Friday, December 9, 2016


History of the First Christmas Carols-

Good Afternoon my dear Friends and Followers. For today’s post, I thought I would travel through the history of Christmas Carols. I have always tried to find interesting things about the history of Christmas Traditions and Christmas Carols is one that I haven’t touch on…So I hope that you enjoy the Post.

The First Know Christmas Carol was traced to the 4th century Rome. They were, Latin hymns (Veni redemptor gentium) written by Ambrose, Archbishop of Milan. These were austere statements of the theological doctrine of the Incarnation in opposition to Arianism. Of the Father’s heart, begotten (Corde natus ex Parentis) written by the Spanish poet Prudentius is still sung in some churches even today!
In the 9th & 10th centuries the Christmas ‘Sequence-Prose’ was introduced in the Northern European monasteries, which developed the ‘Bernard of Clairvaux’ into a sequence of rhymed called ‘Stanzas’. By the 12th century, is when popular songs were introduced to something closer to the traditional Christmas Carols of today. It was a Parisian Monk -Adam of St. Victor who had derived music from popular songs into traditional Christmas Carols. And so, it began with an idea from a Parisian Monk in the 12th century.
Now were into the 13th century and France, Germany and particularly Italy under the influence of Francis of Assisi a strong tradition of popular Christmas songs in its regional native languages had developed These Christmas songs. In 1426 is when the first Christmas Carols in English appeared, as the works of John Awdlay a Shropshire chaplain who lists 25 ‘Carols of Christmas’ which were probably sung by groups of ‘Wassailers’, who went from house to house during that time. For me that is the beginning of Christmas carols – house to house…It would seem that the songs that we know specifically as the Christmas Carols -were originally communal songs sung during celebrations like that of harvest tide as well as at Christmas time…It was only later that the Christmas carols began to be sung in the church and to be specifically associated with the Christmas season. By the year 1582 many of the Christmas Carols had gained popularity and were printed in the late 1500’ in Piae Cantiones a collection of the late medieval Latin songs which were all published in 1582 gained popularity today! There were early forms of Latin Carols such as ‘Christ was born on Christmas Day’, “Good Christian Men’, ‘Rejoice’, & ‘Good King Wenceslas’ can be found in the collection of the Medieval Latin songs published in 1582.
In the mid-18th century ‘Adeste Fideles’ (‘O Come all ye faithful’) appears in its current form, although the words may have it originated wording of the 13th century. Plus, the origin of the tune is disputed too. It would seem that these Christmas carols gained in popularity after the Reformation of the countries when the Protestant churches gained prominence-as well-known as reformers like Martin Luther authored carols and encouraged their use in worship. This was a consequence of the fact that the Lutheran reformation warmly welcomed all music. This happens to be a 19th Century Carol book such as a Christmas Carols, New and old 1871…
In the Christmas 19th Christmas Carol Book for the first time in print appeared – [God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen", The First Noel , Ships”, Hark]-  Were in the Christmas Carols Ancient and Modern book by Williams Sandys in 1833. There were other composers during that time that helped with the Christmas carol become be popularized too. These were Arthur Sullivan who gave us ‘Good Kings Wenceslas’ and It Came Upon the Midnight Clear’. There were others such as Edmund H. Sears & Richard S. Willis.  The publication of Christmas Carols New and old by Henry Ramsden Bramley and Sir John Stainer in 1871 truly was significant to the Christmas carols in Victorian Britain. However, in the year 1916, Charles Lewis Hutchins who published the ‘Carols Old and carols New once again as a scholarly Collection for all didn’t do well. Sadly, it suffered from a shortage of printing during that time and consequently the copy is rarely available today or even found! Then the Oxford Book of Carols was first published in 1928. It was done by the Oxford University Press, which was said to be notably successful with its collection of Christmas carols. Its main source for the book was Grand British composers ‘Martin Shaw, Ralph Vaughan Williams, author Percy Dearmer and a wide source of carols in many choirs and church congregations throughout Britain. The book is still in print in the 21th century…
As we roll into the 20th century singing Christmas carols became more and more popularized. It would seem that one of the most popular of the Caroling books around was an English-speaking book called, ‘Carols for Choirs’.  It was first published in the year `1961. The people who, were involved in the project; was David Willcocks and Reginald Jacques. The ‘Carols for Choirs’ had become a bestseller series since the explanation to a five-volume set when it was first published in 1961. Today Christmas carols are usually sung at Christian religious services however, this is only one opinion from the research that I have found. I am sure that all over the world the many different regions of the many churches and non-church faith have beautiful ways of singing Christmas carols in their countries around the world to celebrate their god that gives them peace-love and salvation. There are some Carols that are composted which are clearly not with a religious theme but have great meaning to the people & are still referred to Carols of the Christmas season. For an example of these type of songs, on was the {wassailing song, Greensleeves, What Child is This?} These were written in the 16th & the late 18th century as Christmas related lyrics for the traditional English folk songs for popular Christmas Carols. The Singing of Carols in the Church was instituted on Christmas Eve in 1880. It was in the Truro Cathedral in Cornwall. Now Carols are seen all over the world in churches…The songs that were chosen for singing in church at the time omitted the Wassailing Carols. Then shortly before 1878, the Salvation Army under Charles Fry instituted the idea of playing Carols at Christmas using a Brass band. It would seem that very little research has ever been conducted on Carol singing but one of the few sociological studies of caroling in the early 21th century determined that eh sources of the songs are often very misunderstood. Now this is what I remember as a child of the 70’s.  To what Christmas Caroling was all about in my Youth. It seems that it has faded out with all the electronic future too sadly. I think it all started in England and a few other countries such as Poland, Romania and Bulgaria. Within these countries, they had a tradition of Christmas caroling that was earlier than the song Wassailing, written between the 16th century & 18th centuries. These groups of singers would travel from house to house singing the Carols at each, for which they are often rewarded with gifts, money, mince pies or even a glass of an appropriate beverage. Money collected in this way is now given to charity. Carols can be sung by individual’s singers, but are also often sung by larger groups including professionally trained choirs too. Most churches have special services at which they will sing the Christmas carols. Generally, will be combined with reading from scripture about the birth of Christ.

So, the question is…Why have Christmas Carols stuck around so long? There are many things to consider…While there are many wonderful Christmas Carols from the past, there are still a few Yuletide Carols of the modern times. Such as; ‘Jungle Bells’, ‘Do you Hear What I hear?’, ’It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year’ ‘Baby, Its Cold Outside’. However, there are some that aren’t’ so festive like that of;’ I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus’ &’Dominick the Donkey’.

Today, the important fact about the Christmas Carol, is they are only about Christmas. Listeners are faced with the distinguishing them between the sacred songs-the secular church ones of long ago-and the modern Christmas carol songs. In the 21th century the Christmas carol, speaks of the ‘Christmas spirt’ and having Christmas Carols separate from the Church Carols…
This is how I have always remembered Christmas carols as a child and now as an adult. I hope you all enjoyed the history of the Christmas Carol. Love you all my dears

Your Wendy love and peace

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