Souling songs

Leggi in italiano

Souling songs are the songs of begging that the poor (mostly children) sang going from house to house during the evenings between the end of October and the beginning of November in the event of the celebration of All Saints (All Hallows Day = All- Souls’ eve) and the Feast of the Dead.

The banquet of the dead

Halloween is a pale echo of Samahin (Samain or Samhain), which in Gaelic means “End of the Summer”, or the Celtic New Year, a magical night in which the gods were asked for protection againts the coming of Winter.
Formerly it was customary to move from house to house during the celebrations of All Saints’ Eve with a small procession of masked people led by the “Ambassador of the dead” to ask for the donation of ritual food for the banquet of the Dead in which the whole community would have celebrated the anniversary.
In the Middle Ages in Ireland and Great Britain there was the custom of preparing a soul cake of round form as an offering to satiate the hunger of the dead who were believed to visit the living during Samain: to keep them good throughout the coming year, the housewives prepared some special sweets, which soon ended up satisfying the much more earthy and voracious appetites of the poor! These cakes were distributed in charity or given to the Soulers.
Even in certain regions of Italy (Emilia Romagna, or Sardinia and more generally in southern Italy) the practice of food begging was widespread among the poor and children: “Ceci cotti per l’anima dei morti” [“Chickpeas cooked for the soul of the dead“], they sang armed of spoons and bowls, in front of the gentry’ s houses.

SOULING

The tradition of “a-souling” or “a-soalin” is identical to wassailing and Christmas caroling (see), but here in exchange for cakes, often called Soul, the beggars promised to recite prayers for the dead. More prosaically it was said that every cake eaten represented a soul freed from Purgatory. The custom is often seen as the origin of the modern “Trick or Treating” of children masked by ghosts or monsters that play at the doors of the houses asking for “some good thing to eat”.
Already at the end of the 1800s the tradition of the soul cake had faded, and where the begging tradition still survived, the children were given apples or coins: in general the children did their begging by day.
CHORUS
Soul! soul! for a soul-cake;
Pray, good mistress, for a soul-cake.
One for Peter, two for Paul,
Three for Them who made us all.
Soul! soul! for an apple or two;
If you’ve got no apples, pears will do.
Up with your kettle, and down with your pan;
Give me a good big one, and I’ll be gone.
An apple or pear, a plum or a cherry,
Is a very good thing to make us merry.

Another Soulers song was transcribed by John Brand in his “Popular Antiquities” (1777) taken directly from the lips of “the merry pack, who sing from door to door, on the eve of All – Soul’s Day, in Cheshire
Chorus
“Soul day, soul day, Saul
One for Peter, two for Paul,
Three for Him who made us all.
Put your hand in your pocket and pull out your keys,
Go down into the cellar, bring up what you please;
A glass of your wine, or a cup of your beer,
And we’ll never come souling till this time next year.
We are a pack of merry boys, all in a mind,
We are come a souling for what we can find,
Soul, soul, sole of my shoe,
If you have no apples, money will do;
Up with your kettle and down with your pan,
Give us an answer and let us be gone
An apple, a pear, a plum or a cherry,
Any good thing that will make us all merry.

SOUL CAKE

The song “Soul cake” also known as “A Soalin”, “Souling Song Cheshire” “Hey ho, nobody home” was published (text and melody) by Lucy Broadwood and JA Fuller Maitland in the English County Songs in 1893, reporting the tradition still alive in Cheshire and Shropshire (West Midlands) of “souling”: the transcription was a few years earlier at the hands of Rev. MP Holme of Tattenhall, Cheshire as he had heard it from a local school girl. In 1963, the American folk group Peter, Paul and Mary recorded a version of this traditional song, entitled “A ‘Soalin”, reworking the song dating back to the Elizabethan era “Hey ho, nobody home”.
During the reign of Queen Elizabeth, depending to the county or local customs, the quest was made by the poorest on the evening of Saint Stephen or Christmas Eve and it was a bad omen to send the beggars away empty-handed.

HEY HO, NOBODY HOME

Sung As a Round (XVI sec)
Voice 1: Hey, ho, nobody home;
Voice 1: Meat nor drink nor money have I none,
Voice 2 : Hey, ho, nobody home;
Voice 1: Yet will I be merry.
Voice 2: Meat nor drink nor money have I none,
Voice 3: Hey, ho, nobody home;
Voice 1: Hey, ho, nobody home;
Voice 2: Yet wiIll be merry.
Voice 3: Meat nor drink nor money have I none,
Voice 1: Meat nor drink nor money have I none,
Voice 2: Yet will I be merry.
Voice 1: Yet will be merry.

Peter, Paul & Mary from “A Holiday Celebration” 1988

Sting live (from II to IV)

Sting in If on a Winter’s Night 2009

Lothlorien

I
Hey ho, nobody home,
meat nor drink nor money have I none
Yet shall we be merry,
hey ho, nobody home
Meat nor drink nor money have I none
Yet shall we be merry,
Hey ho, nobody home
CHORUS
A soul, a soul cake,
please good missus a soul cake.
An apple, a pear, a plum, a cherry,
any good thing to make us all merry,

