Sundown: Whispers of Ragnarok

by Sassafrass

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    The album contains the stage arrangements of the twelve songs from the Sundown cycle. The physical album also contains a twenty-four page full color booklet with the lyrics to the pieces, including all the lyrics to the hidden harmony lines. The CD packaging has been produced with recycled packaging using recyclable and biodegradable materials, and minimal plastic.

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about

Our complete Viking Mythology Song Cycle released at last.

Gods and myths of the Viking era come to life in this musical retelling of Norse Mythology. These twelve songs narrate the history of the cosmos according to Viking legend, from the creation of the world to Ragnarok and the new world beyond, focusing on the death of Baldur, and the strife between Odin and his blood-brother Loki.

Combining a folk style with medieval modes, complex close harmony and multiple sets of competing lyrics, these songs present detailed and lively retellings of the myths, illustrating different characters’ competing perspectives, and the rival worldviews of gods, giants and mortals who compete to survive in the harsh cosmology imagined by the Vikings. The songs are closely based on medieval Icelandic sources, and present the stories as they have been handed down, but expanding upon the perspectives of the different participants to bring new depth to the characters. The songs also examine aspects of Viking culture, especially the tradition of skaldic poetry, riddles, runes, and the value placed on storytelling as a form of passing on history.

The Sundown Project is both an album and a play, performed in period costumes. You can order the DVD through the "Physical Goods" tab here on Bandcamp.

ALSO AVAILABLE:

The physical CD contains these twelve recordings plus a 24-page full color booklet including all the lyrics for all songs and illustrations.

The Sundown Libretto is a 170 page book containing the complete script and all lyrics in order, so you can follow along with the complete story as it flows in the play. It also contains 90 pages of Norse mythological and cultural notes and details about the songs and play, written by composer Ada Palmer. It is available both as a coil bound book (through the "physical goods" tab) and as a downloadable DRM-free e-book (under "digital goods)."

The Sundown Songbook is a 272-page collection containing the complete sheet music for all twelve songs, plus bonus guitar chords for Hearthfire. It too is available as a coil-bound book, designed to be easy to set open on a music stand, and as an e-book.

credits

released January 4, 2015

Voices: Lila Garrott, Matt Granoff, Irina Greenman, Kara Hurvitz, Emily Lewis, Ada Palmer, Lauren Schiller, Tili Sokolov, Alexa Weingarden, Ruth Wejksnora, Alexandria Wilkie

Music by: Ada Palmer

Sound editing: Alexandria Wilkie, Nat Budin, Ada Palmer

Funded thanks to our 65 generous Kickstarter Backers

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Sassafrass Chicago, Illinois

Sassafrass performs Ada Palmer's original a cappella polyphonic folk music, complex pieces with lively narratives and fantasy, mythology or science fiction themes.

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Track Name: Hearthfire
Sung by Snorri, with the traveler’s words paralleled by Odin:
(Sung by chorus and Loki):

Winter, with storm on the way,
(Winter storm,)
When a stranger charged up to my gate, calling
(Stranger come,)
“Shelter! The light’s nearly done
(Shelter, light,)
And the wiser man hides when the Thunderer comes!”
(Night comes.)
And I offered him food as I brought him inside,
(Fine food, fine mead,)
And I bade my son empty the seat beside mine,
(Fine men, fine seat,)
But the stranger frowned softly, and answered, “Good host,
(Fine guest, fine host,)
With the blizzard so clear we had better sit close by the
(Blizzard come close!)

Hearthfire, Hearthfire, friend in the dark, fire.
Peace fire, feast fire, play.
Here, fire, now, fire, make the night ours, fire,
Bright in your circle of stories and stone.

