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Archive recording (Betty Aldridge)Contemporary recording - Puzzlejug
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This tuneful carol was written as “How Grand and How Bright” by William Henry Havergal (1793-1870), an Anglican clergyman. The words and music were written at Astley Rectory, in 1827, and published in Fireside Music, 1858. Full text of the carol.
It was also printed as a carol leaflet and sold by hawkers throughout Worcestershire, where it attained great popularity. It is now known as The Worcestershire Carol. The words were included in Snepp’s Songs of Grace & Glory, 1872.
The carol was handed down in the family of Ray Lord whose parents were from the Slimbridge area. He learnt it from his paternal grandmother Florence Henrietta Lord whose father George Lord, a farmer, was a wassailer in the Slimbridge area. Ray prized the song so much that he had the opening words inscribed on his tombstone at Frampton-on-Severn. The song, in turn was learnt by Ray’s wife, Betty (now Betty Aldridge) of Cam. The song collector Richard Chidlaw remembers conducting the marriage service of Betty to her present husband Walter and agreed to do so long as she sang the carol to him!
The carol is rare in oral tradition. The carol was recorded by Roy Palmer and then by Gwilym Davies from Betty in 1995. A version was noted in Worcestershire in 1909, a version was reported in the Morton Valence, Gloucestershire, area in the 1920s, in the Worcester area in the 1930s, in Herefordshire in 1978 and Roy Palmer collected a fragmentary version from D. Payne in Moreton Valence, in 1996 (British Library Sound Archive recording).