Day 8: The Three Drovers

We’re off to Oz today for The Three Drovers, a carol written in 1948 by John Wheeler and William G. James. Since there were no suitable videos about, Miss Mussel dove and took a stab at making one herself.

Drovers are people who drive cattle, sheep or any other critter you can think of across the outback. Nowadays 4-wheelers and caravans have replaced horses and tents for the most part and animals are more commonly transported by train or truck. Nevertheless, keeping a herd of 5,000 cattle from spooking in the middle of the night is still a highly-valued skill.

Her hunt for a non-Rolf Harris Christmas song was dangerously close to being place in the Futile Endeavour file but then this lovely appeared to save the day. It is part of James’ six sets of Australian Carols in which he swapped out European Christmas symbols for those of the outback. As such, the Three Drovers are the shepherds cum wise men of the Nativity.

Piano Nerd Factoid: James was a grandpupil of Liszt, via Arthur De Greef. In 1931, he became the Director of Music at the newly formed Australian Broadcasting Commission (BBC Oz) under whose auspices he persuaded a great many international artists to perform with the orchestra.

Across the plains one Christmas night
Three drovers riding blithe and gay,
Looked up and saw a starry light
More radiant than the Milky Way;
And on their hearts such wonder fell,
They sang with joy.
‘Noel! Noel! Noel! Noel! Noel!’

The air was dry with summer heat,
And smoke was on the yellow moon;
But from the heavens, faint and sweet,
Came floating down a wond’rous turn;
And as they heard, they sang full well
Those drovers three.
‘Noel! Noel! Noel! Noel! Noel!’

The black swans flew across the sky,
The wild dog called across the plain,
The starry lustre blazed on high,
Still echoed on the heavenly strain;
And still they sang, ‘Noel! Noel!’
Those drovers three.
‘Noel! Noel! Noel! Noel! Noel!’


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