Jennifer Bell

Jennifer Bell

Jennifer Bell is a songwriter heavily influenced by traditional folk songs and early music. Her melodies are very singable and the lyrics intelligent and imaginative, sometimes with a macabre twist…
Originally with the short-lived but pretty successful ‘80’s folk band ‘Sherwood Rise’ that made the LP of Robin Hood-related songs and tunes ‘From the Wood’, she now performs her songs solo at folk clubs and festivals (has been seen in period costume) accompanying herself on lute or 12 string guitar.
Now in a recording partnership with Wilson Walker, who adds some very creative fiddle harmonies, they have brought out a cd '...and so to Bedlam'.
Wilson is active in the Morris and traditional folk world in Nottingham - a musician and dancer with Dolphin Morris Men (his fiddle jig is a thing to behold!) He is lead musician for (the Dancing England Rapper Tournament 2018 winners) Whip The Cat, as well as fiddle player for Bellows, Scratchitt & Pluckitt ceilidh/barn dance band, and has recently joined the ranks of local traditional music and song combo Higgs Bo'sun. He somehow also manages to find time to present a weekly show, Wil Walker's Take On Tradition, on internet radio station Exile FM.

New album out now:

'And so to Bedlam' - 11 original songs written by Jennifer Bell with Wilson Walker on fiddle, Neil Rabjohn adding percussion on a couple of tracks, and the cd was produced by Roger Wilson.

Hear The Heavens:
A paraphrase of Psalm 19, with fiddle harmony
Hear the Heavens

Hear the Heavens declare
The glory of the Lord
Day and night declaring signs and wonders,
Their music glorious without words.
The harmony of dawn
The singing of the sun
Over all the earth they pour their knowledge
Proclaiming all the work the Lord has done

And may my words be heard
May this meditation please the Lord –
He is my light and hope
My rock, my redeemer, my friend
My master and reward.

His laws are perfect laws
His statutes make me wise,
His commands giving joy to my heart
And radiance to my weary eyes.
Love the Lord your God,
Faith will make you pure,
His decrees are righteous and the fear of the Lord will evermore and ay endure

And may my words be heard
May this meditation please the Lord –
He is my light and hope
My rock, my redeemer, my friend
My master and reward.

Gold is not so pure
Honey not so sweet...
The words of God are freedom for my soul
And in seeking them I am made whole –
I am complete...
I fall in worship at His feet,
He is my light and hope,
My rock, my redeemer,
Without Him I am incomplete.

© Jennifer Bell

Ship In The Night:
This is a song adapted from one I’d been writing about the Mayflower. A long sea voyage in an unseaworthy ship – and with plague breaking out - seemed to be an apt metaphor for the Covid 19 situation...and it maybe wasn’t going to end so well as for the Pilgrims. But we’re optimistic till the end.
Ship in the night (Plague Ship)

Bright with gladness all the day
And soft the evening light.
Our ship sails onward, the journey is long,
As dusk falls and turns to night
And all is well with the world this eventide
So let us rest and be thankful and sleep.
Lulled tenderly in the swell of the sea
And gently rocked in the arms of the deep.

Now we are burdened with sickness and strife
The cloud of unknowing falls.
The dark is rising, the seeds of destruction
May take root within us all.
But there must soon be an end to all of our woes
So let us rest and be thankful and sleep,
Lulled tenderly in the swell of the sea
And gently rocked in the arms of the deep.

But now on board there’s sorrow and sighing
And we see no end in sight.
Death and fear are now our companions,
As we sail into the night.
And there’s no joy to be had this Eastertide
So let us rest till we finally sleep.
Lulled tenderly in the swell of the sea
And gently rocked in the arms of the deep.

But till the morning we can be dreaming
We’ll dream of the day when we reach dry land.
Where we’ll embrace each other in freedom,
And the wonder of finding our journey’s end.
But songs of joy will be tempered by a lament,
Remembering all who did not wake from sleep.
Still lulled tenderly by the swell of the sea
And gently rocked in the arms of the deep.

