Christmas Carols, Ancient And Modern

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Ixxxi
seen. And after thei daunced and commoned to≠gether as the fashion of the maskes is, thei tooke their leaue and departed, and so did the Quene and all the ladies."
During the reigns of Elizabeth and James the First, and indeed up to the time of the civil wars, this feast was observed with great show at Court, as well as at the Universities and the Inns of Court. Several plays, including many of the masques of Ben Jonson, were from time to time presented at Court on, and frequently purposely written for this occasion. In the beginning of Elizabeth's reign, January 1559-60, Nichols, in his "Progresses," mentions that on " Twelfth-day, in the afternoon, the Lord Mayor and Aldermen, and all the crafts of London, and the Bachelors of the Mayor's Com≠pany, went in procession to St. Paul's, after the old custom, and there did hear a sermon. The same day was a scaffold set up in the hall for a play; and after the play was over, was a fine mask ; and after, a great banquet that lasted till midnight."
It was a very early practice with our Kings to make an offering at the high altar on this day, of gold, frank≠incense, and myrrh, in commemoration of the offering of the three kings. Edward the First, in his 28th year, gave to the amount of one florin in gold, with frankincense and myrrh, besides oblations in money to the amount of 22s.* Henry the Seventh made offerings to the value of £1. 13s. 4d.f The prac≠tice has been continued to the present day. The same usage also prevailed on the Continent, but the customs there have been frequently varied by the numerous political changes of late years. The King of Spain formerly offered three chalices or com≠munion cups, worth about three hundred ducats
* Wardrobe Account, published by Antiq. Society, p. 27. f Excerpta Historica, part i. p. 106.

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