Christmas Carols, Ancient And Modern

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xxxix
When as ye chuse your king and queen, And cry out,l Hey for our town green.' Of ash-heapes, in the which ye use Husbands and wives by streakes to chuse; Of crackling laurell, which fore-sounds A plentious harvest to your grounds; Of these, and such like things, for shift, We send in stead of New-yeares gift."
He finishes with
" And thus, throughout, with Christmas playes Frolick the full twelve holy-dayes."*
The Carol, by George Withers, printed in the following collection, contains many allusions to the customs attending the feast. But now a cessation was about to take place in these sports. In 1642 the first ordinances were issued to suppress the performance of plays, and hesitation was expressed as to the manner of keeping Christmas. Some shops in London were even opened on Christmas-day 1643, part of the people being fearful of a Popish observance of the day. The Puritans gra­dually prevailed, and in 1647 some parish officers were committed for permitting ministers to preach upon Christmas-day, and for adorning the Church.f
On the 3rd of June in the same year, it was ordained by the Lords and Commons in Parlia­ment, that the feast of the Nativity of Christ, with other holidays, should be no longer observed, and that all scholars, apprentices, and other servants, with the leave and approbation of their masters, should have such relaxation from labour on the second Tuesday in every month as they used to
* Herrick's Works, 8vo. 1823, vol. i. p. 176-7.
f Nichols's " Illustrations of Manners and Expences," p. 53. Church-Wardens Accorapts of St. Margaret's, West­minster, 1647.

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