Monthly Archives: January 2009

Scottish Hymn Tunes

The super-sweet Catholic Gaelic hymnal is Fr. Allan MacDonald’s classic collection from 1893. But unfortunately, there’s no music in it because the islanders all knew the tunes.

Here’s The Sacred Songs of the Gael, an old book of hymns in Gaelic (the Scottish kind). They’re Presbyterian or Church of Scotland or something like that. Anyway, the thing of interest is that the book provides the tunes, with harmony. I don’t know if that’s the real harmony or something made up by the book publisher, but at any rate it’s the real tunes. Lots for folks to steal. 🙂

A lot of Irish Christmas albums nab some Scottish carols:

“Taladh Chriosta” aka “The Christ-Child’s Lullaby” is from the Hebrides. It was written by Fr. Ronald Rankin, before he went off to Australia in 1855. It’s something like 27 verses long.

“Leanabh an Aigh” (Child of Wonder) has a tune better known in connection with “Morning Is Broken”. Also has about five zillion verses.

Lots more Scottish Gaelic Christmas songs on this page.

“Ny Kirree Fo Naghtey” (The Sheep Beneath the Snow) is a good tune from the Isle of Man, but it’s not actually a Christmas carol. Here are the original lyrics and a translation. It’s actually the horrendous story of how almost all a man’s flocks were killed by snow and cold. (Wow, I wish I hadn’t found that out.)

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Two Famous Irish Catholic Hymnwriters

Dr. Luke Waddinge, Bishop of Ferns, wrote A Smale Garland of Pious and Godly Songs.

Later on, Fr. William Devereaux wrote his own collection of pious songs, A New Garland, Containing Songs for Christmas.

PDFs of the books, and articles on the Kilmore Carol tradition, also known as the Wexford Carols.

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Irish Hymn Tunes?

Thanks to the English penal laws, totally silent Masses held in secret to escape persecution, the dying out of the harpers and indigenous Irish “classical” music, the Famine, immigration, and a bunch of other stuff, there isn’t as big a supply of traditional Irish hymn tunes as there are from Welsh, Scottish, or other nationalities.

Part of the lack of supply was met, back in the day, by lyrics being set to any folk tune that happened to be sitting around. But while this worked fine for less sacred music, a lot of people back then also thought it was tacky. I mean, one minute you’re singing about doing stuff to your girlfriend, and the next you’re singing to the same tune about God? Not great….

Sometimes, you find a few, though. Christmas albums seem to be a prime place to look. The problem, of course, is that Christmas rather clings to Christmas carol tunes. But if we’re not Irish Irish and these carols and hymns aren’t familiar to us, that shouldn’t be a problem.

“Leanbh Ghil Mhilis” (Sweet Bright Child) is a very dignified slow air. For non-Irish audiences, it would probably work fine with different hymn lyrics. Here’s the lyrics and translation of the original.

“Do’n Oiche ud i mBeithil” (That Night in Bethlehem) is more of a ballad tune (the telling a story kind).

“Rug Muire Mac Do Dhia” (Mary Bore the Son of God) is more march-like.


“Ag Chriost an Siol”: The lyrics are traditional. The hymn tune is by Sean O’Riada.

“Gabhaim Molta Brighde” (I Praise St. Brigid): A sturdy plain tune. You could stick lots of different words to this one.

“A Mhuire na nGras” (O Mary of Graces): Pretty tune. The rhyming English translation is by Douglas Hyde.

“Deus Meus Adiuva Me”: The lyrics were written by Maol-Iosa O Brolchain way back. Music: Trad.

“Dochas Linn, Naomh Padraig” (Bring Us Help, St Patrick): Lyrics by Tomas O Flannghaile. Music: Trad. A very stately marching hymn tune.

“Mo Ghrasa, Mo Dhia” is to a traditional tune.

The thing is, I’m sure there’s tons of good hymn tunes from Ireland. I just don’t know them. 😦

UPDATE: There is a book of Irish hymns in Irish, published in 1928. It’s called Danta De: Hymns Ancient and Modern (aka Danta De: Idir Sean agus Nuad). It was collected together by Una Ni Ogain, and includes organ accompaniments for NINETY (90!) Irish religious songs. In Irish.

Well, there’s no closer library copy than Notre Dame. So I may actually have to hit the rare books beat and drop actual money. Sigh. Oh, well, it’s all for a good cause.

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Catholic Folk Music from Brittany!

I’ve always enjoyed Breton music, when I’ve gotten a chance to hear it. The people of Brittany are descended from Welsh/Britons who fled to Brittany to escape the Saxons. They’ve been Christian since the days when the Britons were still paying taxes to the Roman Empire, so it’s not surprising that their folk music includes a lot of folk religious tunes.

This part of the Chansons Bretonnes site is all about Kantikou (Cantiques/Canticles). The first one is to the Welsh tune “Ar Hyd a Nos”, but the others all seem to be Breton songs with extremely Catholic words. There are four musical settings of the Angelus, for example.

