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Ten Thousand Miles Away

I enjoyed recording and posting daily folk songs here during September so I decided to leave my ‘studio’ set up and keep learning, recording and posting songs as and when I have time.

I’m really enjoying singing unaccompanied folk songs but one of the things that does get missed are the harmonies so, with the wonders of technology, I decided to play around with adding some this time.


Lyrics: From memory
Takes: multiple (obviously!)

Download: Ten Thousand Miles Away

Story for school assembly – Judas Iscariot

I go into one of our local schools on Wednesdays to lead Collective Worship (aka assemblies!), and at the moment we are looking at Jesus’ friends.  This week it is the turn of Judas Iscariot and, perhaps unsurprisingly, it is really quite difficult to find good stories to read about Judas so rather than spend hours in fruitless searching I thought I’d just channel my inner Bob Hartman and write my own!

In  the ‘refrain’ when I say “Judas made a mistake”, the children will shout “Oh no!”.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Judas made a mistake Oh no!
Judas made a big mistake

He had been travelling with Jesus for 3 long years and for 3 long years he had watched as Jesus had spent time with people who were poor, and homeless, and sick, instead of people who were rich and powerful and important.

Judas made a mistake Oh no!
Judas made a big mistake

Because he got fed up of waiting. Jesus was his friend but he wanted more important friends. Friends who were rich and powerful. Friends like the Pharisees.

Judas made a mistake Oh no!
Judas made a big mistake

He knew that the Pharisees didn’t like Jesus, but he went to talk to them anyway. They told him that they’d give him lots of money if he told them where they could find Jesus.

Judas made a mistake Oh no!
Judas made a big mistake

Because that evening, after he’d had dinner with Jesus and his friends and found out where they were going later he slipped out of the room and went to find the Pharisees.

Judas made a mistake Oh no!
Judas made a big mistake

The Pharisees gave him a big bag of money and Judas led them to the garden where Jesus and his friends were sitting. Judas greeted Jesus with a kiss but then he watched in horror as the Pharisees arrested Jesus!

Judas had made a mistake Oh no!
Judas had made a big mistake

He hadn’t meant for his friend to be arrested but it was too late now. Too late to stop it, the Pharisees had already taken Jesus off to prison. He tried to give them the money back, he tried to undo the damage but it was too late.

Judas had made a mistake Oh no!
Judas had made a big mistake

But that wasn’t his biggest mistake. Because Judas couldn’t see how Jesus, his friend, could ever forgive him. And so he never asked, he never said sorry.

But if he had asked, if he had said sorry, Jesus would have forgiven him, just like he forgave his other friends who ran away in fear when Jesus was arrested, just like he forgave Peter who told people that he didn’t even know Jesus because he was scared they’d arrest him too.

Judas made a mistake Oh no!
Judas made a big mistake

Judas didn’t think his friend would forgive him and because of that he is known as “Judas the traitor” when he could have been known as “Judas the forgiven”.



We thank you Jesus that you are our friend, and that when we make mistakes we can always say sorry and you will always forgive us.

Help us to say sorry to our friends when we make mistakes and to forgive them when they let us down.


#SeptemberSongs Day 30 – the Greenland whale fishery

We’ve made it to the end of the month – huzzah! Another sea song to finish and an interesting one at that.

There are variations of this song dating back to the early 18th century. This version must be from at least the late Victorian era and possibly more recent. It is ‘set’ in 1864, the main problem with this being that they stopped fishing for whales around Greenland in the 1830s!

The Victorians also had a tendency to swap the penultimate verse around so that the captain was more upset at losing his men than losing the whale. Somehow I think the old way is more authentic!

So, for the last time (for this month at least…), enjoy!

Lyrics: from memory
Takes: 3

Download: 30 The Greenland whale fishery

#SeptemberSongs Day 29 – Rigs of the times

another great song this. I learned it from Bellowhead’s simply spectacular version on their ‘Burlesque’ CD.

‘Rigs’ in this song means cheats or lies and the song talks about some of the dishonest practices going on at the time (more info).

The only problem is that the ‘Rigs of the times’ in the song are not really relevant any more so, as well as the original, I’ve recorded an updated version with some new takes on those old problems.


