Christmas Carols, Ancient And Modern

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c
lected the good old tunes; in winter nights lulling us with " Hush thee, my darling," or enlivening our frozen toes in imagination with a galope or ma­zurka; and in summer steaming it to Margate or Ramsgate, to harmonize the flocks that go to the great annual wash there, with " The Sea," " Ye Gentlemen of England," &c.
The practice of decorating churches and houses with evergreens is of very ancient date. From the earliest times branches of trees -and flowers were used in religious ceremonies as emblems of glad­ness. Our Saviour himself permitted such a de­monstration upon his triumphal entry into Jeru­salem ; it was natural therefore that the early Christians should adopt this symbol of rejoicing on the return of that season in which they comme­morated the fulfilment of the promise to fallen man, in honour of the birth of our Saviour. The custom was, however, liable to abuse in common with others derived from the heathens ; differences of opinion arose as to its propriety, and some of the councils endeavoured to abolish it. In the Capitula Grcecarum Synodorum, a.d. 610, collected by Martin Bishop of Bracara, can. 73, it is en­acted, that "It is not lawfull to keepe the wicked observations of kalends, nor to observe the festivals of the Gentiles ; nor yet to begirt or adorne houses with laurel or greene boughes: for all this practice savours of Paganism." *
The usage however gained ground, and has been preserved to the present day. One of the earliest carols of the following collection, of the time of Henry VI. is called " A song on the Ivy and the Holly." Stowe mentions a storm of thunder and
* Prynne's Histrio-mustix, p. 581.

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