Caroling, Caroling in the Regency

This little screed on Christmas music comes about because I don't listen to Nastycatcommercial radio.  That is because such channels are full of people trying to sell me used cars or banking services or beer and after a while I want to go over and beat my radio to death with a stick.

But durn it, at Christmas I want to listen to Christmas music, so I ventured out into the musical world beyond PBS.  And it was painful.  After I had not beaten my radio to flinders for several days, ('Flinders' is a fine old word, popular in the Regency, and it means splinters or fragments.  It's of Dutch or Scandinavian origin and always plural.) I decided to compile a playlist and the heck with the radio.

But all that got me thinking about Christmas carols.

Gittern_dancing_late-medieval-early1400s_detaThere have always been songs and dances celebrating the winter solstice and, indeed, all the other high points of life in the community.  (The word 'carol' originally meant  a circle dance.)  Christmas songs, sung in the local language, go back to the Middle Ages.  A Shropshire chaplain listed twenty-five 'caroles of Christmas' in 1426.  Go Shropshire chaplain.

So I got to wondering which Christmas carols my Regency characters might have sung.

We got some oldies and goodies.

The Latin words to Adeste Fideles go way back.  Medieval.  The music we still use today dates from 1751. This is a true living fossil, this song.  My Regency folks could have belted out this
Gillray-Harmony-before-Matrimony 1805-w carol in Latin and it would have sounded entirely familiar to us. 

The English words, however, are Victorian.  Maybe  my folks translated their own homegrown English version.

According to one theory, Adeste Fideles was a particular favorite of Jacobite sympathizers. Jacobites saw the song as symbolically calling those faithful to Prince Charles.  The Regem angelorum — King of the Angels — well, that could be sung as Regem anglorum — King of the English — couldn't it?

God Rest Ye Merry , Gentlemen is another very old carol.  The lyrics pop up about 1650 as 'Sit ye, Merry Gentlemen'.  The words were sung to a variety of tunes in Georgian and Regency times, but one of those variations was our modern version.

God Rest Ye and another old favorite, I Saw Three Ships Come Sailing In, were often printed together In Eighteenth Century broadsides.  They were sort of the Billboard Favorites of their day.  Definitely our Regency folks would have known them.
Mj Master of the St Lucy. Musician Angels detail c 1480
A traditional carol that's older than I would have guessed is The First Noel.  (Noel being French for Christmas, the French having taken it from the Latin natalis meaning birthday and, no, I don't think those two words sound much alike.)  The First Noel was published in an 1823 collection as a traditional Cornish carol, so likely it was bopping around the British Isles in the Regency.

Joy to the World.  The lyrics are from 1719.  The tune, alas, is later than the Regency.  Our characters sing to a different drummer, as it were.  Since we don't provide soundtracks to the books, we don't need to mention that. 

Christmas puddingAnd finally, we got The Twelve Days of Christmas, which has always struck me as one of the weirder traditional songs.  I mean — rings, fine.  Lords a leaping I can get behind.  But what is it with the pear tree?  Why is there a partridge in it?  What does it all mean

Well, it turns out TTDoC didn't exactly enter England as a Christmas carol.  It made the leap into English in 1780, probably from French, where it seems to have been a song of some antiquity.  In England TTDoC was offered as a Twelfth Night forfeits game.  A leader would start out with a verse and folks repeated it. Then he added verse after verse and everyone tried to repeat them till one of the players made a mistake — probably forgot those seven swans aswimming — and owed a forfeit. 

The forfeit?  It depends on the story, of course … but I think it'll be kisses under the mistletoe.  

105 thoughts on “Caroling, Caroling in the Regency”

  1. I do love carols. The Holly and the Ivy and The Cherry Tree Carol are a couple more that would have been around back in the Regency period.
    Do you suppose they had any of the comic kind like Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer or All I Want For Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth? After all, they weren’t a particularly staid or Puritanical bunch. On the other hand, they might still have considered Christmas a religious celebration entitled to a bit of dignity.

    Reply
  2. I do love carols. The Holly and the Ivy and The Cherry Tree Carol are a couple more that would have been around back in the Regency period.
    Do you suppose they had any of the comic kind like Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer or All I Want For Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth? After all, they weren’t a particularly staid or Puritanical bunch. On the other hand, they might still have considered Christmas a religious celebration entitled to a bit of dignity.

    Reply
  3. I do love carols. The Holly and the Ivy and The Cherry Tree Carol are a couple more that would have been around back in the Regency period.
    Do you suppose they had any of the comic kind like Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer or All I Want For Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth? After all, they weren’t a particularly staid or Puritanical bunch. On the other hand, they might still have considered Christmas a religious celebration entitled to a bit of dignity.

    Reply
  4. I do love carols. The Holly and the Ivy and The Cherry Tree Carol are a couple more that would have been around back in the Regency period.
    Do you suppose they had any of the comic kind like Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer or All I Want For Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth? After all, they weren’t a particularly staid or Puritanical bunch. On the other hand, they might still have considered Christmas a religious celebration entitled to a bit of dignity.

    Reply
  5. I do love carols. The Holly and the Ivy and The Cherry Tree Carol are a couple more that would have been around back in the Regency period.
    Do you suppose they had any of the comic kind like Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer or All I Want For Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth? After all, they weren’t a particularly staid or Puritanical bunch. On the other hand, they might still have considered Christmas a religious celebration entitled to a bit of dignity.

