Christmas Carols, Ancient And Modern

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CX1V
fiddler, a character called Bessy, and one per­sonating the Doctor. Another custom in Yorkshire is the Hagman-heigh, on New Year's Eve. The keeper of the pinfold goes round knocking at certain doors with a song beginning,
To-night it is the new-year's night, to-morrow is the day ; We are come about for our right and for our ray, As we us'd to do in old King Henry's day : Sing, fellows, sing, Hagman-heigh, &c.
He concludes with wishing a merry Christmas, and a happy New Year.* But it would far exceed the limits of this Introduction to enter into a detail of the different county customs, even if I had the means of doing so; therefore, like Dogberry, having bestowed all my tediousness upon your worships, I will proceed to state a few particulars relating to the singing of carols.
Music was introduced into the sacred rites of the earliest nations. The Egyptians used it, the Druids also had recourse to it, and it formed a considerable part of the religious ceremonies of the Greeks and Romans. The Hebrews had hymns and psalms from their first becoming a nation ; one of the earliest on record being that in which Miriam and her com­panions joined on the overthrow of the Egyptians. The Anglo-Saxons and other Gothic nations greatly encouraged psalmody. If we may judge from those specimens that have been handed down to us, the tunes and melodies were but few, and those of a nature that do not impress us with any favourable idea of their harmony.
The Heathen Romans were in the habit of sing­ing hymns on the calends of January, on which ac­count some of the early canons of the church pro­hibited the practice at that time, but the corruptions
* Hone's Table-Book, part i. p. 7-8.

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