If you click on the names of the songs, you’ll go to a page with a musical score, and with the words in Breton and French. Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be any midi or mp3 stuff, but you may be able to find mp3s elsewhere on the Web or even song videos on video sites.

Here’s another Breton/French site, which gives you Noteworthy Composer files. Which is sorta like midi, except more proprietary. Oh, well, it’s free.

On, there’s some kind of folk hymnal for the Quimper diocese in Brittany, from 1842! Cool, eh? It seems to be aimed at encouraging clergy in Brittany to learn Breton if they don’t know it, to be proud of Breton if they do speak it, and to join in the popular devotions and songs of their people instead of getting nervous about them because they don’t understand them or think they’re too old-fashioned. There’s also a glossary of words used in Breton hymns. Finally, the bulk of the book provides hymns in the context of the various common ceremonies, processionals, etc., that a priest might be expected to preside over in the diocese of Quimper. (Or Kemper, in Breton.)

This is pretty incredible and heady stuff. I don’t think I’ve ever heard of such a folk hymnal/missal for clergy before, and especially not from the 1840’s.

Fittingly, it would seem that the Quimper/Kemper diocese is still determined to support Breton sacred music! Check out their website…. 🙂 If you listen to the soundfiles, you’ll notice that the cantors and choirs stick with a Breton folk style. Very prettily done, and it has a fair amount of properly worshipful solemnity and dignity. (Of course the Bretons are as big on choirs as their Welsh cousins are.)

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I’d Watch This….

A mini-fic of interest.

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LeMonjello IS a Real Name! So Is Orangejello!

There’s a famous apocryphal name story that goes around, that some woman named her kids Lemonjello and Orangejello. Heh.

Ah, but apparently that’s just the way we Anglos hear it. Monjelo or Monjolo is the actual Spanish surname name, which gets accessorized into LeMonjelo. There are Monjelo Islands in Uruguay, for instance, and a place called Monjolo in Madeira. I won’t hazard a derivation, because Spanish placename stuff can be very hard to guess (I blame the Visigoths); but it’s probably Mt. Something. Here’s a young gentleman named LeMonjelo Spinks.

This placename possibly led to some similar Italian surnames, mostly from the Milan area: Limongello and Lemangelo (rare); Mongello, Mongiello, Mangello, and Mongelli (not too uncommon), and the clan of the seventies Italian-American singer Peter Lemongello, who appeared in The Godfather and ran a national TV ad campaign to sell his records, becoming the first singer to sell a million records on TV. “Li” is another particle here, I suspect, as in “licorne” — the horn, aka “unicorn”.

As for the other, it’s not Orangejello at all. It’s spelled Horangelo or Orangelo, meaning “Hour of the Angelus”! (The Angelus is a Catholic prayer which is said three times a day.) It’s a rare Italian name as well as a Hispanic one, and probably was originally given to babies who popped out while the Angelus bell was ringing and everyone was praying — drama, no? Right now, there’s some kind of Venezuelan soccer player running around named Horangelo Varela, for example, and there was a 1930’s Italian guy named Horangelo Petruccio over in New Jersey.

In your face, Snopes!!

So to sum up: These could be and are Hispanic names. But it’s most plausible to think that an Italian family might name their kids Lemongello or Orangelo (avoiding the Hor- of the original spelling, for perfectly obvious reasons). Orangelo might also have come into black families through ancestors or acquaintances from the Caribbean or Hispanic countries. Anyway, there’s nothing to mock in these perfectly good names.

Whether or not those names were ever given together by any family is beyond the bounds of this study, but they are definitely real names. But it’s possible that, even if the original story of both names together was apocryphal, that people might have been inspired to name their kids both names by the story!

Search of the US Social Security Death Index:
43 people with the last name Lemongello.
22 people with the last name Limongello.
3 people with the first name Orangelo.
Nobody dead yet named Horangelo. 🙂

UPDATE: Well, pooh. I have just been duplicating this fellow’s work.

UPDATE: I have added “Limongello” references, thanks to Mike in the combox. Also, the anime Vandread apparently has a character named Barnette Orangelo. She’s the green-haired one. Also, etymology of “Mongello” from

UPDATE: “Limoncello” is apparently a surname as well as a drink. Who knew? So now we have another data point, thanks to the wonderful combox folks! There are five Limoncello family members in the Chicago area, and an Illinois officer from WWII, buried in Manila, who also bore that name. Some of the other surname spellings we’ve found may derive from this name. But the Italian-Americans spelling their last names “Limongello” and “Lemongello” vastly outnumber the “Limoncello” clan, almost a hundred to one. That’s just the way it goes when surnames hit America. 🙂


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Time for Another Early Night

Last night and this morning was eaten up by Bad Sinus Pain. After the weather front passed, I had huge amounts of work to do all day. I got a lot done, but frankly, I’m beat. I hope I’ll feel better tomorrow morning.

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