    Reply
  6. Hi Jane —
    They had plenty of carols we don’t sing any more. Old carols that fell out of use. Songs suppressed by Cromwell that never got started up again. They find evidence of them in the Eighteenth Century broadsides and in contemporary scholarly manuscripts. All those ardent clergymen out recording the old traditions before they disappeared.
    Even when the words have been preserved, we generally don’t know the tunes. There’ll be a note, ‘sung to the tune of an old French carol’ which is not exactly helpful. And there wasn’t just one tune. There were lots of variation. Lots of local versions.
    Old carols were often assigned musical notation in Victorian times. Sometimes we get one or more of the original variations. Sometimes there’d be a new composition.
    The Holly and the Ivy comes to us from many sources. Our modern version is selected from myriad strands of words and music.
    Joy to the World, on the other hand, is a ‘written’ carol, based on church music and Psalm 98, rather than one arising from pagan tradition and Medieval song contests. We know the author and the date, 1719. The music was also composed rather than selected from local customs. It’s an 1839 piece, based in part on Handal.
    You were right to selected the two traditional songs you did. They would indeed have been part of the characters’ repertoire.
    The lyrics of The Holly and the Ivy appear in a 1710 collection. It’s certainly much older. The Cherry Tree Carol is likely early Fifteenth Century.
    I imagine they had light comic songs for the season — The Twelve Days of Christmas is an example we’ve got handy. I’d guess, though, that the lighter songs were associated with New Years and Twelfth Night rather than Christmas. Even today, in Europe, the big, noisy celebration is associated with New Years rather than Christmas itself.

    Reply
  7. Hi Jane —
    They had plenty of carols we don’t sing any more. Old carols that fell out of use. Songs suppressed by Cromwell that never got started up again. They find evidence of them in the Eighteenth Century broadsides and in contemporary scholarly manuscripts. All those ardent clergymen out recording the old traditions before they disappeared.
    Even when the words have been preserved, we generally don’t know the tunes. There’ll be a note, ‘sung to the tune of an old French carol’ which is not exactly helpful. And there wasn’t just one tune. There were lots of variation. Lots of local versions.
    Old carols were often assigned musical notation in Victorian times. Sometimes we get one or more of the original variations. Sometimes there’d be a new composition.
    The Holly and the Ivy comes to us from many sources. Our modern version is selected from myriad strands of words and music.
    Joy to the World, on the other hand, is a ‘written’ carol, based on church music and Psalm 98, rather than one arising from pagan tradition and Medieval song contests. We know the author and the date, 1719. The music was also composed rather than selected from local customs. It’s an 1839 piece, based in part on Handal.
    You were right to selected the two traditional songs you did. They would indeed have been part of the characters’ repertoire.
    The lyrics of The Holly and the Ivy appear in a 1710 collection. It’s certainly much older. The Cherry Tree Carol is likely early Fifteenth Century.
    I imagine they had light comic songs for the season — The Twelve Days of Christmas is an example we’ve got handy. I’d guess, though, that the lighter songs were associated with New Years and Twelfth Night rather than Christmas. Even today, in Europe, the big, noisy celebration is associated with New Years rather than Christmas itself.

    Reply
  8. Hi Jane —
    They had plenty of carols we don’t sing any more. Old carols that fell out of use. Songs suppressed by Cromwell that never got started up again. They find evidence of them in the Eighteenth Century broadsides and in contemporary scholarly manuscripts. All those ardent clergymen out recording the old traditions before they disappeared.
    Even when the words have been preserved, we generally don’t know the tunes. There’ll be a note, ‘sung to the tune of an old French carol’ which is not exactly helpful. And there wasn’t just one tune. There were lots of variation. Lots of local versions.
    Old carols were often assigned musical notation in Victorian times. Sometimes we get one or more of the original variations. Sometimes there’d be a new composition.
    The Holly and the Ivy comes to us from many sources. Our modern version is selected from myriad strands of words and music.
    Joy to the World, on the other hand, is a ‘written’ carol, based on church music and Psalm 98, rather than one arising from pagan tradition and Medieval song contests. We know the author and the date, 1719. The music was also composed rather than selected from local customs. It’s an 1839 piece, based in part on Handal.
    You were right to selected the two traditional songs you did. They would indeed have been part of the characters’ repertoire.
    The lyrics of The Holly and the Ivy appear in a 1710 collection. It’s certainly much older. The Cherry Tree Carol is likely early Fifteenth Century.
    I imagine they had light comic songs for the season — The Twelve Days of Christmas is an example we’ve got handy. I’d guess, though, that the lighter songs were associated with New Years and Twelfth Night rather than Christmas. Even today, in Europe, the big, noisy celebration is associated with New Years rather than Christmas itself.