A soul, a soul cake,
please good missus a soul cake.
One for Peter, two for Paul, (1)
three for Him who made us all.
II
God bless the master of this house,
and the mistress also.
And all the little children
that round your table grow.
The cattle in your stable
and the dog by your front door. (2)
And all that dwell within your gates
we wish you ten times more.
III
Go down into the cellar
and see what you can find.
If the barrels are not empty
we hope you will be kind.
We hope you will be kind
with your apple and strawber’ (3)
For we’ll come no more a ‘soalin’
till Xmas time next year.
IV (4)
The streets are very dirty,
my shoes are very thin
I have a little pocket
to put a penny in
If you haven’t got a penny,
a ha’ penny will do
If you haven’t got a ha’ penny
then God bless you
V(5)
Now to the Lord sing praises all you within this place
And with true love and brotherhood
each other now embrace
This holy tide of Christmas,
of beauty and of grace
Oh tidings of comfort and joy
(FOOTNOTE)
1) Peter and Paul are the saints of the Roman Church: Peter, the apostle indicated in the Gospels as the canonical stone on which the Church is founded and Paul, who spread Catholicism among the Gentiles
2) or “Likewise young men and maidens, Your cattle and your store”
3) strong beer=strawber: Sitng sings “pear”
4) a typical wassail stanza
5) the verse added by Paul Stookey comes from Carol “God rest you Merry Gentlemen” (whose melody intertwines with that of Soul Cake) see

Kristen Lawrence from A broom with a view 2014: All Hallows Version- Kristen writes and arranges music she calls her Halloween Carols

Chorus 
Soul Day, Soul Day, we be come a’ souling.
Pray, good people, remember the poor,
And give us a soul cake.
Soul, soul, a soul cake!
Please, good lady, a soul cake!
An apple, a pear, a plum or a cherry,
Any good thing to make us merry.
Soul, soul, a soul cake!
Pray we for a soul cake!
One for Peter, two for Paul,
And three for Him who made us all.
I
God bless the master of this house,
the mistress also,
And all the little children
who ‘round your table grow.
Likewise, your men and maidens,
your cattle and your store,
And all that dwell within your gates,
we wish you ten times more.
I bridge
Souling Day,
so we pray for the souls departed.
Pray give us a cake,
For we are all poor people
well-known to you before.
II bridge
Little Jack, Jack sat on his gate,
Crying for butter, to butter his cake.
Up with your kettles, and down with your pans,
Give us our souling, and we’ll be gone.
II
Down into the cellar,
and see what you can find.
If your barrels are not empty,
we hope you will prove kind.
We hope you will prove kind
with your apples and your grain,
And we’ll come no more a’ souling
‘til this month comes again.
III
Soul Day, Soul Day, we have been praying
For the souls departed, so pray good people, give us a cake.
So give us a cake for charity’s sake
And our blessing we’ll leave at your door.

Samhain version

Chorus
Soul, soul, soul cakes!
We come hunting for soul cakes!
We are dead, but like we said,
On this night we’ll take your bread
And while you’re out of your abode,
Lighting fires of Samhain old,
Think of us, out of body
As we are, you, too, shall be.
I
Samhain Night, at long last,
We parade from ages past
A journey from the Otherworld
Oh, the hairs that we have curled!
CHORUS
II
Winter’s Eve surrounds us,
Its open portal astounds us.
We creep into the living sphere,
And see where memories summon here.
III
Find us in this coldness,
Visiting with much boldness.
Share your food; we’ll share our power
To discern a future hour.
IV
Summer’s End, Summer’s End
Will the sun return, vital warmth to send?
Summer’s End, Summer’s End
Darkness lengthens in its stride
across the sleeping land.
V
Little Jack, Jack sat on his gate,
Offering goblins and demons his cake.
Up with the chill and down with the sun,
Waning and waning, the Dark Half’s begun.
VI
All this night as boundaries untie,
Visitors friendly and frightful stop by.
Up with your mask and down with your feet,
Marching and marching to lead out the fleet.
VII
How about this dwelling?
Its offerings are compelling,
With drinks and cakes and porridge,
And cherries and berries from storage.
VIII
Rattles at your door!
Don’t be scared, but give us some more!
A banshee (1) or a fershee (2) might delight
by new firelight.
CHORUS

NOTE
1) “woman of the fairies”
2) Fer-side [Fershee], a male fairy

Some recipes

With the name of Soul Cake we indicate many variations of traditional sweets from sweet bun to dried fruit cake.

Parkin cakeSoul-mass Cake
http://oakden.co.uk/harcake-soul-mass-cake/
http://oakden.co.uk/yorkshire-parkin/

In Italy the tradition is mainly based on biscuits vaguely reminiscent of the bones of the dead or the fingers of hands. In Piedmont they are the “ossa d’mort”, a base of almonds, but they can also be a variant of offelle with dried figs, almonds and sultanas (Lombardy and Tuscany) or in the form of horses (Trentino Alto Adige).
FAVE E OSSA D’MORT:
http://www.lericettedellavale.com/biscotti-ossa-di-morto-1657.html
http://cookingbreakdown.blogspot.it/2011/10/ognissanti-e-il-nostro-halloween-fave.html
PANE DEI MORTI:
http://www.ricettemania.it/ricetta-pane-dei-morti-443.html

LINK
http://ontanomagico.altervista.org/samain.htm
http://www.taccuinistorici.it/ita/news/antica/
http://www.taccuinistorici.it/ita/news/moderna/feste-e-tradizioni/santi-e-morti-e-le-fave-nere.htmlusi—curiosita/Cibo-per-i-morti.html

http://www.joe-offer.com/folkinfo/songs/216.html
http://www.mayflowerchorus.org/pdf/A%20Soalin.pdf
http://www.hymnsandcarolsofchristmas.com/Hymns_and_Carols/hey_ho_nobody_home.htm
http://paulbommer.blogspot.it/2010/12/advent-calendar-22nd-mari-lwyd.html
http://www.museumwales.ac.uk/cy/279/

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