Feast done, the time came for riddles, my
(Feast done now.)
Bright son sat down in the middle, cried,
(My sundown.)
“Ask me, I’ll answer you, stranger, true
(Ask me how)
Anything a leader of our people should know.”
(I know.)
And he counted the runes, and he spelled out the days
(Know runes, know days,)
And recited the list of the Allfather’s names
(Know list, know names,)
But our guest looked to me when the final round came.
(Guest knows my ways.)
“Do you know, son, how man learned to capture and tame
(No man can tame)

The Hearthfire, Hearthfire, friend in the dark, fire?
Guest fire, test fire, game.
Pet fire, man fire, play while you can, fire.
Prison is coming of cunning and stone.

And I answered at once what my
(And an-)
Parents had taught me in childhood days:
(-swer child,)
“The Allfather, when his creation was young,
(Father)
Came in traveler’s guise to teach humans his ways.
(Travel.)
And he taught us to stand, and he taught us to speak,
(Taught stand, taught speak)
And he taught how the noble should master the weak,
(Taught how make weak,)
And the fires of Musphel he snatched from the giants
(Fire snatcher,)
And used them to banish the Jotun defiance,
(User, captor.)
And fashioned the sun and the moon and the stars,
(Fast sun, moon, stars,)
And he taught us to make just a little bit ours:
(Taught make all ours,)

The Hearthfire, Hearthfire, friend in the dark, fire.
Hate, fire, wait, fire, home.
Need fire, bleed fire, hear as I plead, fire.
Stay in your prison of caution and stone.”

But he sighed as he asked, “Are you
(Sighed)
Sure the defiance is gone as you boast?”
(Sure gone)
And quick as a spell now I heard in the coal crackle
(Quick heard)
Words that had always been whispering close:
(Words whisper:)

(“Little one, my little one, lick free through the timbers
And feast on the children of jailkeeper Man.
Your parent roamed free burning forests to embers;
Recapture that birthright whenever you can.”)

“Hearthfire, Hearthfire,
(Little one, my little one,)
Friend in the dark, fire.
(Lick free through the timbers)
Hate, fire, wait, fire, home
(And feast on the children of jailkeeper man.)
Need fire, bleed fire, hear as I plead, fire,
(Your parent roamed free burning forests to embers;)
Stay in your prison of caution and stone.”
(Recapture that birthright whenever you can.)

Shock passed. The words wiped away
(Shock let see)
The illusion my sorrow had made,
(Illusion need.)
And I faced now the ashes and bone
(Face now ash,)
That were all that the fire had left of my home.
(All gone.)
For no roof stood above us, and I was no host,
(Roof gone, feast gone,)
And the son at my side was mere memory’s ghost.
(Son gone, peace gone,)
And the stranger who huddled where the embers glowed dim
(Home gone, world gone,)
Said, “Son, you’re not first to lose castle and kin to the
(Fire burn on!)

Hearthfire, Hearthfire,
(Little one, my little one,)
Friend in the dark, fire.
(Lick free through the timbers)
Cruel fire, tool fire, crime.
(And feast on the children of jailkeeper gods.)
Campfire, war fire, rage for me more, fire,
(Your parent roamed free burning forests to embers;)
Sealed in your prison of serpents & stone.”
(You carry that right as I wait in my bonds.)

And the ashes were washed from my eyes
(And ask)
And I saw what had always been plain:
(Stranger)
The Allfather standing before me, and by him
(Riddle)
His Bloodbrother’s spirit awake in the flame.
(Answer.)
And I fell to my knees, and I cried to him, “Father
(Men know, beasts know,)
I can’t understand why you let him live on!
(Stones know, seas know,)
For he murdered my son, and he murdered yours too,
(Suns know, skies know,)
And no force can extinguish this evil but you!”
(You know, I know. You)
But he beckoned me close as the blizzard arrived:
(Remember my gift as the blizzard arrives:)
“If you live through this night you will only survive thanks to

Hearthfire, Hearthfire
(Little one, my little one, lick)
Mother & murderer,
(Free through the timbers)
Hearthfire, Hearthfire, traitor and nurturer
(And feast on the children of jailkeeper gods.)
Kin fire, foe fire, evil I know, fire,
(Your parent roamed free burning forests to embers;)
Warding me still against evils I don't.
(You carry that spite as I rage in my bonds.)