    Reply
  9. Hi Jane —
    They had plenty of carols we don’t sing any more. Old carols that fell out of use. Songs suppressed by Cromwell that never got started up again. They find evidence of them in the Eighteenth Century broadsides and in contemporary scholarly manuscripts. All those ardent clergymen out recording the old traditions before they disappeared.
    Even when the words have been preserved, we generally don’t know the tunes. There’ll be a note, ‘sung to the tune of an old French carol’ which is not exactly helpful. And there wasn’t just one tune. There were lots of variation. Lots of local versions.
    Old carols were often assigned musical notation in Victorian times. Sometimes we get one or more of the original variations. Sometimes there’d be a new composition.
    The Holly and the Ivy comes to us from many sources. Our modern version is selected from myriad strands of words and music.
    Joy to the World, on the other hand, is a ‘written’ carol, based on church music and Psalm 98, rather than one arising from pagan tradition and Medieval song contests. We know the author and the date, 1719. The music was also composed rather than selected from local customs. It’s an 1839 piece, based in part on Handal.
    You were right to selected the two traditional songs you did. They would indeed have been part of the characters’ repertoire.
    The lyrics of The Holly and the Ivy appear in a 1710 collection. It’s certainly much older. The Cherry Tree Carol is likely early Fifteenth Century.
    I imagine they had light comic songs for the season — The Twelve Days of Christmas is an example we’ve got handy. I’d guess, though, that the lighter songs were associated with New Years and Twelfth Night rather than Christmas. Even today, in Europe, the big, noisy celebration is associated with New Years rather than Christmas itself.

    Reply
  10. Hi Jane —
    They had plenty of carols we don’t sing any more. Old carols that fell out of use. Songs suppressed by Cromwell that never got started up again. They find evidence of them in the Eighteenth Century broadsides and in contemporary scholarly manuscripts. All those ardent clergymen out recording the old traditions before they disappeared.
    Even when the words have been preserved, we generally don’t know the tunes. There’ll be a note, ‘sung to the tune of an old French carol’ which is not exactly helpful. And there wasn’t just one tune. There were lots of variation. Lots of local versions.
    Old carols were often assigned musical notation in Victorian times. Sometimes we get one or more of the original variations. Sometimes there’d be a new composition.
    The Holly and the Ivy comes to us from many sources. Our modern version is selected from myriad strands of words and music.
    Joy to the World, on the other hand, is a ‘written’ carol, based on church music and Psalm 98, rather than one arising from pagan tradition and Medieval song contests. We know the author and the date, 1719. The music was also composed rather than selected from local customs. It’s an 1839 piece, based in part on Handal.
    You were right to selected the two traditional songs you did. They would indeed have been part of the characters’ repertoire.
    The lyrics of The Holly and the Ivy appear in a 1710 collection. It’s certainly much older. The Cherry Tree Carol is likely early Fifteenth Century.
    I imagine they had light comic songs for the season — The Twelve Days of Christmas is an example we’ve got handy. I’d guess, though, that the lighter songs were associated with New Years and Twelfth Night rather than Christmas. Even today, in Europe, the big, noisy celebration is associated with New Years rather than Christmas itself.

    Reply
  11. Fascinating post, Joanna. You are braver than I. I never venture beyond public radio during the holidays as most of the Christmas music the other stations play depresses me, irks me or makes me want to scream! Fortunately I have a large CD collection of Christmas music from which to select.
    It seems lyricists were far more prolific than melodists throughout much of history as any given tune might have have three or even four sets of lyrics depending on the locale and the season.

    Reply
  12. Fascinating post, Joanna. You are braver than I. I never venture beyond public radio during the holidays as most of the Christmas music the other stations play depresses me, irks me or makes me want to scream! Fortunately I have a large CD collection of Christmas music from which to select.
    It seems lyricists were far more prolific than melodists throughout much of history as any given tune might have have three or even four sets of lyrics depending on the locale and the season.

    Reply
  13. Fascinating post, Joanna. You are braver than I. I never venture beyond public radio during the holidays as most of the Christmas music the other stations play depresses me, irks me or makes me want to scream! Fortunately I have a large CD collection of Christmas music from which to select.
    It seems lyricists were far more prolific than melodists throughout much of history as any given tune might have have three or even four sets of lyrics depending on the locale and the season.

    Reply
  14. Fascinating post, Joanna. You are braver than I. I never venture beyond public radio during the holidays as most of the Christmas music the other stations play depresses me, irks me or makes me want to scream! Fortunately I have a large CD collection of Christmas music from which to select.
    It seems lyricists were far more prolific than melodists throughout much of history as any given tune might have have three or even four sets of lyrics depending on the locale and the season.

    Reply
  15. Fascinating post, Joanna. You are braver than I. I never venture beyond public radio during the holidays as most of the Christmas music the other stations play depresses me, irks me or makes me want to scream! Fortunately I have a large CD collection of Christmas music from which to select.
    It seems lyricists were far more prolific than melodists throughout much of history as any given tune might have have three or even four sets of lyrics depending on the locale and the season.

    Reply
  16. I hear you on the commercial radio stations. It’s not Christmas-y to stomp over and snarl, “Stop it! Just stop it!’ at inanimate objects.
    As to the lyrics versus melody … I know I can carry and reproduce huge amounts of rhyming words, but I wouldn’t count on myself to remember and transmit music reliably. Are there a lotta people like me, I wonder.

    Reply
  17. I hear you on the commercial radio stations. It’s not Christmas-y to stomp over and snarl, “Stop it! Just stop it!’ at inanimate objects.
    As to the lyrics versus melody … I know I can carry and reproduce huge amounts of rhyming words, but I wouldn’t count on myself to remember and transmit music reliably. Are there a lotta people like me, I wonder.

    Reply
  18. I hear you on the commercial radio stations. It’s not Christmas-y to stomp over and snarl, “Stop it! Just stop it!’ at inanimate objects.
    As to the lyrics versus melody … I know I can carry and reproduce huge amounts of rhyming words, but I wouldn’t count on myself to remember and transmit music reliably. Are there a lotta people like me, I wonder.

