Learn the History of Christmas Carols!

The first time that Carols were sung in Europe was thousands of years ago! These Carols were not Christmas Carols but pagan songs  sung at the Winter Solstice celebrations as people danced round stone circles. (The word ‘Carol’ originally meant to dance to something). The Winter Solstice is the shortest day of the year, and most of the time it’s around the 22nd December. The actual meaning of the word Carol is “dance” or “a song of praise and joy”!

Carols used to be sung during all four seasons, but only this tradition of singing them during the Christmas period has survived during the years.

When the first Christians took over  the pagan solstice celebrations for Christmas, people started singing Christian songs instead of pagan ones.

“Angel’s Hymn” was written in AD 129 in order to be sung at a Christmas service in Rome. A second famous Christmas Hymn was written in 760AD , for the Greek Orthodox Church. Soon many European composers started to write Christmas Carols. The problem was that people didn’t like them because they were written and sung in Latin and nobody could understand the lyrics. In the Middle Ages (the 1200s) people had lost interest in celebrating Christmas altogether and singing Christmas Carols.

The history of Christmas Carols changed by St. Francis of Assisi, in 1223. He started his Nativity Plays in Italy. During these plays people sang songs or ‘canticles’ that told the story during the plays. Sometimes, the lyrics of these carols were in Latin;but most of the times they were sung in the language that the audience who was watching could understand and join in! The new carols spread to France, Spain, Germany and other European countries.

After 1410 carols were usually sung in homes rather than in churches! Traveling singers or Minstrels started singing these carols and the words were changed for the local people wherever they were traveling. One carol that changed like this is “I saw three ships”.

In 1647 when Puritans came to power in England the celebration of Christmas and singing Carols were forbidden. However, carols survived because people still sang them in secret. Until the Victorian times carols remained unsung. Then two men, William Sandys and Davis Gilbert, made a big collection of old Christmas music from villages in England.

During the Victorian times, carols were  sang by official carol singers called ‘Waits’ and by many orchestras and choirs in the cities of England. People wanted Christmas songs to sing, so carols once again became popular.

There were new carols services that were created and became popular, as did the custom of singing carols in the streets. These customs are still popular today!

Now enjoy MyVoxSongs  Christmas Carol medley  & Sing along with Us!!



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.