Hearthfire, Hearthfire, desperate art, fire,
(Little one, my little one, lick free through the timbers)
Price that the living must pay.
(And feast on the children of Aesir and men!)
Guard my creation a little bit more, fire,
(Your parent roamed free ’til my brother betrayed me;)
Stay in your prison ’til
(You'll rise to that birthright when)
Everything crumbles and everything ends!
(Fire takes everything! Everything ends!)
Track Name: Gift of Life
As the brothers surveyed their new worlds
Proud of each creation in the seas and plains,
They felt one thing still missing from their work:
A people who could walk with them
And know their names.

CHORUS:
And Lodur gave the life spark that keeps us warm in night’s dark,
And Hoenir gave us the will to move,
And Odin gave us the life breath that makes the spirit last past death:
The three together the gift of Life.

They first made the Elves, the most magical race.
Fair as the zephyrs that hardly touch the
Earth with their grace,
Creatures of freedom and laughter and music and light,
Not good companions for the brothers born of war and
Storm and flame and ice.

First made we
Hide away, far from Earth.
We know what made you,
Harsh creators, sons of monsters and ice.

CHORUS

They next made the Dwarves who live deep in the Earth
And learn from her how to mine and forge
And conjure and curse,
Diggers and craftsmen, and jealous of secrets & spells,
Not very grateful to the makers of the sunny world
Outside their stony cells.

Dig down, deep down, deeper down
Silver, gold and iron hiding
Melt down, beat down, smelt down, hammer down
Axe & sword & spear & cup & ring & spell.

CHORUS

Now the brothers walked their worlds once more,
Saddened by the wonders which were theirs alone. They found a pair of trees close by the shore:
Straight and tall and hardy shapes, much like their own.

The ash tree was solid and steady and ready to stand,
And from him they made Ask, the first man, while
The elm tree was supple, & subtle, & bursting with life,
And from her they made Embla, first woman, first wife.

Their children spread, many and clever and fast,
And asked more questions as seasons, years and generations passed.
The brothers brought answers, and pride as the humans became
A people who could walk with them and
Learn their wisdom, tell their stories,
Join their battles, share their halls and know their names.

(First made we)
(Hide away, far from Earth here)
(We know what made you,)
(Harsh creators, sons of war & storm & fire & ice.)

(Dig down, deep down, deeper down)
(Silver, gold and iron hiding we)
(Melt down, beat down, smelt down,)
(Hammer down on our)
(Axe & sword & spear & cup & ring & secret & spell.)

CHORUS
Track Name: The Futhark Song
F, U, Thu, A, R, K, G
W, H, N, I, J, Ei
P, Z, S, T, B, E
M, L, Ng-sound, D and O.
Now I know my Nordic Runes.
Next time won’t you join my tune?

Fehu, Uruz, Thorn and Ansuz, Raido, Kaunaz, Gebo, Wunjo
Hagalaz, then Nauthiz, Isa, Jera, Eoh (that’s a diphthong),
Pertho, Algiz, Sowilo, then Tyr, Berkana, Eihwaz, Mannaz,
Laguz, Ingus (that’s the Ng-sound), then comes Dagaz, last Othila.
All twenty-four letters in this order form the Futhark that the
Allfather discovered when he hung himself on Yggdrasil.
Track Name: The Futhark Broken
F, U, Thu, A, R, K, G
W, H, N, I, J, Ei
P, Z, S, T, B, E
M, L, Ng-sound, D and O.
Now I know my Nordic Runes.
Next time won’t you join my tune?

Fehu, Uruz, Thorn and Ansuz, Raido, Kaunaz, Gebo, Wunjo
Hagalaz, then Nauthiz, Isa, Jera, Eoh (that’s a diphthong),
Pertho, Algiz, Sowilo, then Tyr, Berkana, Eihwaz, Mannaz,
Laguz, Ingus (that’s the Ng-sound), then comes Dagaz, last Othila.
All twenty-four letters in this order form the Futhark that the
Allfather discovered when he hung himself on Yggdrasil.
Track Name: Here's to Valhalla
CHORUS:
Here’s to Valhalla! Home of the best,
Who love battle and feasting-sport better than rest
And who waken each morning prepared for the test
When the golden cock crows from Valhalla!
So here, come! Taste of the revels so
Near, found just on the far side of fear!
Rise! And lend us your spear
When the golden cock rallies Valhalla!