© Jennifer Bell

The Weathermen:
Climate change is waking the old gods up and they’re not happy. There’s also a verse about’s a bit apocalyptic.
The Weathermen

Well I was born of strife under stormy skies
And thunder drowned my new-born cries.
The lightning ripped the night apart and
Cauterised my soul and broke my heart
And I’m the child of the weathermen
Ancient furies and mayhem bringer men.
I ride the whirlwind and spin the hurricane
And still have tuppence in change

And I was raised in hunger and misery and
Your excess has wasted the world I knew.
When oceans burn there is no-where left to turn
Misfortune’s taught me a thing or two.
And I’m the child..

Do not trust your overlords
That fight with rhetoric not swords
Pray we all with one accord
Can shake the power down...

Shake the power down
To the common ground x2
Turn the world around.

Do not think these are idle threats
We old gods have power yet
Reminding you, lest you forget
This world is not your own

All your politics,
Power and technology x2
All will be overthrown...

So jump when we say jump, or the next thing that you know
Is death has you in perfect thrall
And there will be no second chance
For this is war
And winner takes it all
And I’m the child...

The end’s not always heralded
By noise of war; a silent seed
May bring your world down to its knees
And then our work is done

Crashing to its knees,
You can’t beat a good disease
And now you’re on the run

You’ve only yourselves to blame
You didn’t watch the weathervane
Didn’t watch the weathervane turn...

And now we’re woken, all your wit and money
Won’t protect your necks
From our embrace
And there will come a reckoning
When old gods meet your new gods face to face
And I’m the child...

© Jennifer Bell

Seasons: 12 string guitar and flute
A song about growing old beautifully.

The winter turns to spring again,
The seasons move in us like fields of grain,
The years go by...
Enduring wind and rain,
Dark earth warms the seed unseen,
And springing yellows turn to green.
Then with the summer we are emboldened
As we grow
Not old,
But golden.

And time is flowing in us all.
A stream from mountain top to waterfall
That swiftly runs...
Through ice and snow and sun,
Over rock and scree,
Through woods and valleys to the sea.
And life behoves us now, in the richness
It bestows
To flow
Both deep and slow.

And there is music in the air;
The echo in our hearts beats stronger there, and never dies...
The songs of love and lies
Can touch the hardest heart
And tear the truest soul apart.
But songs of sorrow and bittersweetness
Tune our souls to the key
Of eternity

And now, dear, all I know is this...
That heaven comes to earth in your fond kiss,
This world made new
With all my heart I love,
Long as this short life shall last,
And write such lines of sweet adoration That delights in our future and the past.

© Jennifer Bell

And So To Bedlam:
There was a time when it was considered 'entertainment' to drop in at your local asylum and see the inmates in their madness. This is a song from one of the residents.
And So To Bedlam

Here be dreams my lovelies
Look at all the fancies
I have in this tattered pocket,
So pretty, I'll spill them to view,
See what they show,
So behold these fine knacks
See what visions they conjure up for you
And look closely; and listen,
A word in your ear, you'll end up here.

And so to Bedlam welcome all
And let us a-dancing go
With arms akimbo
And hair a-flying
And see the ladies swoon away
At this small affray
I will tell your fortune, dear,
For nothing, I like your ribbons

Here be dreams...

Fine lady, don't you look so wan,
You see, there is little need to be afeared,
My mind is clear,
Just coloured up with too much life,
And a trifle Wayward, so after all
We are so very alike it seems

Here be dreams...

And so to Bedlam we repair
When all of the lovelies have gone back to town
We hunker down And happy for another day
Till the ladies come by
To view our madnesses For we are the crazy ones.
Entertained, they shriek and faint
To show us how they must be sane.

Who is sane in Bedlam?

© Jennifer Bell

Winter's My Lover:
Thinking about the story of 'The Snow Queen'...the shard of ice in the heart that grows till there is nothing left.
Might this not actually be a very peaceful existence?
Winter’s my Lover

Season of icefall
My heart is frozen over.
Snow courts and woos us all,
But winter’s my lover.

White out around me
There’s nothing in the mirror;
See what you want to see
Winter’s my lover.

You thought you’d mapped me
But the tracks are going nowhere;
Strange and mysteriously
Winter’s my lover.

Perfect the silence
Encasing me forever,
No movement there or thence;
Winter’s my lover.

No pain, no bloodstains
My wounds are healing over,
Ice crystals in my veins;
Winter’s my lover.

All things conspire
And you will not discover
The stillness I desire;
The touch of a frozen fire
That’s turning me to quicksilver -
Winter’s my lover.

