Glastonbury Thorn

SATB unacc., and soprano or alto soloist; U.S. publisher, Walton Music – WW1975; Duration 5 minutes.

[recording by THE NEW AMERICAN VOICES, ZRS conductor, Grace Nelson, soloist]

Glastonbury (pronounced “glah-stuh-n-bree”) is a town in southwest England, known for its natural beauty,
ancient sites, myths, and King Arthur legends. It overlooks the marshes of the Somerset Levels. Glastonbury
and surrounding is a pilgrimage for New Age enthusiasts, those with strong religious convictions, persons
fascinated by legends and “grails,” and those who simply love Somerset and the peaceful sanctuary of the
beautiful flora and fauna. Many “pilgrims” believe that Joseph of Arimathea (the figure who offered the tomb for Jesus’ body) went to Britain with a group of followers, bringing the cup (Holy Grail) that had been used
at the Last Supper. When they arrived in Glastonbury, tradition holds that Joseph stuck his staff into the ground, and it immediately rooted and burst into bloom. This was a sign to Joseph to establish the first church in England on that hill. The staff is believed to be from a spring from the crown of thorns – thus the “Glastonbury Thorn” tradition began. Flowers from that thorn tree have been presented to queens and kings during Advent for centuries.


O’er the brooks and marshy levels of Glastonbury,
Standing in tall wind-swept moor grass and bluish meadow rue,
An Eastern Thorn with flowers white and brilliant as the dawn,
With roseberries on new-fallen snow.

The deep hay meadow’d roots of the Glastonbury Thorn
Remind one of abiding Faith in the harshest of storms.
The thorn leaves of the Ley Line give Refuge and strength,
And Hope on Joseph’s branches for all who believe.

Twice-blooming offspring of the stainless Rose,
Celebrate the Holy Grail of birth, love and life.
Weio, weio, allewe-gloria!

Weio, weio, alleweio!

***”weio, alleweio” – [weo alɛweo] or transliterated, “way-oh, ah-leh-way-oh” – this archaic phrase,
likely used in some “urban dictionary of the medieval world,” appears to communicate praise
or adoration of a higher being or of the natural world.

***ley line – straight geographic alignments thought to be intentionally drawn between historical
structures/landmarks; some traditions promote that ancient societies deliberately built
these lines to “engage the earth’s energy,” communicate with other worlds, or even align
trade routes.