In the darkest and coldest time, joy and beauty shine brighter.

Awaiting First Snow from the Album “Winter”

Song History and Lyrics

Dressing the House

A seasons’ turning song to mark the transition from autumn to the first days of winter. From the Roman holiday of Saturnalia to dressing the churches in rural Briton our modern holiday, we continue to dress our houses for the holidays. I hope this might spark the fire for you this year. Wassail!

Dressing The House

Lyrics and Music by John Corbin Goldsberry

Step we on through the wheel of the year

through the Spring and the Summer gone-o

and now that the autumn has taken it’s bow

we gave it a rousing cheer-o

Now it’s time to arrange, to set the stage

to bless the new year in-o

so we’ll take to the town and make our rounds

to say that the seasons here-o

Through the fallow fields to the sunlit hills

and the woodlands crowned in misseltoe

We’ll stomp and sing tell the valleys ring

with our songs of winter Joy-o

Scrub the mantel , beat the rungs

and sweep the floors a clean-o

Out with the rushes and the herbs

that blessed the autumn time so

then it’s off to the woods to gather in

the pines and the holly green-o

to mark the winters turning time

and bless us all within so

Up we’ll pass on the chairs and ladders

boughs all tied in chains-o

to dress the beams and the windows cleaned

and the mantels all in green-o

We’ll pile the wood by the heath swept clean

and a fire blazing warm and bright

With our labors gone and the feast laid on

We’ll laugh into the night

A Matter of Heart

Jan vacillated over doing this song because she felt the time for fist pounding and preachy folk songs was behind her. I recorded it here not only to preserve her creativity in what I feel is a great tune but also because I see it not so much as preachy, but rather as reaching out in love to help someone see what they are missing.

A Matter of Heart

Lyrics and Music by Janice Goldsberry

So, there’s nothing I can do to make you change your mind

You say you’re saving yourself for a better place, your love for a better time

Yet all those things you’re waiting for may just not ever come

And you’re the loser in the end when all is said and done

Is there nothing I can do to ease the aching in your heart?

Waiting for your choice, your opportunity to start?

Yet you find the more you try the less you seem to win

When you give your life away is when your life begins

Everybody needs a wall that they can lean on

Yet were forever building walls that keep us apart

When will we learn that if we don’t grow, if we don’t grow together?

Livings not a matter of mind, it’s a matter of heart.

Slap your hands upon the table scold the injustices of war

It’s so easy to divide right and wrong when your safe behind your door

Do you see the hungry eyes and feel the emptiness of loss?

 Your stirring up rebellion when you never count the cost

A Robin in the Hedgerow

The Midwinter Fair, celebrating Yule, the  hibernal solstice, Meán Geimhridh, Montol, Christmas, or whatever you label it, came from the marking the winter solstice time, the darkest days of the year. with a celebration in the joy of the return of the light, the rebirth of the sun. In the “village” of Withe & Stone, it is a day of merriment and communal festivity, from the fair and feast to the roaring fire that blazes through the night. The British Robin has long symbolized the life in the midst of the cold, much like the evergreens. Here is my song to start a magical day.

A Robin in the Hedgerow

Lyrics and Music by John Corbin Goldsberry

The sun is rising or the hills

to illuminate the valley, still

the glint of diamond frost upon

the grass is where my eye is drawn

I don my boots and coat and hat

I stoke the fire and I pet the cat

Then it’s out the door

I venture like a traveler bold

In a cloud of breath, I fly away with the cold against my skin

with a wide embrace I face the day

It’s when the winter truly can begin

While all along the hedgerows

music rises all around

a flash of red amongst the twigs

that lines the road to town

and the merry whistle leads the dance

that lifts from the world of grey

as the robins bless the morning of this perfect frosty sunny winter day

The wren in answer to him sings

while the distant tower bells they ring

below the village softly lies

curling smoke from the chimneys rise

from cottage doors, the children run

to play amongst the morning sun

With tents and flags the merchants keen

assemble on the market green

The fires lit, the minstrels tune the celebration starts,

today’s the day that marks the turn of the season that is dear to all our hearts

So now is the time to take a chance

won’t you jump right in and join the dance

now you can let your spirit fly

like the robins taking to the sky

In a cloud of breath, you’ll fly away

with the cold against your skin

with a wind embrace to face the day

that’s when the winter truly can begin

Blessings and Wishes

I wrote this song for Jan during a difficult passage in our relationship. I present it here as a prayer for all to start the season of hope.

Blessings and Wishes

lyrics and melody by John Corbin Goldsberry

I wish you laughter I wish you light

I wish you stars on long dark nights

 I wish you music, dancing dreams

 Rolling thunder and tumbling streams. 