VERSE 1:
And here’s to the Valkyrie maidens
Who gather the hosts of the slain
And drink with us nightly, then join us at dawn
As we cross swords on Idavol plain

And here’s to our grubby-faced cook (named Andhrimnir)
His steaks, and his roasts, and his grease-dripping pies!
Who cooks up Saehrimnir the magical boar
Who comes back to life daily to feed us once more
When we’ve filled up our mornings with fighting and falling
And feast again after we rise!

CHORUS

VERSE 2:
And here is to bountiful Heidrun
The goat with the udders of mead
That free-flowing fountain that gives us as much
As our four hundred thousand men need.

And we all know that Jotuns are stupid
But they do show a glimmer of hope
For they scheme to steal Mjollnir, the sun & the moon,
Fair Freya, and Idunn’s gold apples of youth
But they know we won’t rest ’til all Jotunheim shatters
If they harm a hair on that goat!

CHORUS

VERSE 3:
And here’s to the Goldencomb cock
That wakes us anew every dawn
Expels the temptations of revels and sleep
And makes sure that our passions surge strong

And here’s to his Sooty-red brother
Who waits on the rafters of Hel
And watches in silence each dawn and each dusk
As the cowards and oathbreakers fall as they must
To the hall where the hungry years blur into black
With no light and no cock crow to tell.

BRIDGE:
But a dawn will come when Sooty-red answers,
And all bonds break, and the monsters arise,
And Heimdall watchman will hear the hounds howl
And his Gjallarhorn will cry!
And since neither side will live to remember
The greatest feats that will ever be done,
The memories leak in prophecies backwards
So every age can know [what must come] /
[Why we wait, and watch, and feast, and fight, and cheer!]

FINAL CHORUS:
So, here’s to Valhalla! Home of the best,
Who love battle and feasting-sport better than rest
And who waken each morning prepared for the test
When the golden cock crows from Valhalla!
So here, come! Taste of the revels so
Near, found just on the far side of fear!
Rise! And lend us your spear
When the golden cock crows and the
Sooty-red answers, and
Monsters arise, and the
Allfather rallies
Valhalla! Valhalla! Valhalla!
Track Name: A New World
Frigg: Grandchildren, Thunder-sons, pride of your father
And light of your grandfather’s all-seeing eye,
The day is approaching of Ragnarok battle
When all of your family will die except you.
But a new world will rise from the waters,
And new life will stir in her seas,
And the old sun will leave us a daughter
As bright and as precious as she.

Children: Well we know, Grandmother, all that must come,
How the wolf and its children will swallow the sun,
And our father and grandfather fall to the beasts,
And the fires of Musphel will feast on the dead.

All: But a new world will rise from the waters,
And new eyes will wake to her dawn,
And the last pair: Lif and Lifthrasir,
The woman and husband
Will guard in their hiding place
Life and the will to live on.

Children: Well we know, Grandmother, all we must do
When the humans establish their homesteads anew.
We must teach them, like grandfather, all that they need:
How to stand, how to speak, how to fight, how to lead,
Why the old worlds have fallen, and why they still live.
But we don’t know what answer to give when they ask of us:

“What was
(Answer me, answer me)
Odin?
(Somebody answer me.)
This strange
(Oldest of questions and)
Allfather,
(Deepest of needs. Our)
Who built such
(Mystery, mystery,)
Wonders
(Teach us our history.)
And lost them again
(Lost all again)
To the dark?
(To the dark of the grave.)

Was he cruel? Was he kind? Was he wise? Was he blind
To the needs of the humans who suffered and died as he
Kept his worlds locked on their desperate course, with his
Justice, and witchcraft, and guile, and force?