    Reply
  19. I hear you on the commercial radio stations. It’s not Christmas-y to stomp over and snarl, “Stop it! Just stop it!’ at inanimate objects.
    As to the lyrics versus melody … I know I can carry and reproduce huge amounts of rhyming words, but I wouldn’t count on myself to remember and transmit music reliably. Are there a lotta people like me, I wonder.

    Reply
  20. I hear you on the commercial radio stations. It’s not Christmas-y to stomp over and snarl, “Stop it! Just stop it!’ at inanimate objects.
    As to the lyrics versus melody … I know I can carry and reproduce huge amounts of rhyming words, but I wouldn’t count on myself to remember and transmit music reliably. Are there a lotta people like me, I wonder.

    Reply
  21. Joanna, how lovely! In my choir days in school, we learned the Latin verses of Adestes Fideles as well as the English. I didn’t realize that the English words we know were later, but in an age where every gentlement new Latin, I can easily imagine personal translations.
    I have lots of Christmas CDs–things like Celtic harp renditions of traditional carols, which I love. I also got a new car this year and it came with a Sirius XM radio, and it turns out that the Classical Pops station (75) plays Christmas music for almost all of December. There were bad renditions as well as good ones, but at least no commercials. *G*

    Reply
  22. Joanna, how lovely! In my choir days in school, we learned the Latin verses of Adestes Fideles as well as the English. I didn’t realize that the English words we know were later, but in an age where every gentlement new Latin, I can easily imagine personal translations.
    I have lots of Christmas CDs–things like Celtic harp renditions of traditional carols, which I love. I also got a new car this year and it came with a Sirius XM radio, and it turns out that the Classical Pops station (75) plays Christmas music for almost all of December. There were bad renditions as well as good ones, but at least no commercials. *G*

    Reply
  23. Joanna, how lovely! In my choir days in school, we learned the Latin verses of Adestes Fideles as well as the English. I didn’t realize that the English words we know were later, but in an age where every gentlement new Latin, I can easily imagine personal translations.
    I have lots of Christmas CDs–things like Celtic harp renditions of traditional carols, which I love. I also got a new car this year and it came with a Sirius XM radio, and it turns out that the Classical Pops station (75) plays Christmas music for almost all of December. There were bad renditions as well as good ones, but at least no commercials. *G*

    Reply
  24. Joanna, how lovely! In my choir days in school, we learned the Latin verses of Adestes Fideles as well as the English. I didn’t realize that the English words we know were later, but in an age where every gentlement new Latin, I can easily imagine personal translations.
    I have lots of Christmas CDs–things like Celtic harp renditions of traditional carols, which I love. I also got a new car this year and it came with a Sirius XM radio, and it turns out that the Classical Pops station (75) plays Christmas music for almost all of December. There were bad renditions as well as good ones, but at least no commercials. *G*

    Reply
  25. Joanna, how lovely! In my choir days in school, we learned the Latin verses of Adestes Fideles as well as the English. I didn’t realize that the English words we know were later, but in an age where every gentlement new Latin, I can easily imagine personal translations.
    I have lots of Christmas CDs–things like Celtic harp renditions of traditional carols, which I love. I also got a new car this year and it came with a Sirius XM radio, and it turns out that the Classical Pops station (75) plays Christmas music for almost all of December. There were bad renditions as well as good ones, but at least no commercials. *G*

    Reply
  26. I had glanced at the age of various carols before, back when I was doing that short story for Mischief and Mistletoe. I wanted to be certain my heroine could overhear folks singing God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen and she could.
    So when I was so annoyed at these stations not giving me the music I wanted, I went back to see what other carols were Regency.

    Reply
  27. I had glanced at the age of various carols before, back when I was doing that short story for Mischief and Mistletoe. I wanted to be certain my heroine could overhear folks singing God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen and she could.
    So when I was so annoyed at these stations not giving me the music I wanted, I went back to see what other carols were Regency.

    Reply
  28. I had glanced at the age of various carols before, back when I was doing that short story for Mischief and Mistletoe. I wanted to be certain my heroine could overhear folks singing God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen and she could.
    So when I was so annoyed at these stations not giving me the music I wanted, I went back to see what other carols were Regency.

    Reply
  29. I had glanced at the age of various carols before, back when I was doing that short story for Mischief and Mistletoe. I wanted to be certain my heroine could overhear folks singing God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen and she could.
    So when I was so annoyed at these stations not giving me the music I wanted, I went back to see what other carols were Regency.

    Reply
  30. I had glanced at the age of various carols before, back when I was doing that short story for Mischief and Mistletoe. I wanted to be certain my heroine could overhear folks singing God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen and she could.
    So when I was so annoyed at these stations not giving me the music I wanted, I went back to see what other carols were Regency.

    Reply
  31. And they would have known Handel’s “Messiah,” except that that Hallelujah Chorus wasn’t written to go smack on the end of the Christmas section, where we put it. Alas for them, because it’s fun to sing!

    Reply
  32. And they would have known Handel’s “Messiah,” except that that Hallelujah Chorus wasn’t written to go smack on the end of the Christmas section, where we put it. Alas for them, because it’s fun to sing!

    Reply
  33. And they would have known Handel’s “Messiah,” except that that Hallelujah Chorus wasn’t written to go smack on the end of the Christmas section, where we put it. Alas for them, because it’s fun to sing!

