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Percy Grainger - "The Sussex Mummers' Christmas Carol"

The Sussex Mummers’ Christmas Carol

Percy Grainger

Percy Grainger

Born: July 8, 1882, Melbourne, Australia

Died: February 20, 1961, White Plains, New York

Original Instrumentation: Folk Song, Piano

Composed: 1905-1911

Arranged: 1963, Richard Franko Goldman

Duration: 4 minutes

University of Maryland Wind Ensemble

"Carmina Burana"

Elsie & Marvin Dekelboum Concert Hall

Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center

The University of Maryland at College Park

From Percy Grainger’s original notes on his piano edition of 1911:

By kind permission of Miss Lucy E. Broadwood. Begun 1905, ended 1911. The tune was noted by Miss Lucy E. Broadwood at Lyne, near Horsham (Sussex), in 1880 and 1881 from the singing of Christmas Mummers called 'Tipteers' or 'Tipteerers' during their play of 'St. George, the Turk, and the seven champions of Christendom'. See English Traditional Songs and Carols (Boosey & Co.) by Lucy E. Broadwood, pp. 80 and 122, and Journal of the Folk-Song Society, vol. ii, No. 7, p. 128.

The words sung to the Carol contain, among others, the following verses (which may be used in programs, at will):

O mortal man, remember well When Christ our Lord was born; He was crucified betwixt two thieves, And crownèd with the thorn. O mortal man, remember well When Christ died on the rood; It was for we and our wickedness Christ shed His precious blood. God bless the mistress of this house With a gold chain round her breast; It's whether she sleeps, or whether she wakes, Lord send her soul to rest. God bless the master of this house With happiness beside; It's whether he walks, or whether he rides, Lord Jesus be his guide. God bless your house, your children too, Your cattle and your store; The Lord increase you day by day, And send you more and more.


Percy Grainger was born in Melbourne, Australia, in 1882, leaving in 1895 to study piano in Frankfurt, Germany. He made a career as a touring pianist in the British Isles, while at the same time collecting folk songs from the British and Irish countryside. He emigrated to the United States at the outset of World War I, and enlisted in the United States Army as a bandsman, playing saxophone. After the war, Grainger eventually settled in White Plains, New York. Despite being born in Australia and living in the United States, he was a fierce nationalist and incredibly interested in the aforementioned folk music of the British Isles. His many compositions and arrangements of folk music sought to introduce these folk idioms into the concert hall.

Additional Grainger Resources:

- The biography, Percy Grainger, by John Bird, includes a much more in-depth look at Grainger's remarkable life (and personality).

Percy Grainger Plays Percy Grainger: The Sussex Mummers' Christmas Carol

Sussex Mummers' Carol, Christmas Revels

Percy Grainger, The Sussex Mummers' Christmas Carol, arr. Richard Franko Goldman

The University of North Texas Wind Symphony, Eugene Corporon, conductor

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