Bright Day

The Songs.

(All songs written by Ivor and Kevan Bundell except where otherwise credited).

1. Dreamtime – A spontaneous creation by self-taught digeridoo player Matt Cross, of Curdridge. The Dreamtime, or the Dreaming, is of course the mythological world – both past and present, or beyond time altogether – of the indigenous Australians.

2. By Liffey FallsLiffey Falls is a national State Reserve in Tasmania, located on the slopes of the Great Western Tiers. I spoke at some length to one of the Rangers there on the edge of the woods; he said I had a good chance of seeing a platypus. On that occasion my luck was out, but I did see a Superb Fairy Wren – and I almost saw a Thylacine . . .
~ Ivor

3. Watching the waters flowI happened to be in the US when I started writing this. It is my attempt at a Dylanesque, American ‘Country’ song. Hence the banjo. It is quite uncharacteristic of my usually strictly English efforts. Except that is, that it ends in catalcysmic doom. One of my favourite themes.
~ Kevan

4. Where lies Randall ?

“I last saw Randall by the Southern Seas,
Beyond Tasmania’s forests in the west
Where shearwaters burrow out a sandy nest
Upon those windy shores, beyond the trees;
Where lakes and boom town sidings, silver mines,
And dunes that stretch away as sedges sing,
And the huge façade and hall, a haunting
Reminder of Houdini days and Billy Pines.
He was not well; he coughed a lot and blood
At times chequered his handkerchief with spots;
He smoked no pipe; instead he carved The Flood
Upon a narwhal’s tusk and we drew lots
To see who would inherit it from him;
We laughed, a hollow laugh, macabre and grim.”

From: Randall A Triptych: A Narrative Odyssey (Part 1)
© IMB (2014 -16)

5. We will remember themIt struck me one day that I was born only ten years after the end of the Second World War – and how lucky I was.

6. Pondlife Memories of a childhood spent exploring the woods and ponds on Bookham Common, Surrey. See also Lambert’s Tea cards ‘Pond Life’ (1964).

7. Chalk Hill Blue I was on holiday in Greece when I heard the news of the Large Blue’s demise. I misremembered it being reported as the Chalk Hill Blue. The good news is that the Large Blue has been successfully reintroduced in the U.K. from a Swedish population. It is now thriving in parts of the south west of England. It remains highly dependent on a specific species of red ant, which take in its caterpillars to complete its life-cycle. A line in this song makes reference to a “hollow tree”. This image made its first appearance in a song I wrote called Children which was included on the album ‘Presence’ (1976 – and 2016).
~ Ivor

8. Kitnocks Hill ~ Meg MerriliesKitnocks Hill is in the village of Curdridge in Hampshire, where I live. A number of tales hang upon it – see
‘Meg Merrilies’ is, in this instance, a tune written by Paul Gateshill many moons past. We have borrowed it before, but I can’t remember where . . .

~ Kevan

9. Nobody here tonight An end of era song with imagery drawn from the night and the sea. Blackout.

10. Davey Jones’ LockerThe lament of a lover lost at sea.

11. Rights of Man – This is a traditional Irish hornpipe. I thought the minor key and melancholy tone, juxtaposed to the liveliness of the music, provided an appropriate postscript to “Davey Jones’ Locker”.

12. Come with me A song in four sections. Originally it was called ‘Harp Song’ and the words were written with some of the tunes in mind. However, instead of the harp I decided to use the church organ as the accompanying instrument. This song embraces and includes as we all make the same uncertain journey alone and together.

13. Bright Day ~ Goodnight The lyrics for ‘Bright Day’ are ours; ‘Goodnight’ is our version of the well-known funeral hymn or song. For more details of the complicated origins of this song see below :

The credits for this song are complicated :

The lyrics for Bright Day are ours – and Shakespeare’s (‘Bright day is done and we are for the dark’Anthony and Cleopatra). The tune, meanwhile, begins with a borrowing from Mike Heron’s White Bird (Changing Horses, Incredible String Band, Electra,1969), after which it goes elsewhere, although it still sounds to me as though it might be borrowed from the ISB somewhere. Apparently Mike Heron borrowed the melody of White Bird – or perhaps part of it – from a Hindi Movie, ‘Mahal’ (1966).

Goodnight is our version of this well-known funeral hymn or song. We first heard it on the ISB album The Hangman’s Beautiful Daughter (1968), where it is part of Mike Heron’s ‘A very cellular song’. He had heard it on a wonderful album of live recordings by Peter K. Seigal and Jody Stecher of local musicians in the Bahamas – The Real Bahamas in Music and Song (1966). The song is sung by Edith, Raymond and Geneva Pinder together with their friend and relation Joseph Spence – the Pinder family. The song’s title is ‘I bid you Goodnight’ While some songs on the album are credited to published works, this is one of those which just is, with no hint of its origin.

However, research on the internet suggests the following history :

In 1871 Sarah Dowdney (1841-1926) – an English novelist, poet and hymn writer – published Psalms of Life, a collection of 60 poems and hymns. Among them was one called ‘The Christian’s Goodnight’. It was introduced with this comment :

‘The early Christians were accustomed to bid their dying friends “Good-night,” so sure were they of their awaking at the Resurrection Morning’.

The first verse of the hymn goes :

Sleep on beloved sleep and take thy rest

Lay down thy head upon thy Saviour’s breast

We love thee well but Jesus loves thee best

Goodnight !

