The Ancient Green Story

This song was written by Kathleen Hannan (North Carolina) in 1990, who tells this story about it's origins:

This song came through many years ago while I was lying on a huge rock next to the Schuylkill River in Fairmount Park in Philadelphia, crying my heart out over a relationship that was transforming.  A beautiful oak tree was growing out of the rock, and as the song was born my sorrowful feelings washed through with the sound of the river, and I was left feeling whole, and at peace with the way things were.

Of the songs I've written in my lifetime, this is the one that has truly entered the folk stream. People sing this song in Vermont, Maine, Virginia, New York, Massachusetts, North Carolina, and Florida, and possibly places in between. It has travelled to places I have not been, and met people I have not met.  Having grown up singing traditional songs, I love that this song has a life of it's own, and I hope that it will be one of many songs honoring Earth and honoring the Mother that will continue to thrive in our country.

The original lyrics are slightly different, but the song is unmistakeably the same:

I lay under a tall oak tree
Asked the Goddess to shelter me
She wrapped me up in ancient green
Ancient Green

All my tears, all my tears
All my tears, the river's gonna wash away

Sometime before 2014, the song found it’s way to our country, via Playback Theatre and onto the community choir scene. The tree became a rimu, and we had fears and years to add to the tears that the river’s gonna wash away. Kathleen’s “mother Earth/goddess” transmuted into the tree itself. Our choir even invented some Christmas words to use at end-of-year performances!

Since April last year, and continuing through this year, Kathleen has been running singing groups on Zoom. She says “ Although we had hoped to sing indoors in person this fall…in order to support stopping the spread of Covid for each other and for the community,  we will have our…
Chorus on Zoom…I and many others feel sad that we won't be singing in the same room yet!  Still, I as I have come to accept the situation… I am excited that I will see you and sing with you soon.”

Notes by Carol Shortis
Reference: Kathleen Hannan website.


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