Wheel of the Year

  • Instruments: Two Flutes, ‘Cello, Piano, Hand Drum, and Singing Bowl in C.
  • Duration: 18 – 20 minutes
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • WheeloftheYear PDF

Selected performances

  • Yule from Wheel of the Year, Timberlake High School Choir, Idaho, USA, scheduled performance 7 December, 2011.

  • Excerpts from the Wheel of the Year, Cortland Community Chorus, New York, USA, November, 2011.

  • Excerpts from the Wheel of the Year, Cortland Community Chorus, New York, USA, November, 2011.

  • The Wheel of the Year (entire cycle), RMIT Occasional Choral Society and LaTrobe University Choral Society, Melbourne, Australia, 21 October, 2011.

  • Excerpts from the Wheel of the Year, Renaissance Singers, Hamilton, New Zealand, 14 August, 2011.

  • Mabon from the Wheel of the Year, Recorded and released on CD, Grupo Talliesin, Brazil, 2011.

  • Yule from Wheel of the Year, Recorded and released on CD, Grupo Talliesin, Brazil, 2011.

  • Excerpts from the Wheel of the Year, Grupo Taliesin, Brazil (see Youtube), 2010.

  • Excerpts from the Wheel of the Year, Grupo Taliesin, Brazil (become part of standard repertoire), 2010.

  • Excerpts from the Wheel of the Year, The Glastonberries, UK, 2009.

  • Excerpts from the Wheel of the Year, instrumental, RMIT music and band, Australia, 2009.

  • Excerpts from the Wheel of the Year, RMIT Occasional Choral Society, Melbourne, Australia (several movements are added to choir songbook and standard repertoire), 2009.

  • Excerpts from the Wheel of the Year, Illinois Valley Singers, Oregon, USA, 2008.

  • Excerpts from the Wheel of the Year, RMIT Occasional Choral Society, Melbourne, Australia, 2008.

  • Wheel of the Year premiere, RMIT Occasional Choral Society, Melbourne, Australia, 2004.

Wheel of the Year: Original Lyrics

1. Casting the Circle
No Lyrics

2. Samhain
Eucalyptus, rosemary,
Burning brightly for remembrance:
Burning bright for purity
On this night when we remember…

Once again, Shadow’s Eve.
Light the candle at the window.
Set a light to guide them home
Through the darkness of the night.

Contemplate our visions,
Dreaming of times long gone:
Dreaming of our loved ones
Who have passed across our lives…

Eucalyptus, rosemary,
Burning brightly for remembrance
Burning bright for purity
On this night when we recall.

3. Yule
Cold snow,
Icy the winds that blow
Cold, blow, in the dark of night.

Cold snow, icy the winds that blow
Cold, blow in the dark of night.

Icy cold wind blow, freezing winter snow
Yuletide is come!
Feel the icy breath, bitter cold of death
Yuletide is come!

Cold winter wind blowing icily.
Coldest, longest of nights.
Coldest, darkest of nights.

Drifting snowflakes on the air, blowing icily.
Twirling snowflakes on the air:
Wintertime at Yule.

4. Imbolc
No Lyrics

5. Ostara
Ostara (repeated)

All hail Ostara when all life is reborn
Honouring new life on Ostara morn

All hail Ostara as the sun rises in the morn
from the freezing biting cold of winter
all hail the day
all hail the light

Life rising
Life growing
Weaving life

Rising, lighting, growing, all hail the light

Ostara (repeated)
Ostara!

6. Beltane
Brightly the fires at Beltane burn
Rise, as the dusklight is fading
And we will dance, as we sing this song
Sing to the Lord and the Lady.

7. Midsummer
Lyrics are from Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream Act II, Scene I, with the exception of bracketed text (original work).
(Ding dong ding dong, midnight rising)
(Ding dong ding dong, chimes are striking)
Over hill, over dale, (Shadowy trees)
Thorough bush, thorough brier, (Whispering winds)
Over park, over pale, (Evening breeze)
Thorough flood, thorough fire, (Call Fairies in)
I do wander everywhere,
Swifter than the moon’s sphere;
And I serve the fairy queen,
To dew her orbs upon the green:
The cow slips tall her pensioners be;
In their gold coats spots you see;
Those be rubies, fairy favours,
In those freckles live their savours:
I must go seek some dew drops here,
And hang a pearl in every cowslip’s ear.
(We welcome summer in!)

8. Lammas
All text and music original, apart from bracketed text and its associated chant (traditional).
(Hoof and horn, hoof and horn,
All that dies will be reborn.
Corn and grain, corn and grain,
All that falls will rise again.)

Bring the crops in against the weather:
Wheat and barley and hops and hay.
Working, harvesting in together –
Celebrating Lammas today.

Night draws nearer, and wind blows colder:
Wheat and barley and hops and hay.
Gather in as the days grow shorter,
Celebrating Lammas today.

Cull the last of the Summer’s bounty:
Wheat and barley and hops and hay.
Welcome in Autumn’s golden beauty –
Celebrating Lammas today.

Bid farewell to the days of Summer:
Wheat and barley and hops and hay.
Calling in the cool rains of Winter,
Celebrating Lammas today.

(Hoof and horn, hoof and horn,
All that dies will be reborn.
Corn and grain, corn and grain,
All that falls will rise again)

9. Mabon
Wind, fire, sea, stone
Breath, flame, wave, bone

Long light has lingered here, Earth still is warm,
Deepening shadows lost by the dawn.
Long darkness rising here, though heat lingers on,
Twist of the Equinox – Mabon has come.

Dead leaves fall silently, drift on the air,
Trees standing, slumbering – dry, cracked and bare.
Time passes quietly, echoing past:
Earth calls the winter in. Mabon at last!

Shadows through the mist I see:
Time passing silently.
Starlight, as the Spiral bends.
Moonlight, as the daylight ends.

10. Closing
By the Earth, by all fleshly beings
By the Water, and all creatures that drink from her
By the Fire, and the shining spirits of the Bright Ones
By the Breath that gives all Life.

By Earth, by Water, by Fire and by Air
Bright Ones, depart in peace from this place.

General Information

Written in 2004, “The Wheel Of The Year: A Pagan Song Cycle”, was my first composition. It was premiered by RMIT Occasional Choral Society in 2004.

The “Wheel” has since been performed over 50 times by dozens of choirs and small ensembles around the world (in the USA, Germany, Canada, Brazil, the UK and Australia among others), and has enjoyed great success.

It continues to be performed regularly, as a whole piece and as separate movements, especially within the worldwide Pagan community.

The separate movements, available for individual download at this website, are ideal for small groups to perform individually as required at the various times throughout the year, although the piece continues to enjoy many performances as a complete work.

The most popularly performed movements are “Yule”, “Beltane” and “Mabon”.

This piece celebrates the eight sacred days of the Pagan community, which are collectively known as the Wheel of the Year. All of the text and music is original and copyright to the composer, except where indicated.

If a singing bowl cannot be procured, a triangle or bell is suitable and will work just fine.

None of the movements are difficult.

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