Feelings About Carols
I write down this brief history of Carols, I want to go on record
to say that of all the songs we Christians sing, Christmas Carols
are my favorite! I can't explain why. I only know that without the
songs of Christmas, the Holiday just wouldn't be the same. If we're
going to celebrate the birth of our Savior, then it follows that
we must sing about it! God gave us instructions in both the old
and the new testaments to
Throughout the ages, angels have been singing around His throne,
and believers have been singing in the temple and church house,
extolling the wonders and the glory of our God! The angels, on the
night of the birth of Jesus sang out loud and clear that "Unto
you this day .. is born a Savior!" I don't care if the word
'carol' had a different meaning in antiquity and was used by pagans
in their celebrations. I only know that when I sing songs about
Jesus' birth into this world, it reminds me of the gift of life
that came to us that night in the city of Bethlehem, and it gives
me a feeling of great joy both to hear and to sing of that wonderful
is entitled to their own opinion, and I'm aware there is a belief
among some that even the celebration of Christmas has its roots
in paganism; but God looks at our hearts, and He made us in such
a way that we're able to express our love and worship in many ways,
and music is paramount in the praise of our Lord! And in my heart
I know it is appropriate to worship our King any day of the year!
So I will continue to love and sing carols, and I confess that I
sing and listen to them year round, and from my heart they come,
and shall until that great day when we meet Him to be in Heaven
for eternity, and He gives us new songs to sing! And, from my heart,
I wish you a Merry Christmas and Happy Carolling!
and with Love in Christ,
History of Carols
were first sung in Europe thousands of years ago, but these were
not Christmas Carols. They were pagan songs, sung at the Winter
Solstice celebration as people danced around stone circles. The
Winter Solstice is the shortest day of the year, usually around
the 22nd December. The word Carols actually means dance or a song
of praise and joy! Carols used to be written and sung during all
four seasons, but only the tradition of singing them at Christmas
Christians took over the Pagan Solstice celebrations for Christmas
and gave people Christian songs to sing instead of pagan ones.
In AD 129,
a Roman Bishop said that a song called 'Angel's Hymn' should be
sung at a Christmas service in Rome. Another famous early Christmas
Hymn was written in 760 AD by Comas of Jerusalem for the Greek Orthodox
Church. Soon after this many composers all over Europe started to
write carols but not many people liked them, as they were all written
and sung in Latin, a language that the normal people could not understand.
By the time
of the Middles Ages (the 1200s), most people had lost interest in
celebrating Christmas altogether. This was changed by St. Francis
of Assisi, when in 1223 he started his Nativity Plays in Italy.
The people in the plays sang songs or 'canticles' telling the story
during plays. Sometimes the choruses of these new carols were in
Latin, but usually they were in a language that the people watching
the play could understand and sing.
The new carols
spread to France, Spain, Germany and other European countries. The
earliest carol in this era was written in 1410, but sadly only a
very small fragment of it still exists. It was about Mary and Jesus
meeting different people in Bethlehem. Most Carols from this time
and the Elizabethan period are untrue stories, very loosely based
on the Christmas story, about the holy family and were seen as entertaining
rather than religious songs. They were usually sung in homes rather
than in churches.
singers or Minstrels started singing these carols and the words
were changed for the local people wherever they were traveling.
One carol that was changed in this manner is 'I Saw Three Ships.'
When, in 1647,
Oliver Cromwell and the Puritans came to power in England, celebrating
Christmas and singing carols was stopped. However, the carols survived
as people still sang them in secret. Carols remained mainly unsung
until Victorian times when two men, William Sandys and Davis Gilbert
collected much old Christmas music from villages in England. Before
carol singing in public became popular, there were sometimes official
carol singers called 'Waits.' These were bands of people led by
important local leaders (such as council leaders) who had the power
in the towns and villages to take money from the public (if others
did this, they were sometimes charged as beggars!). They were called
'Waits' because they only sang on Christmas Eve (This was sometimes
known as 'watchnight' or 'waitnight' because of the shepherds who
were watching their sheep when the angels appeared to them) when
the Christmas celebrations began. Also, at this time many orchestras
and choirs were being set up in the cities of England and people
wanted Christmas songs to sing so carols once again became popular.
new carols were also written such as 'Good King Wenceslas.' New
carols services were created and became popular as did the custom
of singing carols throughout the streets. Both of these customs
are still popular today! One of the most popular types of Carols
services are Carols by Candlelight services. At this service, the
church is lit only by candle light and it feels very festive! Carols
by Candlelight services are held in countries all over the world.