I wish you hope, I wish you joy

 Success in all your love employs

 I wish you friends on every side

 peace in your heart to be your guide

 I wish you blessings in all you do

 from all of us so blessed by you 

I wish you wings the to set you free

 from golden deserts to silver seas

I wish my wishes all come true

that every wish I wish for you

can change your sky from gray to blue

and in it you can shine

Awaiting First Snow

I wrote this song after, just days before her death, Jan called me to the window so we could share the winters first snow. She saw winter as a time of joy, rest, contemplation, and spiritual awakening. I played it for her, the last song we ever shared together and she said she found it lovely. I am now grateful for the chance to share it with you. I will forever see her in every first snow, for she has become all the beauty that she created in her time, for all time.

Awaiting First Snow

Music by John Corbin Goldsberry

Lanterns in the Forrest

Jan once posted a picture on her facebook page in the late fall showing a lantern burning in a snowy woodland with a joyous caption “It’ almost here!” That image burned in both our hearts and mind for a year before I wrote this. The idea came from a concept I had of an alternative history where Christianity never came to the British Isles.  How would the practices of then have evolved to the now? I reasoned that the idea of the hilltop fires of old would have migrated to the heart of each village and connecting them with lanterns through the countryside symbolized the connection between all communities. Everyone was welcome wherever the might be, led to warmth and comfort in the dark of the year by the light that connected us all.

Lanterns in the forest

Lyrics and Music by John Corbin Goldsberry

Beneath the sod the hedgehogs sleep Wrapped in dreams of green and warm

While overhead the branches bare stand open to the storm

While overhead the branches bare stand open to the storm

As rose of sunset fades away and clouds come slipping from afar

They spread their wings across the sky and cover up the stars

They spread their wings across the sky and cover up the stars

A snowy owl, without a sound to break the hush, he flies

The shadows grow and soon the snow starts falling from the sky

The snow comes down on empty nests, an artist paints in white

In sleeping caps, the cedars tipped to pass the winters night

Alone we walk down forest paths Where through all seasons we have roamed

But now it seems this time of dreams is when we’re heading home

But now it seems this time of dreams is when we’re heading home

Or frozen brooks at solstice time we wander ever through the night

Tell through the web of branches bare we glimpse a distant light

Tell through the web of branches bare we glimpse a distant light

A lantern blazing up ahead a pool of shining gold

That pulls me to a glowing path to this I can behold

That pulls me to a glowing path and guides me through the dark

This joyus line of lanterns in the Forest

Ahead a tower bright like fires of old once upon the hills we used to burn

Holding back the darkest time and calls the suns return

Holding back the darkest time and calls the suns return

Come all come all the beacon cries to all who fall within its sight

For sake off all this fire burns with all its warmth and light

For sake off all this fire burns with all its warmth and light

The lanterns in the forest all burn within our hearts

Dispels the darkness and the fear that keeps us all apart

There’s room for all around the fire there are no strangers here

We raise our voices loud and strong and clear

So, chanced in woodlands when you walk look for our light to home and cheer

and raise a cup and share our songs to cycle through the year

let’s raise a cup and share our songs to cycle through the year

I’ll Be Around

Another of Jan’s beautiful songs, that gives me comfort on long dark nights.

I’ll be Around

Music and Lyrics by Jan Goldsberry

Late at night I stand and watch by my window

Wondering what tomorrows going to bring

Ups and downs I had a few in my lifetime

Still and all this life’s a funny thing

Alone a lot I’ve had to learn to protect myself

So fearful of the hurt that love might bring

But there comes a time when you find you must

Take a chance and learn to trust

Tear down those walls

And finally let someone in

Help me carry the load when I’m feeling weary

Hold me in your arms when I’m feeling down

And If I ever act like I’m going crazy

Say that you’ll be around, and help me get my feet on the ground

Now I don’t know what the future may hold for me

I just know that I’ll always want you there

And I’ll be there whenever you need to lean on me

By now you know how much I really care

I’ll help you carry the load when you’re feeling weary

I’ll hold you in my arms when your felling down

And if you ever act like you’re going crazy

I’ll be around to help you get your feet on the ground

Midwinters Morning

This was my attempt to write a universal song that could apply to all of us without regard to the faith of the listener. It is my wish that all of you can feel the spirit of love this midwinter, that can stay with you through the darkness.

Midwinters morning

Lyrics and Music by John Corbin Goldsberry

At times it feels the worlds in darkness

And the suns a million miles away

Fear and pettiness surrounds us

Another one of endless days

Just know that this is all illusion

And doubt can weigh you down like stone

Reach out to all the souls around you

We may be apart, but were never be alone

There’s a spirit in the season

it guards you in the night

And lifts you to the morning light

The snow comes down midwinter’s morning

The cardinals dance amongst the trees

When The snow comes down midwinter’s morning

I’m just content to be.

When the snow comes down midwinter’s morning

Pine boughs clothed in robes of white

I watch the snow midwinters morning

And I know that I’m alright., that all the words alright

A mother sings and rocks her baby

A dear nestles against her foal

A lonely soul looks up and thinks maybe

Love shines down and already knows


The wind it whistles through the woodlands

The bells ring out across the town

The fields are lying fallow and the snow is drifting high

A rainbow flash of ice can catch your eye

A fire of pine and sassafras

A song of peace and love

For earth below and sky above.


