Tag Archive: 0Christmas

The Angel and the Unicorn

The Angel and the Unicorn

8th October 2020

According to The New Oxford Book of Carols, this year marks the 125th anniversary of the famous carol known in English as ‘Gabriel’s Message’. It is actually a translation, by Sabine Baring-Gould, of a Basque carol, Birjina gaztettobat zegoen, which was collected by the French musician Charles Bordes and published in his Dix cantiques populaires […]

Here we come a wassailing

Here we come a wassailing

20th December 2019

What better way to end our Christmas carol countdown than with a rousing round of ‘Here we come a wassailing‘? The words were first published in Husk’s book of carols in 1864 (which we blogged about this past Tuesday), whose sources included a Manchester chapbook and a broadside printed in Bradford, c.1850 (Keyte, p. 545). […]

A Booke of Christmas Carols

A Booke of Christmas Carols

18th December 2019

Today we will take a break from our series of ‘first appearances’ of carols to bring you a delightful early Victorian gift book, with chromolithographed illuminations throughout: Joseph Cundall’s A Booke of Christmas Carols, illuminated from Ancient Manuscripts in the British Museum (London, Henry G. Bohn, 1845): ‘After Pickering, the publisher with the most devoted […]

The Twelve Days of Christmas

The Twelve Days of Christmas

17th December 2019

Next on our Christmas carol countdown is ‘The Twelve Days of Christmas’. It turns out we have the eighteenth century to thank for this beloved carol and its delightful assemblage of festive feathered friends; according to Keyte, the words first appeared in ‘various forms in broadsides from the early eighteenth century onward’ (p. 469). Lucy […]

It came upon the midnight clear

It came upon the midnight clear

16th December 2019

As with many of our favourite Christmas carols, ‘It came upon the midnight clear’ first appears (with its tune) in a Victorian publication: Arthur Sullivan‘s Church Hymns with Tunes (London, Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 1874): ‘This fine Christmas hymn is a meditation on man’s wilful deafness to the message of the angels, and, not […]

We Three Kings of Orient are

We Three Kings of Orient are

13th December 2019

‘We Three Kings of Orient are’ has always been a crowd-pleaser (and a magnet for children who enjoy changing the words). An American carol, it first appeared on p. 12 of John Henry Hopkins‘s Carols, Hymns, and Songs (New York, Church Book Depository, [1863]): ‘Hopkins was rector of Christ’s Church, Williamsport, Pennsylvania, when he published […]