    Reply
  34. And they would have known Handel’s “Messiah,” except that that Hallelujah Chorus wasn’t written to go smack on the end of the Christmas section, where we put it. Alas for them, because it’s fun to sing!

    Reply
  35. And they would have known Handel’s “Messiah,” except that that Hallelujah Chorus wasn’t written to go smack on the end of the Christmas section, where we put it. Alas for them, because it’s fun to sing!

    Reply
  36. I think you’ve hit upon something there, Joanna. As most words and music were taught by rote and not everyone was capable of reading music it would be far easier to teach the average person the lyrics to a song rather than the melody. As such, the use of one or two melodies people new while changing the lyrics to something they could read from a piece of paper makes absolute sense!

    Reply
  37. I think you’ve hit upon something there, Joanna. As most words and music were taught by rote and not everyone was capable of reading music it would be far easier to teach the average person the lyrics to a song rather than the melody. As such, the use of one or two melodies people new while changing the lyrics to something they could read from a piece of paper makes absolute sense!

    Reply
  38. I think you’ve hit upon something there, Joanna. As most words and music were taught by rote and not everyone was capable of reading music it would be far easier to teach the average person the lyrics to a song rather than the melody. As such, the use of one or two melodies people new while changing the lyrics to something they could read from a piece of paper makes absolute sense!

    Reply
  39. I think you’ve hit upon something there, Joanna. As most words and music were taught by rote and not everyone was capable of reading music it would be far easier to teach the average person the lyrics to a song rather than the melody. As such, the use of one or two melodies people new while changing the lyrics to something they could read from a piece of paper makes absolute sense!

    Reply
  40. I think you’ve hit upon something there, Joanna. As most words and music were taught by rote and not everyone was capable of reading music it would be far easier to teach the average person the lyrics to a song rather than the melody. As such, the use of one or two melodies people new while changing the lyrics to something they could read from a piece of paper makes absolute sense!

    Reply
  41. Interesting post, Joanna. I must confess that having had my eardrums assaulted with christmas musak in shops for the last months, and squirming at the gruesome pop-ization of so many poor, innocent christmas carols, I tend to only play my own music, or else turn on some of the non-commercial radio stations we have here.
    One of the modern Christmas songs I love is the one from Love Actually — not a carol at all, but a good song for Christmas, nevertheless. And I don’t mean the Bill Nighy one, though that’s a lot of fun.

    Reply
  42. Interesting post, Joanna. I must confess that having had my eardrums assaulted with christmas musak in shops for the last months, and squirming at the gruesome pop-ization of so many poor, innocent christmas carols, I tend to only play my own music, or else turn on some of the non-commercial radio stations we have here.
    One of the modern Christmas songs I love is the one from Love Actually — not a carol at all, but a good song for Christmas, nevertheless. And I don’t mean the Bill Nighy one, though that’s a lot of fun.

    Reply
  43. Interesting post, Joanna. I must confess that having had my eardrums assaulted with christmas musak in shops for the last months, and squirming at the gruesome pop-ization of so many poor, innocent christmas carols, I tend to only play my own music, or else turn on some of the non-commercial radio stations we have here.
    One of the modern Christmas songs I love is the one from Love Actually — not a carol at all, but a good song for Christmas, nevertheless. And I don’t mean the Bill Nighy one, though that’s a lot of fun.

    Reply
  44. Interesting post, Joanna. I must confess that having had my eardrums assaulted with christmas musak in shops for the last months, and squirming at the gruesome pop-ization of so many poor, innocent christmas carols, I tend to only play my own music, or else turn on some of the non-commercial radio stations we have here.
    One of the modern Christmas songs I love is the one from Love Actually — not a carol at all, but a good song for Christmas, nevertheless. And I don’t mean the Bill Nighy one, though that’s a lot of fun.

    Reply
  45. Interesting post, Joanna. I must confess that having had my eardrums assaulted with christmas musak in shops for the last months, and squirming at the gruesome pop-ization of so many poor, innocent christmas carols, I tend to only play my own music, or else turn on some of the non-commercial radio stations we have here.
    One of the modern Christmas songs I love is the one from Love Actually — not a carol at all, but a good song for Christmas, nevertheless. And I don’t mean the Bill Nighy one, though that’s a lot of fun.

    Reply
  46. Hi Louisa —
    I’m surprised we don’t have more surviving ‘chants’. The oldest music seems to have lotsa melody.
    I’m putting this poorly because I don’t have the proper words, me being dog ignorant about music.
    So many societies have repetitive chanting as part of their musical custom. You hear it in West Africa and in the Southwest of the United States with the Hopi and Navaho. I wonder why English Christmas music didn’t bring us some of that.

    Reply
  47. Hi Louisa —
    I’m surprised we don’t have more surviving ‘chants’. The oldest music seems to have lotsa melody.
    I’m putting this poorly because I don’t have the proper words, me being dog ignorant about music.
    So many societies have repetitive chanting as part of their musical custom. You hear it in West Africa and in the Southwest of the United States with the Hopi and Navaho. I wonder why English Christmas music didn’t bring us some of that.

    Reply
  48. Hi Louisa —
    I’m surprised we don’t have more surviving ‘chants’. The oldest music seems to have lotsa melody.
    I’m putting this poorly because I don’t have the proper words, me being dog ignorant about music.
    So many societies have repetitive chanting as part of their musical custom. You hear it in West Africa and in the Southwest of the United States with the Hopi and Navaho. I wonder why English Christmas music didn’t bring us some of that.

