Seasonal music from Autumn Equinox to the New Year celebrates music from Ireland, Scotland, Wales, and other lands where Celtic people settled. Through harvest time, to the old Celtic new year called Samhain (now called "Hallowe'en"), the time of the Winter Solstice and the longest nights, and on to the coming promised light of Christmas and the New Year, our ancestors braced for the cold with the warmth that the winter hearth (and a good pint) could bring. Recorded live at the studios of XM Satellite Radio.
"What’s in Santa’s Bag? An Earful. Here’s the best of what’s under the tree...Richard’s Celtic harp and Sansone’s hammered dulcimer explore seasonal folk traditions from Ireland, Scotland and Wales, Whether Renaissance dance tunes and hymns of Celtic laments, lullabies and carols, the music crackles with energy and glides with grace.”- The Washington Post
"Like icy crystals gathering on a frozen window pane, the 22 selections on this sweeping album are both delicate and complex. Add to the enchantment the sensitive and elegant performances of primary instrumentalists Sue Richards, on Celtic harp, a four-time National Scottish harp champion; and Maggie Sansone, on hammered dulcimer, who has brought the music of the ancient Celts to popular TV and radio.
Joining the pair are Connie McKenna, vocals; Karen Ashbrook, Irish flute, whistle, hammered dulcimer; and Ralph Gordon, cello. The tracks are divided into four sections, each celebrating a special time of year from early fall to the new year. “Harvest Home: The Ripening of the Year,” begins with a light touch; “Slieve Gallen Braes” laments those who have had to leave home to seek a livelihood in other lands. The pace quickens with “Harvest Home” and “Abbot’s Bromley/Twist Ye, Twine Ye,” sung by McKenna. Sadly, we hear her lovely lyrical soprano on only three cuts on this album.
The section closes with the beloved Welsh tune, “The Ash Grove” and two Turlough O’Carolan pieces, “Captain O’Kane/Planxty George Brabazon.” An Irish air, “Fire in the Hearth,” opens “Samhain: The Days Grow Dark,” and the set closes with “Swallowtail Jig.” The touching “Garten Mother’s Lullaby” is slightly reminiscent of “Silent Night,” but predates it by about six centuries. McKenna also reappears here offering her a cappella interpretation of “Sean Donegal,” a lament for the county by that name. “Advent: Waiting for the Light,” addresses the days leading up to the blessed birth with “Christ Child Lullaby,” which combines the lullaby with the sacred musical forms. “Rorate (Nativity)” is one of those infectious melodies that linger in the heart. The bright rendition of “Il est né,” from 17th-century France, melds into “Ding Dong, Merrily on High.”
Richards, Sansone, Ashbrook, and Gordon give a fully ornamented, but gorgeously blended, performance of “Mist Covered Mountains of Home,” and it’s no wonder that the Irish have often claimed this lovely Scottish piece. “The Twelve Days” depicts the true spirit of the seasonal celebration. Highlights include McKenna once more, this time on Yeats’ “Song of Wandering Aengus.” Two songs from New England are paired to delightful effect, “Simple Gifts” and “Jingle Bells.” (It did make me smile the first time I heard this combination.) The section also includes the familiar “Green sleeves,” and “Christchurch Bells/Bottom of the Punch Bowl” are fitting closings for this beautiful collection.
Merrily Greet the Time is an exquisite excursion through the centuries, and through those things that the generations have held dear, expertly and sensitively interpreted by Richards, Sansone, and company. Breathtaking from start to finish!"
- Dirty Linen Folk and World Music
Sue Richards ~ Celtic harp
Maggie Sansone ~ hammered dulcimer
Guest Musicians (tracks 3,9,15,19):
Connie McKenna ~ vocals
Karen Ashbrook ~ Irish flute, pennywhistle, hammered dulcimer
Ralph Gordon ~ cello
I. Harvest Home: The Ripening Of The Year
- Slieve Gallen Braes 1:10
- Harvest Home 1:55
- Abbot's Bromley/Twist Ye,Twine Ye (Song) 3:04
- The Ash Grove 1:24
- Captain O'Kane/Planxty George Brabazon 5:14
II. Samhain: The Days Grow Dark
- Fire in the Hearth 2:57
- Cantiga de Santa Maria,No.4 A Madre Do Que Livrou Cantiga de Santa Maria, No.166 Como Poden 2:46
- Garten Mother's Lullaby 2:16
- Sean Donegal (Irish-Gaelic Song) 1:53
- Swallowtail Jig 2:45
III. Advent: Waiting For The Light
- Christ Child Lullaby 3:04
- Rorate (Nativity) 2:45
- ll est ne/Ding Dong, Merrily on High 3:12
- Balloo, Lammy 1:51
- Mist Covered Mountains of Home 2:50
- Bressay Lullaby/Don Oiche 2:27
IV. The Twelve Days
- Drive the Cold Winter Away 1:21
- Drunk at Night, Dry in the Morning 2:45
- Song of Wandering Aengus (Song) 3:00
- Simple Gifts/Jingle Bells 3:25
- Greensleeves (What Child is This?) 2:30
- Christchurch Bells/Bottom of the Punch Bowl 2:39
written by award winning XM Radio host and TV personality, Robert Aubry Davis.