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Stodole Pumpa


Originally a Czech folk song, this tune is apparently very popular in the USA amongst for school and scout singalongs etc. There are various versions of the verses, but they all describe (in one way or another) two young sweethearts spending time with each other before the chorus kicks in at a much faster tempo.

Stodole Pompa translates as 'Barn Pump' and there seem to be several interpretations of how the chorus, which repeats the phrase several times, relates to the verses. One version is that the two young lovers are at a fair and the boisterous oompah band keeps interrupting their romantic time together; another is that a young man who is supposed to be working pumping water is lost in a daydream about the time he's spent with his lover before his boss starts having a go at him for slacking and he resumes pumping in earnest.

Both explanations are sweet and exactly what you'd tell a troupe of mid-western scouts if you had to, but there is, of course, a more, shall we say metaphorical explanation for the repeated 'pumping' of the chorus. It may even be that 'Stodole Pumpa' is the Czech equivalent of 'hammer and tongs' or some such. Czech speakers, do write in!

The version that we do was arranged and recorded by the Robert Shaw Corale in 1960. The sudden speeding up after a slow opening verse reminded Steve Roser, fine second tenor of this parish, of this, which was recorded in 1956, so maybe Mr Shaw was (consciously or unconsciously) influenced. The Robert Shaw arrangement is famous internationally and has been done by this Korean choir and by these fellas, who I think are Peruvian (or are at least, singing it in Peru). The version American schoolchildren sing sounds more like this or this. This children's string version is either very cute or terribly grating - you decide! The tune was used as the original ice cream truck jingle and was sampled (or the pre-electronic equivalent - probably involving cutting up tape with razor blades) on this comedy album from 1971. I haven't listened to the whole thing, so I can't say whether or not you should.

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