    Reply
  49. Hi Louisa —
    I’m surprised we don’t have more surviving ‘chants’. The oldest music seems to have lotsa melody.
    I’m putting this poorly because I don’t have the proper words, me being dog ignorant about music.
    So many societies have repetitive chanting as part of their musical custom. You hear it in West Africa and in the Southwest of the United States with the Hopi and Navaho. I wonder why English Christmas music didn’t bring us some of that.

    Reply
  50. Hi Louisa —
    I’m surprised we don’t have more surviving ‘chants’. The oldest music seems to have lotsa melody.
    I’m putting this poorly because I don’t have the proper words, me being dog ignorant about music.
    So many societies have repetitive chanting as part of their musical custom. You hear it in West Africa and in the Southwest of the United States with the Hopi and Navaho. I wonder why English Christmas music didn’t bring us some of that.

    Reply
  51. Hi Anne —
    I’m lucky. I don’t think there’s any store in town that plays music at us.
    For that you have to get on the freeway and head two exits west. There one finds a great encampment of big box stores circling the exit ramp. All of them boom and tweet Christmas music for a month or two.
    I suppose it’s only a matter of time before the local grocery and bank start piping it in. There is noplace safe.

    Reply
  52. Hi Anne —
    I’m lucky. I don’t think there’s any store in town that plays music at us.
    For that you have to get on the freeway and head two exits west. There one finds a great encampment of big box stores circling the exit ramp. All of them boom and tweet Christmas music for a month or two.
    I suppose it’s only a matter of time before the local grocery and bank start piping it in. There is noplace safe.

    Reply
  53. Hi Anne —
    I’m lucky. I don’t think there’s any store in town that plays music at us.
    For that you have to get on the freeway and head two exits west. There one finds a great encampment of big box stores circling the exit ramp. All of them boom and tweet Christmas music for a month or two.
    I suppose it’s only a matter of time before the local grocery and bank start piping it in. There is noplace safe.

    Reply
  54. Hi Anne —
    I’m lucky. I don’t think there’s any store in town that plays music at us.
    For that you have to get on the freeway and head two exits west. There one finds a great encampment of big box stores circling the exit ramp. All of them boom and tweet Christmas music for a month or two.
    I suppose it’s only a matter of time before the local grocery and bank start piping it in. There is noplace safe.

    Reply
  55. Hi Anne —
    I’m lucky. I don’t think there’s any store in town that plays music at us.
    For that you have to get on the freeway and head two exits west. There one finds a great encampment of big box stores circling the exit ramp. All of them boom and tweet Christmas music for a month or two.
    I suppose it’s only a matter of time before the local grocery and bank start piping it in. There is noplace safe.

    Reply
  56. Hi Grace —
    I know folks who go to the great ‘Messiah’ sing-ins. One of the extraordinary innocent pleasures of life.
    In Romance books we see country house parties and large families putting on plays for their own amusement. There’s a — historically correct — assumption that any assemblage of gentry would supply the necessary talented amateurs.
    Why not something complex and musical?

    Reply
  57. Hi Grace —
    I know folks who go to the great ‘Messiah’ sing-ins. One of the extraordinary innocent pleasures of life.
    In Romance books we see country house parties and large families putting on plays for their own amusement. There’s a — historically correct — assumption that any assemblage of gentry would supply the necessary talented amateurs.
    Why not something complex and musical?

    Reply
  58. Hi Grace —
    I know folks who go to the great ‘Messiah’ sing-ins. One of the extraordinary innocent pleasures of life.
    In Romance books we see country house parties and large families putting on plays for their own amusement. There’s a — historically correct — assumption that any assemblage of gentry would supply the necessary talented amateurs.
    Why not something complex and musical?

    Reply
  59. Hi Grace —
    I know folks who go to the great ‘Messiah’ sing-ins. One of the extraordinary innocent pleasures of life.
    In Romance books we see country house parties and large families putting on plays for their own amusement. There’s a — historically correct — assumption that any assemblage of gentry would supply the necessary talented amateurs.
    Why not something complex and musical?

    Reply
  60. Hi Grace —
    I know folks who go to the great ‘Messiah’ sing-ins. One of the extraordinary innocent pleasures of life.
    In Romance books we see country house parties and large families putting on plays for their own amusement. There’s a — historically correct — assumption that any assemblage of gentry would supply the necessary talented amateurs.
    Why not something complex and musical?

    Reply
  61. In college, I played the trumpet. My Thanksgiving to Christmas gig was a (poorly paid) job playing with 2 other trumpeters for a Madrigal feast. We had these fab, long trumpets with banners hanging from them (bought, apparently, from the LA Olympics).
    Anyway.
    Lots and lots of Renaissance music in that. I always wished I could sing well enough to do that instead of a few fanfares while sitting around in a pageboy costume with a couple of cocky guy trumpeters.
    So I LOVE it when I hear Riu Riu Chiu, Wassail all over the Town, The Boar’s Head, or Un flambeau, Jeannette, Isabelle.

