Updated Schedule & Rules Of The Road

We’ve made some updates to the schedule you’ll want to check out. If there are others let us know.


As you know once a year we encourage everyone to re-read the “About Athens Dulcimers” page. We all need reminders from time to time of our rules of the road and basic etiquette.  https://athensdulcimerclub.wordpress.com/about/


News from Jon Harris

Those of you who know Jon know that this past year he and Betty moved to Florida. The other day I saw on the Friends of the Mountain Dulcimer website (fotmd.com) that Sunday he was having a dulcimer meeting down his way to measure interest in maybe starting a dulcimer gathering so I sent him a shout out and received this reply:

Hi David,

I thought of you today while reviewing the Athens web site. Great job there.

I am no longer building dulcimers. #939 was last. The tools were sold to Tom Lee who hopes to start building the Sweetstrings dulcimer. My first attempt of measuring interest in the dulcimer here in our community (Arlington Ridge) was limited to only 3 of us but the snowbirds are just starting their return. There are several clubs near us and I played with one of them last Saturday for a local folk festival. We live only about 15 miles from where the Mt Dora festival is held.

So Betty and I are enjoying life in central Florida and plan to continue traveling across the U.S.

Please say hi for us to the folks there.



History Tune-Up: The Bells of St. Mary’s

By David Bennett
2 October 2018

If you’ve ever played with the Athens Dulcimers you know that one of the many tunes we like to play is “The Bells of St. Mary’s.”

Even before I joined the group, some ten years ago, I was somewhat familiar with the tune as I’d heard it every Christmas watching the 1945 Bing Crosby movie by the same name.

Feeding my appetite to learn the history of yet another tune I did some snooping. One of the things I found out about the song is the original tune predates the Bing Crosby movie and although the song is sometimes associated with Christmas because of the movie, it is not a “Christmas song” per se as you’ll see by the lyrics below. The lyrics in the 1945 Bing Crosby movie were written by a nun specifically for the movie (and even those lyrics are not about Christmas). We certainly play it year-round in Athens, Alabama.

The original song was popular when it was first published in 1917. The music was composed by A. Emmett Adams (1889-1938) and the lyrics were written by Douglas Furber (1885-1961) following a visit in 1914 to St. Mary’s Church, Southampton, England, where they heard the recently installed bells. The song also became a major hit in the United States despite having been originally rejected by the publishers.

The first structure of St. Mary’s Church is nearly 1,400 years old, dating back to the first Saxon settlements of the 7th century, and was later a major collegiate church during the Middle Ages. As you can imagine the church has gone through many changes and rebuilds through the centuries.

Regarding the bells, a ring of eight bells was first installed in 1914 having been brought to St. Mary’s from the Southampton Docks railway station in a horse-drawn procession. In 1934 two more bells were added.

In World War II, during a blitz in November 1940, incendiary bombs destroyed the church and damaged the tower and bells. The damaged bells were taken away for safe-keeping. After the war the bells were recast in 1945 from the metal of the originals and restoration was completed in June 1948. The rebuilding of the rest of the church was begun in 1954 and completed a little more than two years later 1956.

Here is a 1920 Edison recording by Lewis James published in 1921 I found on the Smithsonian website. The lyrics are a little different than what I have below, but the tune is the same. It’s still interesting to me to hear a recording that is nearly a century old. https://memory.loc.gov/natlib/ihas/service/edrs/50722l.mp3

Here’s a more modern version: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rv9eMRaYR0c

The following are what I believe to be the original lyrics:

The Bells of St. Mary’s

The bells of St. Mary’s at sweet eventide,
Shall call me, beloved, to come by your side;
And out in the valley, in sound of the sea,
I know you’ll be waiting, yes waiting for me.


The Bells of St. Mary’s, ah! hear, they are calling
The young loves, the true loves, who come from the sea;
And so my beloved, when red leaves are falling,
The love-bells shall ring out, ring out, for you and me.

At the porch of St. Mary’s I’ll wait there with/for you,
In your/my soft wedding dress with its ribbons of blue;
In the church of St. Mary’s, sweet voices shall sing,
For you and me, dearest, the wedding bells ring.


The Bells of St. Mary’s, ah! hear, they are calling
The young loves, the true loves, who come from the sea;
And so my beloved, when red leaves are falling,
The love-bells shall ring out, ring out, for you and me.

Bells Of St. Mary’s Tabs:

(0) 000000  11  222222  44  555555

6+6+  777777  55  444444  22  333333

4  3  222222  00  111111

(0)(0)  000000  11  222222  44  555555

6+6+  777777

44  77  6+6+  55  44

77  6+6+  55  44

7777  8888  75420

Video (slow): Bells of St. Mary’s by Allatooners Dulcimer Ensemble  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R9V3FdBlI48

Video (faster): The Bells of St Mary at the 2016 Cumberland Gap Dulcimer Gathering (closer to how we play it in Athens, Alabama)  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=grM5qETsjXI

David B <><


Whittling, Fiddling Violet Hensley

Currently there are many from Athens Dulcimers traveling, camping, and spreading the Athens Dulcimer joy in the Branson, Missouri and Mountain View, Arkansas areas.

This morning I received an update from Louise Todd. She and Jerry are in Branson and later this week will head on over to Mountain View and join the others.

Here is what Louise sent me:

We were thrilled to finally meet Violet Hensley of Yellville, AR at Silver Dollar City. She was playing her fiddle she had carved in 1934 when she was 18. She is billed as Whittling, Fiddling Violet Hensley.”

Jake used to play with Violet and her family band when Branson was in his traveling circuit. Violet remembered Jake!

  • Violet was born in 1916 in a two-bedroom log home in Mt. Ida, Arkansas, the same log cabin her father was born in in 1874.
  • She will turn 102 on October 21st.
  • Violet was married when she was 18 and had ten children.
  • Her husband was wounded during WWII.
  • Her “citizenship” at Silver Dollar City began in 1967, originally, it wasn’t to play the fiddle. It was to be a woodcarver.
  • In 1969 she appeared in the Beverly Hillbillies and also on the Captain Kangaroo show.
  • Has made 73 fiddles.
  • Has appeared three times on the Grand Ole Opry.

Here are some photos Louise took during their visit:


The banjo player is Mike Snider taken at the Grand Ole Opry when she was 100:

Here’s some more information about Violet:

David B <><

New events on our schedule

Louise has just added a new gig for next month, 12 Oct, check out the schedule.

Also, 4 Oct is our regular jam. If I’m not mistaken it’ll be a limited jam in that the Rec Ctr will be open for those who still want to jam. However, many of us will be on the Athens campus for the two different (free) concerts by Bradley Walker and by Flatt Lonesome.

For more see the updated schedule

David B <><