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TRADITIONAL TUNES OF UNCERTAIN DATE.                            751
in the evening (ante i. 42) ; but he adds "If so be that ye will have another tune, it may be at your pleasure," and I have no doubt that the festive carols were usually sung to dance-tunes. I have found many which are directed to be sung to such airs, and one of the significations of the word " caroling," and the sense in which it was most frequently used in the fourteenth and fifteenth cen­turies, was to sing or warble to dancing. (See Chaucer passim.) Caroling was afterwards used to express the singing or warbling of a lively tune, with or without the dancing.
I imagine the word to be used in this sense by Trevisa, vicar of Berkeley, who, in the year 1398, made a free translation of a book on the nature and qualities of different things, written in Latin about thirty years before, by an English Franciscan friar (Bartholomseus, De Proprietatibus Serum). He tells us that when boys had passed the age of seven years, they were " sette to lernynge, and compellid to take lernynge and chastysynge." That at that age, they are " ply-aunt of body, able and lyghte to moevinge, wytty to lerne carolles, and wythoute besynesse, and drede noo perylles more than betynge with a rodde; and they love an apple more than golde," &c. I suspect that the boys were more ready to warble lively tunes, and perhaps to catch up a few of the words, than to learn religious songs.
Warton, in his History of English Poetry, attributes the introduction of the
religious carol to the Puritans; but this is clearly a mistake, for there are many
extant which were in use long before the age of puritanism. Nevertheless, the
"jolly carols," as Tusser calls them, were by far the more popular in early times.
" The lewid peple than algates agre,
And caroles singen everi* Criste messe tyde, Not with schamfastenes, bot jocondle ;
And, holly bowghes aboute, and al asydde The brenning fyre, hem eten and hem drinke,
And laughen mereli, and maken route; And pype and dansen, and hem rage ; ne swinke [i.e., labour] Ne noe thynge els, twalve daye' thei wolde not,"
Lud. Coll., xlv. H. 1. The oldest printed collection of Christmas Carols is that which was published by Wynkyn de Worde in 1521, but the songs are of a festal character, including the famous " Boar's-head Carol," which is still sung annually, on Christmas Day, at Queen's College, Oxford.
" In the West of England," says Mr. Sandys, " and especially in the western parts of Cornwall, carol-singing is still kept up, the singers going about from house to house, wherever they can obtain encouragement." In the West of England also, until very lately, rejoicings of all kinds commenced on Ghristmas Eve. The day was passed in the ordinary manner; "but at seven or eight o'clock in the evening, cakes were drawn hot from the oven ; cyder or beer exhilarated the spirits in every house; and the singing of carols was continued late into the night. On Christmas Day, these carols took the place of psalms in all the churches, especially at afternoon service, the whole congregation joining; and at the end, it was usual for the parish clerk to declare, in a loud voice, his wishes for a inerry Christmas and a happy new year to all the parishioners." (Preface to Christmas Carols, &c, by Davies Gilbert, 2nd edit., 1823.)

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