© Jennifer Bell

The Little Nut Tree: 12 string guitar
A sequel to the nursery rhyme…the little nut tree (silver nutmeg and golden pear) has relocated to the King of Spain’s daughter’s garden, where it isn’t doing too well.
The little nut tree

The nut tree grows in the garden of
The King of Spain’s daughter so well
She tends it every day with love
And morning dew herself.

The nut tree’s leaves are gleaming;
There’s a harvest a-glittering there,
A hundred silver nutmegs,
But still no golden pear.

She took my tree, and my
Tree will have its revenge

She has no other pleasures, for
The garden is her only care,
But never since the tree was mine has it
Carried a golden pear.

She has 5 hundred nutmegs,
So much more than you could ever need,
But covets that one golden globe
That grew upon my tree.

She asked the Queen her mother
What can I do that I ought to do?
The nut tree’s laden with nutmegs
But no golden pear will grow.

Daughter, dearest daughter
There’s only one thing can be done;
The tree is crying out for food-
A meal of blood and bone.

The daughter of the King of Spain
Went out into the garden and cried.
She knew of none that could be had
She wasted away and died.

And they buried her beneath its roots
When the branches were barren and bare,
And the tree flourished and bore not
Nutmegs, but hundreds of golden pears.

She took my tree,
And my tree has had its revenge.

© Jennifer Bell

Farewell to Boston: 12 string guitar and fiddle
A song about the Pilgrim Fathers - about to leave England for the New Land on the Mayflower, anticipating the 400th Anniversary in 2020.
Farewell to Boston

Farewell to Boston and our home
Farewell to all we now hold dear
Yet safe in God’s hands we can say
Farewell to tribulations here.

There is a place where we can dwell
In freedom though our trials be great
We’ll leave this plot of ill-content
For the promised land where God awaits.

O come with us, O pure of heart
Freedom of worship is our cry
And God will bless the children of the fathers
In the new land, in the new land by and by.

And cross the water we must go
Through tempest, storm and flood and fright
‘Gainst mortal death we have no fear
Secure in the hope of eternal life.

As Pilgrims we will mercy find
Though our faith be as a grain of sand
And God will wipe our tears away
When we get to the Promised Land.

For we will not bow down and serve
The false church in its wayward ways
The devil finds words for wilful tongues
And leads the weaker souls astray

And though we are but sinful men
We keep God’s truth and righteousness
And scorn your vain ungodly ways
And go where our zeal for the Lord
Will be blessed.

America is the soil for our seed;
It will flourish, come what may
And we will reap a harvest of
Salvation at the end of days.

© Jennifer Bell

The New Mistletoe Bough: 12 string guitar and fiddle
Based on the trad song that tells the legend of the bride who, on her wedding day plays hide and seek - finding a chest in a distant room of the house, but isn’t found, and can’t get out…with unfortunate long term results. It’s claimed to be based on fact by several country houses, one of which was Exton in Rutland (now demolished.) The song addresses some issues and resolves a few of them, it even has a happy ending if you like revenge.
The New Mistletoe Bough

This is my Wedding Day,
And we are having such fun,
I found a chest in the attic,
Up in the tower at Exton.,

You said, let us play hide and seek
We all gladly agreed
But I’ve been hiding for hours,
And no-one is coming to find me.

Kisses or curses, just look at me now,
Oh the Bough of the Mistletoe,
How can I keep all my wedding vows

I heard voices not far away,
Calling, Oh where can she be,
It will be such a surprise when they
Open the chest and they find me.

Later, I heard my love whisper
I know you’re hiding in there,
But I married you for your money
And you can stay locked in for ever.

Kisses or curses…

My silver dress is now tarnished,
My beauty is over and done,
My life has long been extinguished
Locked in this coffin at Exton

Years came and went as I waited,
Time oh so silently passed,
Then one day, when all was forgotten
My love came to me at last…

Kisses or curses…

He said, lifting the lid to see me
“Such a shame, your beauty is dead,
But I have your house and your land
And today I have married again” he said.

Then, as he turned away laughing
By mischance, by some strange endeavour
He fell,
Into my arms…
And the lid closed, and we are together.