    Reply
  62. In college, I played the trumpet. My Thanksgiving to Christmas gig was a (poorly paid) job playing with 2 other trumpeters for a Madrigal feast. We had these fab, long trumpets with banners hanging from them (bought, apparently, from the LA Olympics).
    Anyway.
    Lots and lots of Renaissance music in that. I always wished I could sing well enough to do that instead of a few fanfares while sitting around in a pageboy costume with a couple of cocky guy trumpeters.
    So I LOVE it when I hear Riu Riu Chiu, Wassail all over the Town, The Boar’s Head, or Un flambeau, Jeannette, Isabelle.

    Reply
  63. In college, I played the trumpet. My Thanksgiving to Christmas gig was a (poorly paid) job playing with 2 other trumpeters for a Madrigal feast. We had these fab, long trumpets with banners hanging from them (bought, apparently, from the LA Olympics).
    Anyway.
    Lots and lots of Renaissance music in that. I always wished I could sing well enough to do that instead of a few fanfares while sitting around in a pageboy costume with a couple of cocky guy trumpeters.
    So I LOVE it when I hear Riu Riu Chiu, Wassail all over the Town, The Boar’s Head, or Un flambeau, Jeannette, Isabelle.

    Reply
  64. In college, I played the trumpet. My Thanksgiving to Christmas gig was a (poorly paid) job playing with 2 other trumpeters for a Madrigal feast. We had these fab, long trumpets with banners hanging from them (bought, apparently, from the LA Olympics).
    Anyway.
    Lots and lots of Renaissance music in that. I always wished I could sing well enough to do that instead of a few fanfares while sitting around in a pageboy costume with a couple of cocky guy trumpeters.
    So I LOVE it when I hear Riu Riu Chiu, Wassail all over the Town, The Boar’s Head, or Un flambeau, Jeannette, Isabelle.

    Reply
  65. In college, I played the trumpet. My Thanksgiving to Christmas gig was a (poorly paid) job playing with 2 other trumpeters for a Madrigal feast. We had these fab, long trumpets with banners hanging from them (bought, apparently, from the LA Olympics).
    Anyway.
    Lots and lots of Renaissance music in that. I always wished I could sing well enough to do that instead of a few fanfares while sitting around in a pageboy costume with a couple of cocky guy trumpeters.
    So I LOVE it when I hear Riu Riu Chiu, Wassail all over the Town, The Boar’s Head, or Un flambeau, Jeannette, Isabelle.

    Reply
  66. Un flambeau was a carol I wanted to add to that list. It’s properly authentic in age and my own characters would have known it.
    I wimped out of the research necessary to discover if it had jumped the channel by the Regency.
    My son can play the trumpet. His instrument is actually trombone, but they switch him over when they’re short a trumpet.

    Reply
  67. Un flambeau was a carol I wanted to add to that list. It’s properly authentic in age and my own characters would have known it.
    I wimped out of the research necessary to discover if it had jumped the channel by the Regency.
    My son can play the trumpet. His instrument is actually trombone, but they switch him over when they’re short a trumpet.

    Reply
  68. Un flambeau was a carol I wanted to add to that list. It’s properly authentic in age and my own characters would have known it.
    I wimped out of the research necessary to discover if it had jumped the channel by the Regency.
    My son can play the trumpet. His instrument is actually trombone, but they switch him over when they’re short a trumpet.

    Reply
  69. Un flambeau was a carol I wanted to add to that list. It’s properly authentic in age and my own characters would have known it.
    I wimped out of the research necessary to discover if it had jumped the channel by the Regency.
    My son can play the trumpet. His instrument is actually trombone, but they switch him over when they’re short a trumpet.

    Reply
  70. Un flambeau was a carol I wanted to add to that list. It’s properly authentic in age and my own characters would have known it.
    I wimped out of the research necessary to discover if it had jumped the channel by the Regency.
    My son can play the trumpet. His instrument is actually trombone, but they switch him over when they’re short a trumpet.

    Reply
  71. I go to my own CDs starting with George Winston’s ‘Thanksgiving,’ ‘Autumn,’ and ‘December’ then to the Winter Solstice albums, then segue into more traditional stuff, preferably in non-traditional versions. This year I bought ‘Christmas Lounge’ – cool.

    Reply
  72. I go to my own CDs starting with George Winston’s ‘Thanksgiving,’ ‘Autumn,’ and ‘December’ then to the Winter Solstice albums, then segue into more traditional stuff, preferably in non-traditional versions. This year I bought ‘Christmas Lounge’ – cool.

    Reply
  73. I go to my own CDs starting with George Winston’s ‘Thanksgiving,’ ‘Autumn,’ and ‘December’ then to the Winter Solstice albums, then segue into more traditional stuff, preferably in non-traditional versions. This year I bought ‘Christmas Lounge’ – cool.

    Reply
  74. I go to my own CDs starting with George Winston’s ‘Thanksgiving,’ ‘Autumn,’ and ‘December’ then to the Winter Solstice albums, then segue into more traditional stuff, preferably in non-traditional versions. This year I bought ‘Christmas Lounge’ – cool.

    Reply
  75. I go to my own CDs starting with George Winston’s ‘Thanksgiving,’ ‘Autumn,’ and ‘December’ then to the Winter Solstice albums, then segue into more traditional stuff, preferably in non-traditional versions. This year I bought ‘Christmas Lounge’ – cool.

    Reply
  76. I’m thinking of maybe burning a couple of Christmas CDs from my playlist. Sorta exciting thought. I’ve never burned a CD.

    Reply
  77. I’m thinking of maybe burning a couple of Christmas CDs from my playlist. Sorta exciting thought. I’ve never burned a CD.

