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Buccas' Song - by Ivan Balls
October 1920 - 'there had been some rain'
The cataract of the cliff of Heaven fell blinding off the brink
As if it would wash the stars away as suds go down the sink.
The seven heavens came roaring down for the throats of Hell to drink
And Noah, he cocked his eye and said,
"It looks like rain, I think."

The weather has always had a considerable influence on the lives of the communities of West Cornwall - at play as much as at work - and Newlyn Male Choir has had no concessions from the elements, from open air concerts at the bandstand in the Morrab Gardens during the pre and immediate post-war years to more recent summer evening concerts at Newlyn Harbour or their annual Buccas' Fair on Tolcarne Green - all suffering at times anything from 'dry slag' to a 'gutsful'. Choirs everywhere have learned to accept the risks of open-air engagements and adapt to the circumstances but what may not be known about Newlyn choir in particular is the influence that rain had on its formation seventy years ago. The choir first performed publicly in 1921 but the events leading to this occurred in 1920......

Buccas' Song!

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price £2.50 plus postage UK 75p, overseas £1.50

Newlyn Male Choir - a short history - by Margaret E. Perry

With a break from 1939 to 1945, when choir activities were suspended for the duration of the Second World War, Newlyn Male Choir has been in existence since 1921. By that date male voice choirs were well established around Mounts Bay, Mousehole Male Voice Choir was founded in 1909 and Marazion Apollo Choir in 1904. Both are still in existence today and the latter is fast approaching its centenary. Around the world, wherever the Cornish settled at times of emigration, groups of men have got together to sing and form choirs. They kept alive, and continue to do so, traditional Cornish songs and hymns while constantly adding new and more ambitious works to their repertoire. In recent times, with easier travel, there have been exchange visits between choirs from Cornwall and 'Cornish' choirs around the world but Newlyn Male Choir has always travelled, in the early days to take part in competitions both within Cornwall and further afield.

The first appearance of the choir at the County Music Festival took place as early as 1922, in May of that year at Falmouth they were awarded a first class certificate in one of the classes. In the same class in 1924 they gained first place ahead of choirs that included Mousehole Male Voice, in terms of inter-village rivalry a sweet victory indeed! From 1927 for the remaining pre-war years Newlyn Male Choir were the most consistently successful male choir in the county. In 1928 the choir entered the Advanced Class of the County Music Festival for the first time and won the Buller Howell shield, a success that they were to repeat on six occasions over a ten year period. These and many other successes are recorded in the brief history of Newlyn Male Choir 'Buccas' Song'.

For local people, and many visitors to Cornwall, it is the concerts given in and around the village that are remembered with pleasure and we all have our favourite songs. For the writer this has to be Crosbie Garstin's poem 'Rondeau' better known as 'On Newlyn Hill' set for male voices by choir member Kenneth Northey. In 1984 the choir selected this as the title track for their first cassette recording. Surely exiled Newlyners around the world must play this tape in moments of homesickness.


On Newlyn Hill the gorse is bright;
Upon the hedgerows left and right
Song-dizzy birds the Spring-time greet;
The bluebells weave a purple sheet;
Primroses star the lanes' green night.

Across the Bay each moorland height
Glows golden in the evening light,
And Dusk walks violet-eyed and sweet
On Newlyn Hill.

A swarm of lights, pearl-soft and white,
A fairy-lamp-land exquisite,
Opens its star-eyes at the feet
Of hills where shore and wavelets meet;
Then dreams come, mystic, infinite,
On Newlyn Hill.

From 'Vagabond Verses' by Crosbie Garstin
(London: Sidgwick & Jackson, Ltd. 1917)