The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

Winds Sigh The Leafless Trees Among

Alternate Title: Christmas Signs.

For Christmas

"With footsteps slow, in furry pall yclad,
His brows enwreathed with holly never sere,
Old Christmas comes, to close the wanèd year."
Jno. Bampfylde.

Words: Julia Goddard.

Music: Arthur H. Brown.

Source: Arthur H. Brown, ed., In Excelsis Gloria-Carols for Christmastide (London: Thomas Bosworth & Co., 1885), Carol #21, pp. 44-45.

1. Winds sigh the leafless trees among,
The fire burns bright, nights are long,
The robin sings his winter song,
    And Christmas snow is falling.
Frost crystals lend their shining light
To rubies from the holly bright,
And mistletoe's pure pearls of white,
    When Christmas snow is falling.

Chorus:

To those that smile, and those that weep,
Come peaceful visions as they sleep;
For Christmas Angels vigil keep
    When Christmas snow is falling, falling, falling.
    When Christmas snow is falling.

2. Age thinks of many a Christmas past,
And hears old stories in the blast
Of Christmas Days too bright to last,
    When Christmas snow is falling.
While youth but learns from that same breeze
Of countless Christmas Days like these,
And glorious golden prospects sees
    When Christmas snow is falling. Chorus.

Sheet Music from Arthur H. Brown, ed., In Excelsis Gloria-Carols for Christmastide (London: Thomas Bosworth & Co., 1885), Carol #21, pp. 44-45.

christmas signs pp 44-45.jpg (138100 bytes)

Notes.

Adaptation of a five-verse poem by Julia Goddard, found in Margaret Holmes, ed., Recitations for Christmas (1887) and reprinted in a number of periodicals.

The wind sighs leafless trees among,
The fire burns bright, the nights are long,
The robin sings his winter song,
And the Christmas snow is falling.

Frost crystals lend their shining light
To rubies from the holly bright.
And miseltoe's pure pearls of white,
When the Christmas snow is falling.

To those that smile, and those that weep,
Come peaceful visions as they sleep;
For Christmas angels vigil keep
When the Christmas snow is falling.

Age thinks of many a Christmas past,
And hears old stories in the blast
Of Christmas days too bright to last
When the Christmas snow is falling.

While youth but learns, from that same breeze,
Of countless Christmas days like these,
And glorious gulden prospects sees,
When the Christmas snow is falling.

The above excerpt from the poem by John Bampfylde was from this longer sonnet:

With footstep slow, in fury pall yclad,
   His brows enwreath'd with holly never-sere,
   Old Christmas comes, to close the wained year;
   And ay the Shepherd's heart to make right glad:
Who, when his teeming flocks are homeward had,
   To blazing hearth repairs, and nut-brown beer,
   And views, well-pleas'd, the ruddy prattlers dear
   Hug the grey mungrel; meanwhile maid and lad
Squabble for roasted crabs---Thee, Sire, we hail,
   Whether thine aged limbs thou dost enshroud,
   In vest of snowy white, and hoary veil,
Or wrap'st thy visage in a sable cloud;
   Thee we proclaim with mirth and cheer, nor fail
   To greet thee well with many a carol loud.

John Bampfylde, Sixteen Sonnets (London: J. Millidge, 1778), Sonnet XV, "On Christmas," p. 15.

Bampfylde's story was apparently a sad one if we can judge from this account from Mr. William Jackson of Exeter conveyed by Robert Southey in his letter to Sir Egerton Brydgeson:

"King Street, running out of Holborn, and now forming part of Southampton Row, is connected with the fate of an unfortunate poet, John Bampfylde, whose sonnets Mr. Dyce has thought worthy of being included in his selection of the choicest in the language. "He was the brother of Sir Charles, ... and you probably know that there is a disposition to insanity in the family.

"At the time when Jackson became intimate with him he was just in his prime, and had no other wish than to live in solitude and amuse himself with poetry and music. He lodged in a farmhouse near Chudleigh, and would often times come to Exeter in a winter morning, ungloved and open-breasted, before Jackson was up, with a pocket-full of music or poems, to know how he liked them. His relations thought this was a sad life for a man of family, and forced him to London!

"The tears ran down Jackson's cheeks when he told the story. 'Poor fellow!' said he, 'there did not live a purer creature; and if they would have let him alone he might have been alive now.' When he was in London, his feelings having been forced out of their natural and proper channel, took a wrong direction, and he began soon to suffer the punishment of debauchery. The Miss Palmer (afterwards Lady Inchiquin), to whom he dedicated his sonnets, was niece to Sir Joshua Reynolds. Whether Sir Joshua objected to his addresses on account of his irregularities in London, or of the family disposition to insanity, I know not, but this was the commencement of his madness. He was refused admittance into the house; upon this, in a fit of half anger and half derangement, he broke the windows, and was (little to Sir Joshua's honour), sent to Newgate. Some weeks after this had happened, Jackson went to London, and one of his first inquiries was for Bampfylde. Lady B., his mother, said she knew little or nothing about him—that she had got him out of Newgate, and he was now in some beggarly place. 'Where ?'—' In King Street, Holborn,' she believed, 'but she did not know the number of the house.'

"Away went Jackson, and knocked at every door till he found the right. It was a truly miserable place: the woman of the house was one of the worst class of women in London. She knew that Bampfylde had no money, and that at that time he had been three days without food. When Jackson saw him there was all the levity of madness in his manners. His shirt was ragged, and black as a coalheaver's, and his beard of a two months' growth. Jackson sent out for food, said he was come to breakfast with him, and turned aside to a harpsichord in the room, literally, he said, to let him gorge himself without being noticed. He removed him from hence, and, after giving his mother a severe lecture, obtained for him a decent allowance, and left him, when he himself quitted town, in decent lodgings, earnestly begging him to write. But he never wrote.

"The next news was that he was in a private madhouse, and I never saw him more. After twenty years' confinement," adds Southey, "he recovered his senses, but not till he was dying of a consumption. The apothecary urged him to leave Sloane Street, where he had always been as kindly treated as he could be, and go into his own country, saying, that his friends in Devonshire would be very glad to see him. But he hid his face and answered,' No, sir! They who knew me what I was shall never see me what I am.' "

Source: J. Heneage Jesse, London: It's Celebrated Characters And Remarkable Places. Vol 3 of 3. (London: Richard Bentley, 1871), pp. 94-96, from The Autobiography, Times, Opinions, and Contemporaries of Sir Egerton Brydges. Vol. 2 of 2. (London: Cochrane and McCrone, 1834), pp. 257-261.

Bampfylde's poetry can be found in several sources. For this sonnet and others, see Alexander Dyce's Specimens of English Sonnets (London: William Pickering, 1833), p. 149.  For other poems, see Robert Southey's Specimens of the Later English Poets. Vol. 3 of 3. (London: Longman, Hurst, Rees, and Orme, 1807), pp. 434-437.

Finally, see Sir Egerton Brydges, Censura Literaria, Second Edition. Vol. 7 of 10. (London: Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, and Brown, 1815), containing a brief bio on Brampfylde and a couple of sonnets (pp. 309-311), plus a brief bio of Mr. William Jackson of Exeter (pp. 311-315).

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