Christmas Carols, Ancient And Modern

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and Lower King on Christmas morning, to sinu carols, beginning with
Unto us this day a child is bom.*
In the grand Christmasses kept up at Court, and other places, the singing of carols always consti­tuted part of the necessary ceremonies. Among the regulations for conducting a feast of this de­scription at one of the Inns of Court, in the early part (4th year) of Queen Elizabeth, as given by Dugdale, is the following for Christmas eve : " At night, before supper, are revels and dancing, and so also after supper, during the twelve daies of Christ­mas. The antientest Master of the Revels is, after dinner and supper, to sing a caroll or song; and command other gentlemen then there present to sing with him and the company ; and so it is very decently performed." (fol. 1671, p. 150-155.)
Christmas carols at this time were probably di­vided into two sorts: one of a more scriptural or serious nature, sung in churches, and through the streets, and from house to house, ushering in the Christmas morning, and sung afterwards, morning and evening, until Twelfth-day; the other, of a more convivial nature, and adapted to the season of feasting and carousing. The convivial, or "jolie carols," as Tusser calls them, were sung by the company, or by the itinerant minstrels that attend­ed the feasts for the purpose, during the daily revelry at the houses of the wealthy throughout the Christmas. Some of them were called Wassel Songs, and may be traced back to the Anglo-Nor­mans, who were very prone to conviviality, and encouraged every thing that was likely to aid it. An Anglo-Norman song of this description, as old
* Friendship's Offering, 1823. i

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