Drive the Cold Winter Away

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DRIVE THE COLD WINTER AWAY. English, Country Dance Tune (6/4 or 6/8 time). D Minor. Standard tuning. AAB (Watson): ABB (Sharp): AABB (Barnes): AABC (Chappell). The song was originally called "When Phoebus Addrest" and went to an older air, apparently an ancestor of "Drive the Cold Winter Away." The latter takes its name from the burden of a ballad by Henry Gossan, written in the second quarter of the 17th century, who directed that it be sung to "When Pheobus Addrest." Antiquarian William Chappell thought the tune dated to the 16th century, but based this on one melody in A Compendious Book of Godly and Spiritual Songs (1567) that is only similar in respects. The adapted air (as "Drive the Cold Winter Away") appears in John Playford's first English Dancing Master of 1651 and all later editions (through the 18th and last, published in London in 1728 by John Young), the 1666 and all later editions of Playford's Musick's Delight on the Cithren, Walsh's Dancing Master, and both editions of D'Urfey's Pills to Purge Melancholy. Numerous ballads were written to the song in the latter 17th century, including a drinking song for Yuletide called "All Hail to the Days."


All hayle to the dayes that merite more praise
Then all the rest of the yeare!
And welcome the nights that double delights
As well for the poore as the peere.
Good fortune attend each merry man's friend
That doth bat the best that he may,
Forgetting old wrongs with carols and songs
To drive the cold winter away.

Jack Campin found the following passage in the memoirs of Elizabeth Grant of Rothiemurchus. She grew up in a manor in the Highlands in the early 19th century, and here she writes about the year 1812, when at age fifteen she and her sister arose under the direction of her governess:

In winter we rose half an hour later, without candle, or fire, or warm water. Our clothes were all laid on a chair overnight in readiness for being taken up in proper order. My Mother would not give us candles, and Miss Elphick insisted we should get up. We were not allowed hot water, and really in the high- land winters, when the breath froze on the sheets, and the water in the jugs became cakes of ice, washing was a cruel necessity, the fingers were pinched enough. As we could play our scales well in the dark, the two pianofortes and the harp began the day's work. How very near crying the one whose turn set her at the harp I will not speak of; the strings cut the poor cold fingers so that the blisters often bled. Martyr the second put her poor blue hands on the keys of the grand-pianoforte in the drawing room, for in those two rooms the fires were never lighted till near nine o'clock - the grates were of bright steel, the household was not early and so we had to bear our hard fate.

Source for notated version:

Printed sources: Barlow (Complete Country Dance Tunes from Playford’s Dancing Master), 1985; No. 22, p. 21. Barnes (English Country Dance Tunes), 1986. Chappell (Popular Music of the Olden Time), vol. 1, 1859; p. 173. Raven (English Country Dance Tunes), 1984; p. 41 (a facsimile copy of Playford's version). Sharp (Country Dance Tunes), 1909; p. 68. John Walsh (Complete Country Dancing-Master, Volume the Fourth), London; 1740, No. 125. Watson (A Rollick of Recorders or Other Instruments), 1975; No. 3, p. 4.

Recorded sources: Flying Fish FF-407, Robin Williamson - "Winter's Turning" (1986).

See also listing at:
Jane Keefer's Folk Music Index: An Index to Recorded Sources [1]

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