    Reply
  78. I’m thinking of maybe burning a couple of Christmas CDs from my playlist. Sorta exciting thought. I’ve never burned a CD.

    Reply
  79. I’m thinking of maybe burning a couple of Christmas CDs from my playlist. Sorta exciting thought. I’ve never burned a CD.

    Reply
  80. I’m thinking of maybe burning a couple of Christmas CDs from my playlist. Sorta exciting thought. I’ve never burned a CD.

    Reply
  81. I love those old carols, but besides Adeste Fideles, I hadn’t realised quite how old some of them are! I’m really interested in the Shropshire carol list from the 15th Century – finally something in my time frame!

    Reply
  82. I love those old carols, but besides Adeste Fideles, I hadn’t realised quite how old some of them are! I’m really interested in the Shropshire carol list from the 15th Century – finally something in my time frame!

    Reply
  83. I love those old carols, but besides Adeste Fideles, I hadn’t realised quite how old some of them are! I’m really interested in the Shropshire carol list from the 15th Century – finally something in my time frame!

    Reply
  84. I love those old carols, but besides Adeste Fideles, I hadn’t realised quite how old some of them are! I’m really interested in the Shropshire carol list from the 15th Century – finally something in my time frame!

    Reply
  85. I love those old carols, but besides Adeste Fideles, I hadn’t realised quite how old some of them are! I’m really interested in the Shropshire carol list from the 15th Century – finally something in my time frame!

    Reply
  86. Hi Deniz —
    There are more old ones I didn’t mention. Limited myself to five or six. I’ll bet a little research would bring up a couple dozen.

    Reply
  87. Hi Deniz —
    There are more old ones I didn’t mention. Limited myself to five or six. I’ll bet a little research would bring up a couple dozen.

    Reply
  88. Hi Deniz —
    There are more old ones I didn’t mention. Limited myself to five or six. I’ll bet a little research would bring up a couple dozen.

    Reply
  89. Hi Deniz —
    There are more old ones I didn’t mention. Limited myself to five or six. I’ll bet a little research would bring up a couple dozen.

    Reply
  90. Hi Deniz —
    There are more old ones I didn’t mention. Limited myself to five or six. I’ll bet a little research would bring up a couple dozen.

    Reply
  91. A belated note to add that one of my favorite carols is from about your time (first pub’d in 1833), and starting
    Tomorrow will be my dancing day;
    I would my true-love would so chance
    To see the legend of my play,
    To call my true-love to my dance.
    Ch: Sing O, my love, O my love, my love.
    This have I done for my true love.
    Then was I born to a virgin pure,
    Of her I took fleshly substance.
    Thus did I take of man’s nature
    To call my true-love to my dance.
    Though this performance doesn’t include all the verses,
    http://en.gloria.tv/?media=119650
    The song takes the story through the crucifixion. I don’t remember whether it includes the ascension.

    Reply
  92. A belated note to add that one of my favorite carols is from about your time (first pub’d in 1833), and starting
    Tomorrow will be my dancing day;
    I would my true-love would so chance
    To see the legend of my play,
    To call my true-love to my dance.
    Ch: Sing O, my love, O my love, my love.
    This have I done for my true love.
    Then was I born to a virgin pure,
    Of her I took fleshly substance.
    Thus did I take of man’s nature
    To call my true-love to my dance.
    Though this performance doesn’t include all the verses,
    http://en.gloria.tv/?media=119650
    The song takes the story through the crucifixion. I don’t remember whether it includes the ascension.

    Reply
  93. A belated note to add that one of my favorite carols is from about your time (first pub’d in 1833), and starting
    Tomorrow will be my dancing day;
    I would my true-love would so chance
    To see the legend of my play,
    To call my true-love to my dance.
    Ch: Sing O, my love, O my love, my love.
    This have I done for my true love.
    Then was I born to a virgin pure,
    Of her I took fleshly substance.
    Thus did I take of man’s nature
    To call my true-love to my dance.
    Though this performance doesn’t include all the verses,
    http://en.gloria.tv/?media=119650
    The song takes the story through the crucifixion. I don’t remember whether it includes the ascension.

    Reply
  94. A belated note to add that one of my favorite carols is from about your time (first pub’d in 1833), and starting
    Tomorrow will be my dancing day;
    I would my true-love would so chance
    To see the legend of my play,
    To call my true-love to my dance.
    Ch: Sing O, my love, O my love, my love.
    This have I done for my true love.
    Then was I born to a virgin pure,
    Of her I took fleshly substance.
    Thus did I take of man’s nature
    To call my true-love to my dance.
    Though this performance doesn’t include all the verses,
    http://en.gloria.tv/?media=119650
    The song takes the story through the crucifixion. I don’t remember whether it includes the ascension.

    Reply
  95. A belated note to add that one of my favorite carols is from about your time (first pub’d in 1833), and starting
    Tomorrow will be my dancing day;
    I would my true-love would so chance
    To see the legend of my play,
    To call my true-love to my dance.
    Ch: Sing O, my love, O my love, my love.
    This have I done for my true love.
    Then was I born to a virgin pure,
    Of her I took fleshly substance.
    Thus did I take of man’s nature
    To call my true-love to my dance.
    Though this performance doesn’t include all the verses,
    http://en.gloria.tv/?media=119650
    The song takes the story through the crucifixion. I don’t remember whether it includes the ascension.

    Reply

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