Tell Me The Old, Old Story
Words by Arabella Katherine
Hankey/ music traditional Celtic (
In 1866 in
London, Arabella Katherine Hankey, a 30-year-old banker’s daughter, was
recovering from a serious illness when she wrote a 50-verse poem, “The
Old, Old Story.” From part one of the poem came the words to the hymn
“Tell Me the Old, Old Story,” and from part two came the hymn “I
Love to Tell the Story.” (The line “For I am weak and weary” was a
picture of her condition at the time.)
We love these words. For our version, instead of using composer Howard
Doane’s 1867 music, we chose to pair Hakney’s words with the beautiful
traditional Celtic tune “Wild Mountain Thyme.” We did this
before reading how Doane came to write his tune that brought this hymn
into popular use:
In 1867, Doane attended an international convention of the Young Men’s
Christian Associations in Montreal. In the audience was Major-General Russell, in charge of British troops
quelling the “riots” in Ireland. When the general rose to speak, he did not discuss the Irish situation,
as was expected. Simply and very softly he said, “I merely want to read
a very beautiful poem which should be the dominant theme undergirding
everything we do here.” Then he read the words of Hankey’s poem as
tears streamed down his cheeks. Doane was so impressed by the poem, he was
inspired to write music to the words.
So, we’re happy that, 143 years later, we “Irishized” this song,
which was brought to light by a British general who was also struck by
these beautiful words during a tumultuous time in Irish history.
Let Them In by
One day during break at a gig, Dan played a simple chord progression in a
way that really struck me. I went home and wrote words and melody to it, and this is
the result. That’s Dan on harmonica.
by William Batchelder Bradbury/ Music by Jefferson Hascall
We get our bluegrass shoes on for this one, and that’s Dan singing the
lead part on our version.
This American gospel song was originally a poem titled “My Latest Sun
Is Sinking Fast.” The lyric was first set in J. W. Dadmun’s tunebook The
Melodeon in 1860, to a tune by Dadmun. The tune by Bradbury was
published in Bradbury's Golden Shower of S.S. Melodies in 1862.
Give Me Jesus Traditional
We love this simple, soulful song. It was one of our very first choices
for this album.
5. Still With Thee
by Harriet Beecher Stowe/ Music by Sheri O’Meara
While looking through Dan’s grandpa’s old hymnal, I came across
this hymn and was struck by these words
about the beauty of morning. No wonder. Look at the lyric writer: Harriet
Beecher Stowe! Yes, she apparently wrote other things besides Uncle
Tom’s Cabin, including this 1855 hymn text. Stowe habitually rose at
4:30 a.m.; the lyrics speak to her early morning walks in the silence
before the rush of day. We set it to new music and took the liberty of
modernizing some the words ... “breaketh” to “break.”
“Wayfaring Stranger” or “Poor Wayfaring Stranger” is a
traditional folk song of debatable origin—cited as Appalachian folk, old
Irish folk and Catskills folk. One theory is that it originates from the
Negro spirituals and there was a deliberate concealment of the song’s
7. Sing to the Wind
by Sheri O’Meara
I wrote this while watching the footage of the aftermath of the
earthquake that struck
in January 2010. Heartbreaking. How can we let the people know they’re
not alone? If everyone sang out prayers and words of hope, sang them into
the wind blowing their way—I’ll bet they’d hear.
8. When I Lay My
Burden Down American
This song (also known as “Glory, Glory, Hallelujah” or “Glory
Glory” and other titles) has been recorded by artists in a variety of
genres, including folk, country, blues, rock and gospel. That’s Gregg
singing the lead part on our version.
9. Be Thou My
This 8th century Irish hymn originated as poem. It was first
translated into English in 1905 by Mary Bryne, in
Dublin. Several years later, Eleanor Hull, a writer of English history and
literature, penned the prose into verse form and included it in her book
of poems, The Poem Book of the Gael.
The melody is a traditional Irish tune.
10. How Can I Keep
traditional/ Music by Robert Lowry
Also known by its opening line “My Life Flows On in Endless
Song,” this hymn is often (but, we’re told, erroneously) cited as a
traditional Quaker hymn. The first publication of the words was in 1868,
in the New York
Observer. We decided to
set this to a country vibe.
11. Lost In the
Night Words traditional Finnish/ Music traditional Irish (Carrickfergus)
Here’s our “melting pot song.” These words found in Dan’s
grandpa’s hymnal are listed as “translation of a Norwegian rendering
of a Finnish song.” The words about being lost in the darkness and
longing for morning seemed like they cried out for something achingly
beautiful. So we, of course, we set it to the melody from an angst-ridden
12. The Road
I wrote this in fall 2009 during a little bit of a rough patch.
When the road gets rough, sometimes you just need to lean on your friends.
13. Gospel Plow
We were pretty much done recording this CD when we decided to
record this song. Hope you can see why it was hard to resist. We let our
bluegrass show again here.
14. Abide With Me
by Henry Lyte/ music traditional Irish (Buachaill On Eirne)
This is an evening song, written by Henry Lyte in 1847, when he was
dying of tuberculosis. He reportedly finished it the Sunday he preached
his farewell sermon to the parish he had served for many years, before
leaving for Italy
in hopes of restoring his health. We decided to re-set these words to the
Irish tune “Buachaill On Eirne,” which we know as the melody to the
Irish song “Come By the Hills.”
I wrote this one day in fall 2009, for/about my dad, after he
showed up to do some work for me.
16. May God Go With You Words
by Sheri O’Meara
/ Music traditional Celtic (The
Our own parting song, set to the tune of the traditional Irish parting
song, “The Parting Glass.”