This is a modern folk song about the history of glass-making in Sunderland. It is part of a collection of songs about the River Wear, “Winter Wear”. It can be performed as a Christmas song, or at other times of year. It is not especially religious.
Glass-making has always played an important role in the cultural and industrial history and soul of Sunderland and the River Wear: Benedict Biscop’s unique use of French glass-makers to fill in the windows of his monastery church, St. Peter’s in the 9th century; the industrial melting pot of the 19th century where the abundant supply of coal from the Durham coalfield, ferried down the River Wear fuelled several industries, most notably steel-making, shipbuilding and glass making; the European monopoly of Joblings Glassworks making heatproof oven-ware out of Pyrex in the mid- 20th century; and the National Glass Centre of today in which students at the University and glass artists from around the country craft enchanting art works. The first people to see each of these phenomena must have been transfixed by the novelty they were witnessing. This song portrays the response to each of these first encounters with the magical glass.
This is an art song that needs some performing flair as the Cat on Noah’s Ark is too proud to ask for food, but is ravenous and dreams of milk and mouse. He is not too hungry to express his perennial hatred of dogs either! It is in F major and has sections in 6/4 and 4/4.
Mostly SATB with some doubling up in the parts to SSAA or SATTB or SSATBB A cappella.