Hunt for an unknown singer

Tue, 12 Dec 2017


A 50-year-old recording has recently been uncovered and attempts are being made to find out who the unknown singer is.

Captured live at a Christmas church service in 1968, the recording features a traditional Manx song which has caught the attention of Dr Chloe Woolley, Manx Music Development Officer at Culture Vannin:

‘This performance is something very special; it is amazing to discover it hidden here in an old recording of a church service.’

The song, Oikan ayns Bethlehem ('Child in Bethlehem’), is a traditional song in Manx Gaelic about the baby Jesus. The tune was collected from the 84-year-old Tom Caine of Douglas in the 1890s by W. H. Gill (who was later to compose the Manx National Anthem), and the words are taken from the earlier song, 'Carval yn Ullick,' published in the Mona's Herald in February 1890. The song is one of the songs from Isle of Man’s unique ‘carval’ tradition, and one of the most popular.

‘This song has been performed by many of the leading musicians today, including Ruth Keggin, Caarjyn Cooidjagh & Emma Christian. But this 1968 performance has something special about it. It would be wonderful to be able to attribute it to someone.’

It is not known where on the Isle of Man the recording was made, but it is believed that it is likely to be in Lonan, Onchan or Douglas. It was made by the former World War II internee and friend of Mona Douglas, Baron Nikolai Giovanelli.

The song can be heard via the embed below or on the Culture Vannin SoundCloud page: soundcloud.com/culture-vannin/oikan-ayns-bethlehem-manx-carval-1968/

If anybody has any information, please contact Culture Vannin on 01624 676 169.