Lyrics: from memory
Takes: 1 each

Old version:

Download: 29 Rigs of the times (old)

New version:

Download: 29 Rigs of the times (new)


Those industrial bakers I must bring them in
Pack their bread full of chemicals and think it no sin
“Baked fresh on the premises”, that’s what they say
when it was made in a factory hours away
Honesty’s all out of fashion
These are the rigs of the times, times my boys
These are the rigs of the times.

Those big supermarkets I must bring them in
Selling horse meat as beef and they’ll think it no sin
Fill their bacon with water, their sausages with rind
If it makes them more money they really don’t mind
Honesty’s all out of fashion…

Here’s to the ad-men who sell us their lies
And to the loan sharks who gather like flies
if their profits get bigger they really don’t care
It’s no wonder we’ve reason to curse and to swear
Honesty’s all out of fashion…

The simplest solution the people could find
Was to scoop them all up in a strong gale of wind
And the winds they will blow and the clouds they will burst
And the biggest old rascal come tumbling down first
Honesty’s all out of fashion…

An open letter to my MEPs

Dear Anthea McIntyre, Jill Seymour, James Carver, Bill Etheridge, Philip Bradbourn, Neena Gill and Siôn Simon,

I am writing to you about the proposed appointment of Karmenu Vella as the Commissioner for the Environment, Maritime affairs and fisheries, the hearing for which is tomorrow, Monday 29th.

I am extremely concerned about Mr Vella’s suitability for the post given his role in the Maltese government with its appalling track record of failing to meet its environmental legislation responsibility.

One very serious concern is their refusal to implement the EU birds directive and to crack down on illegal hunting of migrating birds, which is having a devastating impact on population numbers for many species.

Given his strong ties to the Maltese government I remain unconvinced that Mr Vella will be able to set aside these vested national interests and act impartially as environment commissioner.

I would strongly urge you to take these issues into consideration and unless you are completely satisfied that Mr Vella will indeed act to defend and strengthen existing environmental legislation then please vote to reject his nomination

Yours sincerely,

Reverend Richard Clarkson

More details and information in how to contact your MEP at

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~


I recieved a very encouraging response this morning from Siôn Simon, a Labour MEP, which is copied below:

Dear Richard,
Thank you for your email regarding the nomination of Karmenu Vella as Commissioner-designate for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries.
I, along with my MEP colleagues from the Socialist & Democrats group, share your concerns about the practice of bird hunting in Malta and can assure you that this issue will be raised by our group in the scrutiny hearing this afternoon that will take place in the European Parliament’s Environment committee with Mr Vella.
The EU, although falling short of where it should be, is a world-leader when it comes to environmental and wildlife protection. It would be very short-sighted if the proposed Commission were to row back on some of the protections in place.
We will use the forthcoming hearings of the Commissioners-Designate to put these concerns directly to them and to ensure that the new Commission upholds European environmental and wildlife protections and, furthermore, that it works to strengthen them and to build a proper transition to sustainable growth.
However, if confirmed as Commissioner, Mr Vella will not be representing the interests of Malta as the European Commission represents the interests of Europe as a whole (as opposed to the interests of individual countries). I, along with S&D colleagues, will use today’s hearing to ensure that the principle of independence is respected.
Yours sincerely,
Siôn Simon
Labour Member of the European Parliament for the West Midlands


#SeptemberSongs Day 28 – The first nöel

Ok so I know this is a Christmas song but it’s SO good to this tune!  The tune is from the song ‘young banker’

I got this version from Jon Boden and arranged it for my college choir last Christmas.  It’s so much fun I couldn’t let this project go by without doing it.


Lyrics: from memory 
Takes: 1 (yes I know it should be ‘bought’ not ‘brought’ in the last verse but still…)

Download: 28 The first noel

#SeptemberSongs Day 27 – John Barleycorn

Last September I did a similar project on this blog, writing a post each day about all things bread for #SourdoughSeptember.  One of the things I’d hoped to do there but didn’t manage is blog a couple of bready folk songs and today’s song is one that I’d thought I might do.

I’ve spent much of the last year singing fragments of this song but had never got round to properly learning it until now. It’s another old old song with countless variations (more info) but the essence of the story is the death and, despite the efforts of the various farm workers, resurrection of ‘John Barleycorn’.


Lyrics: from memory
Takes: 2

Download: 27 John Barleycorn


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