Heap on the wood the wind is chill

But let it whistle as it will

Then laugh and sing and make good cheer

For each day comes but once my dears

And so, the seasons round they roll

Through summer sun and winters cold

Cast off your load of worldly cares

And dance like children if you dare.

Far Away

This is the first song of Jans’ we recorded back in 1990. It just felt appropriate that for the last time in presenting a joint album like this, that her voice be heard once more, and this somehow closes the circle. When we did this before I couldn’t sing harmony and play a different harmony part at the same time, so for the recording it was just her. She always regretted that choice, so now it is my chance to join her one last time with this new mix.

Far Away

Lyrics and Music by Janice Goldsberry

Far away, I hear the whistle blow

The train’s running through the valley down below

I thought one day that I might breakaway

But these old rollin’ mountains won’t let me go.

I’ve walked these hills since I was very young

I remember holding tight to mommas hand

She taught me how to find true happiness

first to love the Lord, then this land

Now so many years have gone and I tried to walk away

but I always knew that I’d come back someday

When I look into the past I begin to wonder why

I’d even try to leave this life

I always thought that I could find true happiness

all that I have dreamed from the start

and though I roamed this whole world over

here lies the love of my heart

A Joyful Heart

This, out of all of Jan’s songs was the most difficult to do. Both of us went through long periods of depression. I once put all my music aside for 7 years. Even though I knew logically it was wrong, depression is not logical. In this period Jan took out her guitar, wrote and practiced every day, with hopes that I would come back from my pit and join her again. She felt it coming herself and wrote this song in her fear that all the joy and the dreams she had of us sharing our creativity was going away. Soon after she put her guitar away and stopped writing. Eventually, I did come back, but the damage was done. She battled her own depression for years, and it led to the health conditions that finally took her. Towards the end, we both came to terms with life and found our happiness again. We started singing again, and dusted off the old songs and planed out three albums. But she never wrote another song, and this one was too close to home to go back to. After she passed it pained me to see it unfinished, scribbled out verses on random notepad pages. I assembled them, wrote a bit to connect them, and with great joy, remembered the melody she wrote. This had to be our last song together, the most painful, but the most important. There is such hope in these words, and to any of you in the throughs of depression, know that you are not alone and that the answer is within you. Find the light, find your child who will know what to do.

A Joyful Heart

Lyrics and Music by Janice Goldsberry

See the children laughing and playing

Hear them sing, see them dancing for joy

Where does the joy and the laughter come from

Where does the dance have its start?

In a Joyful heart

Why do you weep, why are you morning?

So, your heart is weary and torn

Gone is the joy, your heart has been silenced

Heavy the feet of your heart

Sad and heavy your heart

Simple the things that make our hearts merry

Simple the dreams of a child

Infinite spaces exist in their vision

Feeding the joy in their hearts

Their drinking in joy from there hearts

See the children laughing and playing

Hear them sing, see them dancing for joy

They see only brightness as worth their attention

Filling their world with its light

Come witness this beautiful site.

So, cast off the world that has shackled your dreams

Break free of the prison of doubt

Throw open the shutters that blind you from light

Dance with a loved one, laugh with a child

Reclaim the joy in your heart

Requiem (64 bells, Winter, To Know the Lands of Summer)

Finally, my tribute to the brightest light in my world, my best friend, and the deepest most complex person I have ever had the chance to know. She was a mystic, a philosopher, an artist, a mother, a wife, a poet, and my love.

It  was  the  practice  in  the  parish  church  days  to,  upon  the  death  of  a soul,  to  ring  the  church  bells  once  for  each  year  of  their  life.  I  joined  them  with a  music  box-like  tune  played  on  her  little  Dulcetta, which has not been played since she had a stroke a couple of years ago and could no longer do so. Her hammers, her Dulcimer, it seemed right.

The second movement is a poem called Winter that I composed for her both to highlight her love of all seasons, and her embrace of the cold and dark as equals, and the symbolism in the cycles of our own existence, and our journey on to wherever our energy goes when it ceases to animate these forms.

Third movement: …and according to the old faith, that place is the Land of Eternal Summer, where she now dwells, and I will join her in my time, to sit by the fire in the little pub on the green, hold her hand, and laugh with her once more over a cold pint of cider.


Words by John Corbin Goldsberry

To rest, to dream of coming spring

Of crocus, snowdrops and bluebells

Of small uncurling fiddleheads

Of redbuds then of dogwoods

While all is gray, and ground is stone

And ice and snow lay settled

Bare branches whistle with each wind

A soft and lonely chorus

They sing of summer in their hearts

Of birds and squirrels and leafy boughs

Of bright blue skies and golden sun

And dappled light on loamy earth

Drink within the scent of joy

And dry the tears of unkind doubt

Embrace the lesson of the earth

And take the loving hand of Winter

Though you may miss the green and bright

Blue skies and pristine clouds of white

Look deep within your sorrowed heart

And see beyond illusion

Fear not, cry not, hide not from this

Cold season of the cycle

All must rest to wake once more

To know the lands of summer