The Mirthful Heart

SSA, hand drum

Every year at Christmas, I write a new carol and send it as a card. And I try to find a poem to say the perfect thing to friends and family. But 2012 was a year which, for the US, brought devastating disasters and tragic shootings. I also lost three influential women in my life: my grandmother, great-aunt, and godmother.
But, even in a dreary world, this poem inspires me to believe that it's possible -- if indeed also absurd -- to keep a "mirthful heart." And to keep going through it all, just like they taught me.
So "noel noel noel" a minor key... for a trio of strong, lusty ladies.


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Order Sheet Music
Catalog Number: 
Publishing Series: 
The New Burt Family Carols
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The MPR Carolers
Text Author or Source: 
Grace Fallow Norton (1914)

Without, a city's whirling dust,
A city's alley-wall;
Without, a bleak, pale strip of sky.
Within, high festival.

Without, no greeting on the street,
From the hurrying crowd no smile.
Within, my heart's bold pageant moves
In glorious solemn file.

Noel, noel, noel, noel...

There was no call for revel. Day,
Who summons us each morn,
Came forth in dreariest garb and blew
No gala herald-horn.

But slave of day I am not -- nay,
Her mistress still, I wield
The crystal sceptre of my mood,
Bearing my dream's white shield.

Exultant, rapture-flooded, mad
With mystic inner mirth,
My heart holds her strange carnival
Unseen of all the earth.

Noel, noel, noel, noel...

Adapted by the composer from "Heart's Holiday" by Grace Fallow Norton. (From Poetry: A Magazine of Verse. January 1914.) The poem is in the public domain and may be reprinted from this webpage with proper attribution to the author(s).