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3 Songs

Andrew McDonnell

extracts from the  The Voice Project Choir‘s Singing the City, a Writers’ Centre Norwich co-commission with the Norfolk and Norwich Festival, 2012

The French Weavers’ Lullaby

Dormir, dormir, petite enfant,
Petite enfant, dormir
Dormer, dormir, petite enfant,
Petite enfant, dormir

The cattle out on the marshes low
As the night settles in
We climb into our little boat
Set sail for a new morning


The elm tree whispers softly to you
Sleep in my arms safe and sound
That old tree knows what to do
To return you back to the ground


fire sweeps the city tonight
It glows on the edge of your sleep
All the birds have taken to flight
While pales from the well all weep.



Gathered Round the Parish Pump

Brom’s tracking stars to improve his humours
Peter’s spending time bloodletting with the leeches
Oscar’s down the barbers for a spot of trepanning
Margo’s swimming in the river to cure her impetigo

Pull the bucket up boys!
Pull it up to hide me so!

Mary’s under blankets fighting off the ague
John’s taken off a lump with a sacred bit of flint
Joan’s smeared in pigeon dung and honey for her kidney stones
Kelvin has a weeping sore tickled by the sage

Pull the bucket up boys!
Pull it up to hide me so!

Bridie holds a candle close to her tooth
Alice has a cross shaved into her hair
Robin has a pin going in for the cataract
Poor old crying Thomas is tethered to a pew

Pull the bucket up boys!
Pull it up to hide me so!

Pull the bucket up boys!
Pull it up and hide me so!


Whisper Game for an Alleyway
to be spoken by a large group with laughter, whistles, echoes,
squeals and a mix of quieter and louder parts as the individuals see fit.

Come back. Follow follow follow        fall
back follow. In the light rain, in the light
rain.                  Fall back. Fall back. Seven
years of floating back to the heart of it. In
the light rain I will fall back.    Suddenly this
light seems to ask me   sudden and sad
stared. Lucie Rie came down to see me at
the little jetty. Lucy ran to palmers street
and fell in with the city.                            The
river ran down the street and ran the
children blind. Come back, come back.
Follow follow follow. Let’s slow dance in
the light rain. Harriet says the captain’s sick,
the hill is awash with pain.  See ship follow
ship worship me in the rain, in the lightest
rain.      Can you hear the cats mewing in the
merchants hall? Can you pop over to
Muspole street and talk to the pool? Can
you follow me back through the streets?
Alvo with the night sweats       Alvo in the
hall. Alvo wants the weasel, follow follow
_____Target see target, pull the tiger’s tail
Take the tart to the tar and tie her little
tallow. Follow follow follow.    The rivers
buried deep, deep beneath our feet.
Cuckoo spit and cow parsley
The seconds raise their heads again
See you leave it long enough
And all changes anyway.         Pies, pies,
pies and beer.     In the light rain.
In the light rain. Dig boys dig. The
river’s buried deep.           Fall back. Follow
me.        The captain’s sick. Sad captain sea
sick sad. It’s not gonna go away. The tallow
weasel spins.  See that you leave it long
enough.              Leave it long enough.
___________Follow follow
___________Follow follow
___________Follow follow me.

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