Friday, October 17, 2008


It was a subdued group at Group Lesson last night.

Sande was putting out fires, and didn't attend
Lee was being charitable or preaching to the masses, I don't know which.
Jason was recovering from a flu-like thing, but he did show up.
Pete had had a 19-hour day, it looked like. At any rate, it was a long week.
John got his braces off and was still getting used to his new teeth.

And then there was me, also at the end of a 19-hour day, and still adjusting to a Sandy Nelson-less life.

We got a new tune, to help us all feel better (except for John, who we had to scrape off the ceiling). It's called Cullen Bay. I've heard this tune before. I thought it was a jingle, and while Jason was getting copies of it, Pete and I sang through various commercials to see if I could pin it down, and then because it was funny. But we didn't figure out where I had heard it before.

On the way home it struck me: third grade, Immaculate Conception School, Cedar Rapids, Iowa, 1967. The nuns taught us a song called (I think) the Bell Ringer. It follows pretty much the same melody as the first part of Cullen Bay.

High in the steeple hangs the bell.
Old Father Simon rings it well.
Ding-dong-ding, every day, every hour.
Ding-dong-ding comes the bell from the tower.
Clang overhead calls to bed.

It's good to get that figured out.

Small Son got a compliment from his instructor (Sean again). He has mastered the birl, a 4-note grace . . . uh, note. A four-note set of grace notes. Sean said he's making good progress. He is, now that Sean is teaching him. He's on the verge of learning tunes. Just a couple more grace note combos and he can start. He's chomping at the bit to learn a tune.

5 comments:

Mary Frances said...

I looked all afternoon for that very same song, except that I alreay knew it from fifth grade in the sixties. I sang it to my kids and grandkids and want to put it on a cd to sell at a craft fair, except I can't find any info about copyrights or public domain. Love that song and love that someone else remembers it!!

Wadria Bolivar said...

Second verse:

Old Father Simon's gray and worn
Old Father Simon's gown is torn
Ding dong ding if he vanished away
Ding dong ding we would romp all the day
Clang overhead calls to bed

Rose said...

Thanks for the second verse, and I'm glad somebody else remembers it besides me.

Wadria Bolivar said...

Maybe it's obvious, but this song is a round. That's how we sang it in my parochial school in 1967. (i.e. Voice 1 sings "High in the steeple hangs the bell" alone, then continues to the second line "Old Father Simon rings it well," but as Voice 1 begins that second line, Voice 2 sings the first line at the same time ("High in the steeple hangs the bell.) Because this is the first reference I've ever seen online for this song, I think that someone in the Catholic church was probably given the task of writing little songs to be sung in the Catholic schools, and in this case, probably borrowing (as you say) the tune from Cullen Bay. A catchy tune, especially sung in round!

Rose said...

We sang it in a round in third grade, too! It's amazing how many tunes I remember, just because they rhymed and we're set to a tune. Excellent teaching tools, poetry and music.