Kisses and curses, just look at us now
Oh the Bough of the Mistletoe,
Now I can keep all my wedding vows
Kisses and curses, just look at me now…
I may be withered and dead
But welcome at last to our wedding bed.

© Jennifer Bell

Ashes in the Rain: flute and 12 string guitar
A miserable song that could reflect a battle lost, a relationship ended or business gone bad…but starting to look to walk away from the situation.
Ashes in the Rain

This is where all the rainbows end,
It’s the graveyard of our dreams,
Where the watercolours fade
To shades of grey.
Here is the field of all the slain,
Where we watched our future die,
Where it lost its fight for life
And bled away.

I will not forget,
But I will not remain.
Time has closed a door;
I won’t open it again.
Beauty doesn’t last,
Life is full of pain;
Still I’m looking for a living fire,
Not ashes in the rain.

I will not stay to fall and drown
In the many pools of tears,
Or be swept away by
Streams of bitterness.
Once we were confident and sure
We were going to change the world,
Now there’s nothing here for me
But emptiness

We are the ghosts of things gone by;
We’ve been trapped in memories,
We’ve been haunting, and been
Haunted by this place.
I’m here to say one last goodbye,
Then I’m going to walk away
I have nothing left to lose
But these my chains.

© Jennifer Bell

Colours of Harmony: lute and voices
A song remembering what it was like to fall in love with lute music …and the lutenist.
Colours of Harmony

I watched you then
Entranced, the notes that you played
Were my heart as in a mirror...
How should I then discern
Which was man or muse? All was
Music, song and singer.

And you took the tune at first,
And I played the ground
And my heart was bursting within me
And all the time I could hear
The music of heaven
Falling softly around me

And I’m painting the colours of harmony,
And I think this is where I belong.
For sometimes the music of love
Lives on, even after the singers have gone.

When the music plays
My heart is moved and stirred
With sweet intentions.
Let me trace the streams of harmony
To the source of love’s invention.


Now we play no more,
For the strings are worn,
But the music still sounds sweetly,
And the lovers’ airs will not fade away
Till our breath gives out


© Jennifer Bell

Oh Boy!: 12 string guitar and fiddle
A song based very very loosely on real life…a boy did pick on me when I was 10 (but he was that sort of boy - I don’t think I was singled out) and I did see him on a bus when I was 14 and …mmmm But I didn’t follow it up. And I don’t know what he thought about me.
Oh Boy!

When we were young you picked on me
You pulled my hair in history
You threw my shoes into a tree, but
Oh boy, just look at you now,
Wow! Oh boy, just look at you now.

You were the snot-nosed kid from down the street
With spots and scurf and 2 left feet
Who tried to give me worms to eat
Oh boy, just look at you now,
Wow! Oh boy, just look at you now.

Can I hold your hand?
Can I talk to you?
Can I look into your eyes
And drown there too?
I can’t stop thinking ‘bout you anyhow,
Oh boy, just look at you now,
Wow! Oh boy, just look at you now.

I’d have never thought you’d turn out like this
With eyes that smile and a mouth to kiss
Evolution just made a leap I guess
Oh boy, just look at you now
Wow! Oh boy, just look at you now.

I’d have walked a mile to avoid you then
You were a pain in the neck now I’m thinking again
If I walked out now I would be insane
Oh boy, just look at you now,
Wow! Oh boy, just look at you now.


(and the Boy replies)

You were asking for trouble
And that’s what you got.
But in secret I was smitten and I
Liked you a lot,
And boys crave attention when they
Think a girl’s hot
But oh boy, just look at you now
Wow, oh boy, just look at you now!

You were easy to tease and
Temptation was strong
Sitting next to me with your
Hair that long
And I’ll kiss you if you want
If you’ll shut up with the song
Oh boy, just look at you now,
Wow, oh boy, just look at you now.

Can I hold your hand?
Can I talk to you?
Can I look into your eyes
And drown there too?
I can’t stop thinking ‘bout you anyhow,
Oh boy, just look at you now,
Wow! Oh boy, just look at you now.

© Jennifer Bell

Call of the Wild: 12 string guitar and flute
The reverse of the ‘I’m a rambler’ songs; this is the response of the one who’s left at home when the man goes off walking…
Call of the Wild

There’s a man I know whose eyes are
On the far horizon,
His feet upon the open road,
When he sees the mountains beckon.
All he needs for comfort
Is the warmth of sun on stone,
And the wind from the moor
Delights the marrow of his bones.

