Christmas Carols, Ancient And Modern

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pewterers, and painters, maintained their play of " The Three Kings of Coleyn," as appears by an order of their Society, dated Sept. 1st, 1536. In an old book of this company, is the following entry, dated 5th March 1598, relating to the players' apparel.
" Bye beards to the kynges three, and for the messonger one with theyr head hayres.
" Item, three cappes, and thre septers, and thre crownes.
" Item, one sterre and twey crownes.
" Item, box with our ordenarie and oure playe book."
About the beginning of James the First, these plays were suppressed in all towns of the kingdom.*
In an inventory of ornaments belonging to the church of Holbech, in Lincolnshire, in 1548, ap­pears, " Item, for the coats of the iii kyngs of Coloyne, vs. mid." evidently intended for some mystery or procession.-j- Some of the earliest printed books were appropriated to their history, so popular does it appear to have been. Dibdin J says that an edition was printed in his best manner by GuldenschaifF, in 1477 ; and W. de Worde, in 1521, also printed one. There are numerous ma­nuscripts on the subject; amongst others, Harl. MS. 2407-13, containing an antient song on the Three Kings of Cologne, wherein the whole story is resolved into alchemy !
Twelfth-day is now considered the close of Christmas, after which people go back to their accustomed labours, treasuring up the recollection of past enjoyments, and looking forward to a repeti­tion of them on the return of the season. But in
* Brand's History of Newcastle, ii. 372. n. f Warton's Hist, of Poetry, iii. 11. n. X Biographical Tour, vol. i. p. 177.

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