Christmas Carols, Ancient And Modern

With Historical notes Lyrics & Sheet music - online book.

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The Tunes are of a pleasing and plaintive nature, and most of them appear to be of considerable antiquity. In No. 3 will be found a specimen of the old minor key, with a flat seventh at the close; the scale is founded on one of the old Grecian modes, having the flat seventh ascending and descending, and was varied by the introduction of the more modern minor key, as far back, probably, as the 15th century. It appears harsh to modern ears, which expect the g sharp. No. 6 is of simple construction, almost a chant. No. 11, according to tradition, has been known for three hundred years back. No. 9 is very similar to one of the old Shakspearian tunes, " There lived a man in Baby­lon." Nos. 14 and 15 are inserted to show the manner in which the carol-singers sing in parts. Nos. 16 and 17 are examples of French carol tunes, both in a minor key, and apparently old. No. 18 is a tune, which I have been in­formed by the lady who furnished me with it, has been handed down as the appropriate one for the old ballad of " Lord Thomas and fair Elinor." I have therefore intro­duced it, though not a regular carol tune, from its probable antiquity. Although the tunes are appropriated in this selection to particular carols, they are not confined to them, but some favourite ones are sung to various sets of words. As it would have encumbered the work to have printed a greater number, I may, from the difference of taste in these matters, have omitted some, more prized by the singers, but I have endeavoured to bring forward the best.

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