Christmas Carols, Ancient And Modern

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cxxviii
three hundred years old, having been handed down by succeeding generations, but the diction must have been gradually modernized. Two or three obtained from very aged persons, who said their fathers received them also when children from their parents, are no doubt of considerable antiquity, as well as some of those in manuscript, as many of these (ancient themselves) profess to have been copied from more ancient books ; others are of a much more recent date. Several of the tunes ap­pear to have been passed down orally, until some singer, more scientific perhaps than his fellows, fixed them on paper; but even now many of the carol-singers know them only by tradition and de­scent, which preserve them very faithfully; as in London, in the tunes of some of the old-fashioned ballad-singers, may occasionally be recognised some of great antiquity.
The oldest printed collection of Christmas carols mentioned is that published by Wynkyn de Worde, in the year 1521. The colophon of this work is, " Thus endeth the Christmasse carolles, newely in-printed at Londo, in the fletestrete, at the sygne of the sonne, by wynkyn de worde. The yere of our lorde, m.d.xxi."
Another old collection is thus intitled, being in black letter, as well as the preceding: " Christmas carolles newely Inprinted, ( Wood-cut of our Sa­viour crucified between the two thieves.) Inprynted at London, in the Powltry, by Rychard Kele, dwellyng at the longe shop under saynt Myldredes Chyrche."
The editor of " Bibliographical Miscellanies," (4to. Oxford, 1813,) doubts whether the whole of this relique be of Kele's printing, since it is im­perfect, and conceives it to be a part of at least three volumes of carols, as there are three different

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