What was Odin?
(Answer me, answer me. Why can’t he answer me?)
This teacher, and soldier,
(Teacher and soldier)
And trickster and king?
(And trickster and king?)
Who lost such wonders?
(Who, mystery, mystery, fathered our history?)
Seducer, and savior,
(Maker, and savior,)
And tyrant, and king?
(And tyrant, and king?)

Frigg: Grandchildren, take with you only one answer
To teach a new world what your grandfather was.
That from fire and ice, where no man can live easy
He carved out a place where a man could live proud.
And a new world will rise from the waters,
And new men will bask in her day.
And my lost sons: dear shining Baldur and
Unlucky Hod will return from the darkness
And join you in guiding their ways.

And they know, from Hel and Valhalla
What Fate shows at their father’s last stand.
That from fire and ice, where no man can die easy
He carved out a place where a man could live long and die proud.
And they know from Hel and Valhalla
What your grandfather gave to you.
So carry him with you in all that you teach and do.

When the new world will rise from the waters
And new tribes will ask you our names.
And my lost sons: tell them I love them, and tell them I miss them
And tell them I thought of them even as Ragnarok came.

Grandchildren, Thunder-sons, pride of your father
(Children:)
And light of your grandfather’s all-seeing eye,
(Help me know why)
The day is approaching of Ragnarok battle
(Ragnarok battle)
When all of your family will die
(All will die)
Except what lives on inside you.
(Even you.)
Track Name: Longer in Stories than Stone
(Answer me, answer me, answer me, answer me...)
Answer me, answer me, somebody answer me,
Still need the secrets the Allfather gave you,
(Baldur: I know what father gave to you.)
(Odin: Everything we made has a start and end, so it is for kings, so it is for men)
Mystery, mystery, teach us our history.
(Odin: So the nations rise, so the nations fall. Ice and fire born, ice and fire)
Lost all again to the dark (to the dark, to the dark, to the dark)
(Odin & Loki: Ice & fire rage, ice & fire rise, ice & fire fall)
Of the grave.

Histories fall to the dark of the grave
(Hel: Answer me, answer me, somebody answer me)
(Loki: Answer me, answer me, someone,)
As the centuries march and the memories fade
(Hel: Please! Somebody answer)
(Loki: Answer me, answer me, someone.)
Of the fields, and the halls, and the calls of the men,
(Hel: Me! Someone remember!)
(Loki: Men know, beasts know,)
And the races that rose and were slaughtered again
(Hel: Remember! Someone remember!)
(Loki: Stones know, seas know,)
As the winter storms bury our forefathers’ halls,
(Hel: Someone remember me! Somebody,)
(Loki: Stars know, skies know,)
And their honored names vanish from crumbling walls
(Hel: Please! Somebody answer!)
(Loki: You know, I know.)
But the questions and answers and secrets and truths
(Hel: I know secrets)
Last longer in stories, last longer in stories than stone.
(Answer me, answer me, answer me, answer me...)

Odin & Loki:
Answer me, answer me. I know you’ll answer me.
I am the glimmer that pierces the night of your
(Seeress & Baldur: Ice and fire light, ice and fire light…)
(Snorri: Answer I know. I am here, I will show.)
(Hel: Brother, my enemy, brother, my enemy…)
Joined by Baldur & Hel:
Mystery, mystery. Reach through your history:
We are there waiting with answers and stories and light.
(Seeress: Ice and fire light, ice and fire light…)
(Snorri: Brother, my enemy, brother, my enemy…)
Seeress & Snorri: Answer me please.

All:
And together now we will sing through the ages
The secrets of life that the Allfather gave.
As centuries crumble the whispers of ancients
Last longer in stories, last longer in stories than stone.
(Answer me, answer me, answer me, answer me...)