And the call of the wild gets louder
As the man I know gets older,
Till the longing for the never-ending road
Is all he knows.

There’s a man I know who hears the
Music of the wilderness.
It sings sweetly to him,
And it fills his heart with gentleness.
Underneath the stars he lies and
Sleepwalks through his dreams,
And moonshine lights his ways and
Watches over him.

And the call of the wild...

© Jennifer Bell

The Lincoln Imp: 12 string guitar and fiddle
There is a legend in Lincolnshire that the little stone gargoyle in Lincoln Cathedral called 'The Lincoln Imp' was originally a real demon who'd set out to make trouble, but was thwarted (eventually) by the choir of angels who sang there. This is one of the versions of the story - with a few tweaks to obtain interesting rhymes.
The Lincoln Imp

Down in Ingoldmells the demons were raising hell
All with malice unconfined
Pranks provocations, bile and belligerence,
Wickedness to mastermind
Oh let us go into the world
And tease and torment human kind
And all the demons in Lincolnshire
Were of one evil mind
And all....

They raised a mighty wind that blew them
From the Lincolnshire coast,
And the demons were borne upon the storm
And where they went they caused a fuss
The milk to sour, and the plough to rust
And all the demons in Lincolnshre
Would see who could frighten the most.
And all...

And the wind to Lincoln wild and loud and it
Howled and seethed and shrieked and roared
And one little devil tumbled out of the thunder
Through Lincoln's new cathedral door
What's this he thought I'll have some sport
And this diversion I shall enjoy..
The angels singing in the heavenly choir
I shall pester and annoy.'
The angels...

And the priest and people there praising
God Were troubled in their souls
They prayed and called upon the Lord
To come and save them
To make them brave and
Deliver them from the fiend from hell
And all the people in Lincoln cathedral cried
'Heaven help us all.'
And all...

And the imp.
Prised the stone eyes from a gargoyle's head,
And his teeth and bits of fingers;
said he 'I need these stones for my sport and fun,
Old friend I need them more than thee.'
And he threw them at the angel choir
With evil glee and malevolence
And all the angels in the choir were struck
By his impertinence.
And all...

Then round the walls and round the towers
The angels hunted him down
And the priest and people prayed with groans
That angelic might should defeat the sprite
And make him wish he'd never left home
Then all the angels in the heavenly choir
Caught the imp and they turned him to stone.
Then all...

And centuries may have passed him by,
But the imp's still there in stone to see,
And priest and people and all you folk
Can live in Lincoln peacefully
So seek God's face and heaven's grace
And study your theology
And with all the people in Lincoln cathedral
Sing 'Laudate angeli'
And with...


© Jennifer Bell

All Things Must Pass: Lute
Words adapted from the Bible: 1 Corinthians 13 (the passage that’s often read at weddings) put to Thomas Tallis’s 3rd Mode Melody, accompanied on the lute, arrangement by Chris Bell. I’ve also written a secular version – a very happy song about love through the seasons; ‘High Degree’
All things must pass

All things must pass and fade at last
This flesh and blood decay.
But hear the Word of God and know
There is a better way.

For faith, hope and love,
These will remain;
Pure gifts from God above –
When all else is gone,
These three will go on
And the best of all is love.

I trust in God, my faith is true
I’ll hope until the end,
I know that I have been redeemed
By Christ, my Lord and friend.

For faith….

For words of all will silent fall
And prophecies will cease
And though we now know God in part
We will see face to face.

For faith….

© Jennifer Bell

If you have a great product to sell or service to offer we are probably not interested, but if you would like to contact Jennifer with regard to her music please complete the form below. All the songs are copyright Jennifer Bell and registered for PRS. Jennifer is happy for the songs to be sung on a non-commercial basis and to be credited as the songwriter, but any recorded or commercial use must be authorised.
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With thanks to Mike Robinson (Longrow Studio) Steve Phillips (Muzostream) and Phil Preen (Poppy Folk Club)
All songs are copyright Jennifer Bell and registered for PRS. I’m happy for the songs to be sung on a non-commercial basis and to be credited as the songwriter, but any recorded or commercial use must be authorised. Please contact me:
Contact Jennifer Bell