Sometime later the American singer-evangelist Ira Sankey wrote a tune for the words. Although the hymn is not included in Sankey and Moody’s popular collection ‘Sacred Songs and Solos’ (1877), they and their works were well known in both the UK and the US. In other words, it is likely that the hymn – known as ‘Sleep on beloved’ – also became widely known. It was included, for example, in the Cokesbury Worship Hymnal first published in 1928.[1]

At some point the hymn made its way to the Bahamas. However, it also clearly underwent development on its way or, perhaps, more likely, after arrival. The Pinders’ ‘I bid you Goodnight’ begins and ends with Sarah Dowdney’s first verse (more or less), but the middle is new – both in words and tune. It is characteristically African-Bahamian in style with its solo call and choral response structure. The full lyrics are these (bold text indicates the choral response, in which the lead singer also usually joins):

Lay down my dear brother,
Lay down and take your rest
A’ won’t you lay your head now
Upon your Saviour’s breast
I love you o but Jesus love you d’ best
O da bid you goodnight,
Lord Goodnight,
Lord I bid you goodnight,
Lordy goodnight, goodnight.

Lay down brother Spence
A’ won’t you lay and take your rest
A’ won’t you lay your head now
Upon your Saviour’s breast
I love you o Jesus love you d’ best
But I bid you goodnight,
Lord goodnight,

One these mornin’s brit early and soon
Goodnight, goodnight
Not a cricket, not a spirit gonna shout me on
Goodnight, goodnight
Lord I go walkin’ in de valley of d’ shadow-rov death[2]
Goodnight, goodnight
He’ll rod and staff shall comfort me
Goodnight, goodnight
. . . ? shall follow me on
Goodnight, goodnight
John de Wine[3] said I saw d’ sign
Goodnight, goodnight
John said I sawed a number of sign
Goodnight, goodnight
Tell A for den ark, d’ wonderful boat
Goodnight, goodnight
She built it on de land getting’ water to float’
Goodnight, goodnight
Now B for d’ beast at de endin’ of de wood
Goodnight, goodnight
He eat all d’ children dat would not be good
Goodnight, goodnight
I ’member right well, I ’member right well
Goodnight, goodnight
I went a-walkin’ Jerusalem just like John
Goodnight, goodnight

Lay down my brother Pinder
Lay and take your rest
A’ won’t you lay your head now
On your Saviour’s breast
I love you o Jesus love you d’ best
I bid you goodnight,
Lord goodnight,

Most of this middle section is clearly biblical in origin, appropriate to its use as a song at funerals. The ‘B for the Beast’ sounds like a borrowing from a customary ‘threat’ to young children, but it also has Biblical reference :

23 And he [the Prophet Elisha] went up from thence unto Bethel: and as he was going up by the way, there came forth little children out of the city, and mocked him, and said unto him, Go up, thou bald head; go up, thou bald head.24 And he turned back, and looked on them, and cursed them in the name of the Lord. And there came forth two she bears out of the wood, and tare forty and two children of them.
Second Book of Kings, 2.23-25, King James Version.

The cricket and spirit may refer to the widespread folklore belief that a cricket in the house is a lucky spirit that takes its luck away when it leaves and, more pertinently, foretells a death.[4]

Further research into Bahamian folklore and ‘nursery’ culture is needed here.

Meanwhile, the Pinders’ version of the song was not the first to be recorded in the Bahamas. The well known ethnomusicologist Alan Lomax, recorded ‘I bid you goodnight’ there in 1935.[5]  That version, however, consists only of the middle section of the Pinders’ song. That is, the introduction and ending borrowed from Sarah Dowdney/Ira Sankey are absent. The words of the solo call lines in Lomax’s recording are impossible to discern – except for a reference to ‘the good Lord’ – but the tune, the ‘Goodnights’ and the call and response structure are clear.

It seems reasonable to surmise then that the middle section of the song is a Bahamian creation, combined at some point with the Dowdney/Sankey hymn.

Now we have added another part – ‘Bright Day’.

Our intention is to provide a secular version of what is, in Jody Stecher’s words, ‘one of most beautiful songs in the English language’. We hope that you might find it good to use yourself for a friend or beloved’s funeral. You might even want to write your own words to suit the one you’ve lost.

© Ivor and Kevan Bundell 2016

Further refs : :

Waterson:Carthy@Loughborough Folk Festival 2008 – ‘Sleep on beloved’ :

Sleep on beloved sleep and take thy rest

Lay down thy head upon thy Saviour’s breast

We love thee well but Jesus loves thee best

Goodnight, goodnight, goodnight

Until our shadows from this earth are cast

Until He gathers in His sheaves at last

Until the twilight gloom is over past

Goodnight, goodnight, goodnight

Until made beautiful by love divine

Thou in the likeness of thy Lord shalt shine

And He will bring that golden crown of thine

Goodnight, goodnight, goodnight

Until we meet again before the throne

Clothed in the spotless robes He gives His own

Until we know as we have known

Goodnight, goodnight, goodnight

  1. The new Cokesbury hymnal: for general use in religious meetings: printed in round and shaped notes with orchestration. Music editor Charles C. Washburn. Nashville, Tenn.: The Cokesbury Press, 1928.
  2. Psalm 23
  3. That is, St John the Divine, author of the New Testament book ‘Revelations’ in which he ‘sees’ signs of the final battle between good and evil.
  5. Deep River of Song: Bahamas, 1935 – Alan Lomax and various artists.

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