For some while I have been aware that Ruhamah Chapel in Bridgend was to close (see my previous post) and have visited on a few occasions to photograph the interior. On one of these visits I happened to climb into the pulpit and on climbing back down the stairs afterwards noticed the seat which runs across the rear and suddenly remembered about the previous time I had been in that pulpit some 50 or more years ago!

In the last year of junior school at Oldcastle I was placed in Mr Thomas’ class, a teacher known for his love of music, indeed our class was the only one with a piano. Very often we would be stopped in our work and he’d make us all stand to sing something or other and then be allowed to get back on with our work. He was also not averse to whacking us boys on the bum if he felt it was deserved, a full bend-over in front of the whole class, a treatment even I received on one or two occasions, but that’s another story as they say!

Mr Thomas formed a school choir, it was mostly of children from his class but pupils from Mr Williams’ class were also included. Our repertoire consisted mainly of songs learned from the Singing Together series on BBC radio and such titles as There was a man called Michael Finnigan and Down in Demerara come to mind, but it was a sprightly and energetic song entitled Marianina that all us kids loved to sing and would heartily give our all to the performance of this piece.

Occasionally Mr Thomas would arrange for the school choir to perform outside the school and it was on one such occasion we found ourselves on a Sunday evening in 1960 at Ruhamah Chapel in Bridgend. Most of the choir were squeezed into the “big seat” in front of the pulpit but a number of us were sent up to sit in the pulpit. I was last in the queue and discovered there was only enough space to get one cheek on the seat and I was perilously close to being pushed out of the pulpit and vaguely remember wriggling and getting the “glare” from old Thomas! Of course, we sang Marianina in our usual lusty version and, strange how we remember such detail, then Mr Thomas announced that as we liked singing it so much we’d sing it again.

Right then, I’ll provide the words so you can sing along with this version I’ve found on You Tube, although I believe we used to sing it much, much quicker than this choir. Apologies if you’re singing it to yourself for the rest of day!

O’er the ocean flies a merry fay,
Soft her wings are as a cloud of day,
As she passes all the blue waves say:
Marianina, do not roam,
Whither, whither is your home,
Come and turn us into foam,
Marianina, Marianina,
Come, O come and turn us into foam!

O’er the fields she passes to and fro,
By the cornstalks standing row by row,
Poppies whisper as they see her go,
“Marianina, little friend,
Whither your footsteps wend,
Come and teach us how to bend,
Marianina, Marianina,
Come. O come and teach us how to bend.

O’er the mountains when the day is done,
When the clouds are gath’ring o’er the sun,
While they, weeping, whisper one by one,
“Marianina, come again,
We have tried to dance in vain,
Come and turn us into rain,
Marianina, Marianina,
Come, O come and turn us into rain.

Source: Singing Together, BBC Publications