Christmas Carols, Ancient And Modern

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At these grand Christmasses there were revels and dancing during the twelve days of Christmas. It was about this time that " Ferrex and Porrex" was acted before the Queen by the gentlemen of the Inner Temple; the printer stating it to be " for furniture of part of the grand Christmasse in the Inner Temple." The order of the usual Christmas amusements at the inns of court at this period, would cause some curious scenes if carried into effect in the present day. Barristers singing and dancing before the judges, Serjeants, and benchers, would " draw a house," if spectators were admitted. Of so serious import was this dancing considered, that by an order in Lincoln's Inn, of February, 7th James I. the under barristers were by deci­mation put out of commons, because the whole bar offended by not dancing on Candlemas day pre­ceding, according to the ancient order of the so­ciety, when the judges were present; with a threat that if the fault were repeated, they should be fined or disbarred. Dugdale * gives the following description of the Inner Temple revels, the three grand days being All-hallown, Candlemass, and Ascension day.
" First, the solemn Revells (after dinner, and the play ended,) are begun by the whole House, Judges, Sergeants at Law, Benchers; the Utter and Inner Barr; and they led by the Master of the Revells: and one of the Gentlemen of the Utter Barr are chosen to sing a Song to the Judges, Ser­jeants, or Masters of the Bench; which is usually performed; and in default thereof, there may be an amerciament. Then the Judges and Benchers take their places, and sit down at the upper end of the Hall. Which done, the Utter-Barristers, and
* Orig. Jurid. p. 161.

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E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III