‘Oikan ayns Bethlehem’ (downloadable PDF)


A traditional carol from the Isle of Man, arranged with harmonies for Scottish pipes. Please see further below for more information and an audio sample.


There are two different tunes set to the lyrics of ‘Oikan ayns Bethlehem’ (Manx-Gaelic for ‘A Babe in Bethlehem’). The tune used in this arrangement is less well known, but unquestionably effective. This version was sourced from the Apollo’s Fire album Sacrum Mysterium (2012), and is set in the key of A-modal (Dorian). A harmony part, first verse lyrics (with translation), and chord symbols are included.

[NB: This melody requires the nontraditional note C-natural. This can be played on conically-bored chanters —e.g. Highland and Border pipes— with a ‘cross-‘ or ‘forked’ fingering pattern. On cylindrically-bored chanters without custom features —e.g. standard smallpipe chanters— you may need to apply a piece of tuning tape over the top 80% of the C soundhole.]

Both this version and the better known one are two of over 100 carols printed in the collection, On This Day Earth Shall Ring.

An audio sample, featuring Scottish smallpipes (D-chanter, with tuning tape flattening the written C). The harmony part can be heard on the repeat, approximately halfway through the track: