment.

Bookings & Enquiries: Village Carols, P.O. Box 2099, Sheffield S35 0XU (Ian and Norma Russell: 01224 645486)

The downloadable booking form is available on the website www.villagecarols.org.uk

The Festival of Village Carols is a not-for-profit organisation

As usual, the Booking Form will be available HERE on 1st October 2014. You need to download it and return it to Village Carols at the address above, together with your payment.



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On January 7th 2014 Ian Russell gave the 'Benjamin Botkin Folklife Lecture' at the Library of Congress in Washington DC.    The title was
‘The Hidden Carols: A Christmas Singing Tradition in the English Pennines’.
This is viewable as a webcast via the following links




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Village Carols is a non-profitmaking organisation which exists to record and promote local carol singing traditions. Its main roles are undertaking fieldwork and research, organising the collection of source material, and promoting local carol singing traditions.

Fieldwork and research

This takes two main forms:


interviewing carol singers about their traditions and recording the actual singing (preferably, in the correct context);


investigating record offices, libraries and archives for relevant references to local singing and music manuscripts.

Organising the collection of source material

The hundreds of tape recordings and manuscripts are steadily being indexed and organised into a usable archive for which there is public access.  The recordings of the carols are being copied and the copies placed in the National Sound Archive (British Library) and in the Archives of Cultural Tradition at the University of Sheffield.

Promoting local carol singing traditions

This is largely done through the production of the cassette/CD and book series. To date, there are ten sets.  For details, please see Village Carols publications. An order form is also downloadable on that page.

Ian Russell describes his approach to research, recording, documentation and publication in a paper written for the Folklore Journal in 2006, and reproduced here.

Festival of Village Carols

The Festival of Village Carols is held every two years to celebrate the remarkable carol singing traditions that flourish in the villages near Sheffield, and elsewhere. The first Festival was in 1994, and, apart from the year 2000, has always been held at the Community Centre in Grenoside.

To mark the Millennium, the Festival took place on Saturday 2 December 2000 at the Cutlers' Hall, Sheffield. The 2002 Festival featured the Glen Rock Carolers from Pennsylvania, USA at Grenoside on Saturday 30 November 2002. See the Report and the Pictures.

The 2012 Festival was on Saturday 1 December 2012 in the Grenoside Community Centre.

Village Carols

is directed by Ian Russell. He is Professor Emeritus at the Elphinstone Institute at the University of Aberdeen, and can be contacted by email via ianrussell@abdn.ac.uk.

Formerly a primary headteacher, he was the Editor of Folk Music Journal from 1980 to 1993. Link here to read a little more about Dr. Ian Russell's work at Aberdeen and elsewhere.

Contact Address

Village Carols, PO Box 2099, Sheffield S35 0XU

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The Derbyshire Book of Village Carols

edited by Ian Russell


It contains 85 carols, many of which have not previously published, from 10 different villages. They are presented in full score with a piano reduction with an illustrated introduction, notes on the carols, bibliography and index.
It forms a companion volume to The Sheffield Book of Village Carols.

The paperback edition is £15 and the hardback is £25.


Details and Order Form, (as PDF file) etc.,  here

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The Sheffield Book of Village Carols
edited by Ian Russell

New Edition is now available
Details and Order Form, etc., here

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Currently available recordings and publications:

English Village Carols  -  CD
SFW CD 40476
see full details here

Brightest and Best  -  CD and Tape Set (both available)
Hark, Hark, What News - CD and Tape Set (both now available)

Also released on CD:

On This Delightful Morn
Village Carols from Foolow in the Peak District
CD VC007


Break Forth in Song!
Village Carols from the Blue Ball Inn, Worrall

Village Carols CD VC011

Unfortunately, this CD is not now currently available



Of the three collections of carols, only the first Festival book is still available, but all the South Yorkshire carols are available in the Sheffield Book of Village Carols, edited by Ian Russell.

We regret that copies of all other publications and recordings are now unavailable due to the demand for them.

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Download Order Form for Cassettes, CDs and Music Books:  pdf   Word

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About Village Carols


Working with tradition



Village Carols Publications






Music Books


Latest Carol Book


Break Forth in Song

New CD from The Blue Ball


Past Festivals

Carols at Grenoside in 2002 and links to the Glen Rock Carolers


Grenoside pictures 2002


Festival of Carols 2004


Festival of Carols in 2006


Pictures of Carols in 2006


Festival of Carols 2008


Festival of Carols 2010



Other traditional Groups

The Kilmore Traditional Carol Singers from County Wexford, Ireland


Plygain singing from Parti Bronheulog,Wales


The Copper Family from East Sussex


The Odcombe Carollers



Location Maps


Words and music indexes of the Sheffield carols

Carol words - Index of first lines with links to words


Tune Names - Index of tune names with links to words




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Pat Malham and Frazer Jarvis run a website especially for
Local Carols in South Yorkshire and North Derbyshire.
This can be found at
  This is updated as information becomes available.

Site maintained for Village Carols
on behalf of the West Gallery Music Association
by Edwin Macadam
  Shelwin Music,
30 Eynsham Road, Botley,
Oxford, OX2 9BP.
Tel: 01865 865773
Email Address: