Christmas Carols, Ancient And Modern

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cxx -
The custom of singing carols was, however, by no means confined to the reformed religion, for the Roman Catholics equally preserved the custom ; as indeed is done to this day in the Catholic countries on the Continent. Barnaby Googe, in his transla­tion of " Naogeorgus, gives the following account of Christmas-day in the middle of the sixteenth century, among other things :
Three masses every priest doth sing upon that solemne day, With offrings unto every one, that so the more may play. This done, a woodden childe in clowtes is on the aultar set, About the which both boyes and gyrles do daunce and
trymlyjet; And carrols sing in prayse of Christ, and, for to helpe them
heare, The organs aunswere every verse with sweete and solemne
cheare. The priestes do rore aloude; and round about the parentes
stande To see the sport, and with their voyce do helpe them and
their hande.
Naogeorgus also mentions a custom of the same date, in parts of Germany, for the young people of both sexes to go about from house to house on the three Thursday nights preceding the Nativity, knocking at the doors and singing Christmas carols, and wishing a happy new year,— a custom yet scarcely obsolete in some parts of England.
There is a story on record, of a terrible plague at Goldsberg, in 1553, which carried off above 2500 persons, leaving not more than twenty-five housekeepers alive in the place. The plague abat­ing, one of the survivors went on Christmas-eve to the Lower Ring, and sang a carol, and was by de­grees joined by a few others, to excite each other in thanksgiving. Hence arose a custom for the people to assemble in large numbers, at the Upper

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