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Carols with a Norfolk twist

PUBLISHED: 10:17 17 December 2017

Lessingham - an invitation to carol singers?

Lessingham - an invitation to carol singers?

Archant © 2011

Keith Skipper wonders if some carols need a Norfolk makeover...

I have spent much of my life so far trying to embellish the most prosaic of subjects with coats of Norfolk paint. For example, I gave most of Shakespeare’s plays fresh titles after deciding he was really born at Stratton-on-Strawless.

The Tempest turned into Bit Dark Over Will’s Mother’s, The Merry Wives of Windsor transformed into Happy Mawthers of Winfarthing and Timon of Athens tilled new ground as Hossman of Acle. Hamlet for Roll-up didn’t seem quite fair.

At this time of year, I resume my campaign to give tuneful Christmas favourites a stronger Norfolk flavour. It began with a confession from 1956 that I thought Bing Crosby was dreaming of a Wighton Christmas in honour of that fine village three miles south-east of Wells.

A few festive seasons later, it struck me forcibly that the parish of Lessingham, four miles north-east of Stalham, sounded just like an invitation to tipsy carollers. (Say it slowly, breathe deeply and think clearly).

Plenty of other candidates have gathered around the lantern since for a rousing tour of Norfolk to spread comfort and joy. These are my leading village voices:

O Come Alby Faithful

As with Glandford Men of Aldborough

Hills of Northrepps Rejoice

In the Bleak Mid-Winterton

Hark the Hempnall Angels Sing

O Little Town of Bedingham

We Three Kings of Ovington Are

Good King Wendling Last Looked Out

I Saw Three Shipdhams Sailing By

The Holkham and the Ivy Todd

Nativity plays, of course, have long been blessed with that special Norfolk touch, especially in village schools. I recall three five-year-olds taking it all in their stride as The Kings.

Presenting their gifts at the stable, the first said “Gold”, the second “Myrrh” and the third “And Frank sent this”

All part of the season when you can make people forget the past with the present.

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