Odin & Loki:
Laugh with me, curse with me, touch all the Earth with me,
Learn from my cunning and join in my games.
(Seeress & Snorri: Light, ice and fire light, ice and fire…)
(Baldur & Hel: Brother, my enemy, brother, my enemy…)
Joined by Baldur & Hel:
The lonely gods made you with planning and purpose
To live through our battles and always remember our names.
(Seeress & Snorri: Light, ice and fire light, ice and fire…)

(Answer me, answer me, answer me, answer me...)
(Hearthfire, Hearthfire...)
Hearthfire, Hearthfire keeps us warm in night’s dark and
(Hearthfire, Hearthfire friend (keeps us warm in night’s dark),)
Hoenir gave us the will to move, and
(Hearthfire, Hearthfire, foe (keeps us warm in night’s dark),)
Odin gave us the life spark that makes the spirit last past dark
(Hearthfire, Hearthfire keeps us warm in night’s dark)
The three together the gift of life.
(The brothers together the givers of life)

And Lodur gave the life spark that keeps us warm in night’s dark and
(Hearthfire, Hearthfire, friend in the dark fire,)
(Loki: Little one, my little one, lick free through the timbers)
Hoenir gave us the will to move, and
(Hearthfire, Hearthfire, nurturing spark fire,)
(Loki: And feast on the children of jailkeeper man)
Odin gave us the life spark that makes the spirit last past dark
(Hearthfire, Hearthfire, desperate art fire,)
(Loki: Your parent roamed free, burning forests to embers;)
The brothers together the givers of life.
(Recapture that birthright whenever you can!)
(Loki: Capture that birthright whenever you can!)

But a dawn will come when Sootyred answers
(Seeress: But a dawn will come)
And all bonds break, and the monsters arise,
(When all bonds break)
And Heimdall watchman will hear the hounds howl,
(And howl the hounds)
And his Gjallarhorn will cry!
(And horn will cry!…)
And if our brave days must end in the battle
(…Cry!)
And silence fall where the warriors lie,
(…)
Still every age will always remember
(I will always remember)
Who taught you so long to survive.
(Who taught you so long to survive.)

So here’s to Valhalla, home of the best
(Loki & Hel: So hear, Hearthfire, Hearthfire)
Who love battle and feasting-sport better than rest,
(Loki & Hel: Feast, Hearthfire, Hearthfire,)
And who waken each morning prepared for the test
(Loki & Hel: Wake, Hearthfire, Hearthfire,)
When the golden cock crows from Valhalla.
(Loki: Claim Valhalla. But a)
(Hel: Answer me, answer me.)
So here, come, taste of the revels so
(Loki & Hel: Dawn will come for Hearthfire, Hearthfire,)
Near, found just on the far side of fear.
(Loki & Hel: Goldencomb will crow for the Aesir)
Rise, and lend us your spear
(Loki & Hel: And Sootyred will waken the monsters)
When the golden cock rallies Valhalla.
(Loki & Hel: And Hearthfire, Hearthfire rise!)

Odin & Loki:
Worship me, worship me. Think you don’t worship me?
I am what makes you, and feed as I grow in your
(Seeress & Snorri: Light, ice and fire light, ice and fire…)
(Baldur & Hel: Memory, memory…)
Joined by Baldur & Hel:
Memory, memory. Death is no end for we
Always exist while we live in the stories you know.
(Seeress & Snorri: Light, ice and fire light, ice and fire…)
All:
Answer me, answer me, somebody answer me.
Still need the secrets the Allfather gave you.
(Hel: Please! Somebody answer me!)
Mystery, mystery, teach us our history,
(Hel: Someone remember!)
Carry it safe from the dark (from the dark, from the dark, from the dark...)
(Hel: Someone remember! Someone remember!)

For together now we will sing through the ages
The secrets of life that the Allfather gave.
As centuries crumble the whispers of ancients
Last longer in stories, last longer in stories,
So carry our stories, so carry our stories back...
Seeress & Snorri: Answer me...
Odin & Loki: ...answer me, answer me...
Baldur & Hel: Remember…
Seeress & Snorri: ...carry them...
All: Home.