David Welch
Hark the Glad Sound in Castleton Cavern
Fri Dec 8, 2017 9:29pm

Carol singing in the Derbyshire village of Castleton has had a long history of documentation. Even Vaughan Williams visited.

In Ian Russell`s text, The Bells of Paradise (1990) there`s a reference of 1772 to the miners singing in the mine cavern for money.

But what I hadn`t connected with until this Christmas is that Archibald Grant of Monymusk inherited the mines through his marriage in 1727 to Anne Potts daughter of the previous Castleton owner. Grant was the great reviver of Scottish church music, speeding it up, having regular 3 and 4-part singing, and pushing the "Scottish Paraphrases", first issued widely in 1745.

These Scottish Paraphrases had a Christmas hymn "Hark the glad sound" that became widespread in England, and strikingly Castleton seems to be the only area in Derbyshire and Yorkshire where these words (Htgs, the Saviour comes) are married to the tune Old Foster. But it`s called Prince of Orange in Castleton.

There`s much on the history of the Castleton carols in the 1990 booklet - even the organist of Derby Cathedral had a go at improving the music - but nothing on what the miners were singing in the C18, or Archibald Grant`s impact.

If anyone knows of more recent research, or knows what carols and tunes are being sung in the Cavern next week (if the events aren`t sold out), I would be glad to know.

    • papers on Castleton
      David Welch, Wed Dec 13 1:47pm
      Just an extra comment that there`s a mass of accounts, letters, papers, about Castleton mines and the Potts family 1720-1740s held in NRS Edinburgh in the Grant of Monymusk papers. Just possibly... more
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