Kelly, Bryan: Joly Joly Wat
SATB and Organ or Piano
Included in the Oxford Book of Ballads and ascribed to an anonymous 15th-century author, the tale of Joly Joly Wat the shepherd who offers the infant Christ his ‘pipe, skirt, tarbox and scripe’ is among the best-loved of traditional Christmas verses. Its musical reference offers an obvious attraction to composers, and in Bryan Kelly’s new setting a sprightly ritornello embellished with trills is the musical counterpart to the young herdsman’s musical instrument on which ‘he made such joy.’
Written for Simon Williams and the Harrow Choral Society, Joly Joly Wat brings a fresh and lively note to seasonal choral concerts. The vocal writing is clear and straightforward, with occasional division of the sopranos, and an incisive and syncopated style that matches the shepherd-boy’s haste to leave his flock and his faithful dog keeping his ‘shepe fro ye corn’ in order to visit the new-born Jesus.