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The Curious History of Christmas Carols

Updated on February 5, 2015

This 1901 article by Annie Russell Marble, "Christmas Carols, Ancient and Modern," offers an interesting look at the Medieval origin of Christmas carols. Some Medieval carols, embroidered with feudal notions of kings and queens, knights in armor and ladies in waiting, are rarely heard today, so distant are they from the actual story of a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger because there was no room in the inn. Yet other Christmas carols in current use are of surprisingly ancient tradition. Even today, with all of our scientific and technological accomplishments of which mankind can boast, the idea of the Virgin birth, the birth of the child Jesus as foretold by the angel, as in ages past, is yet a miraculous wonder yet unexplained, something that so many words can only wonder at and marvel. God made man. A mystery for the ages. Such is Christmas Day.

That chylde is borne

At Bethlehem this morne

Ye shall find Him beforne

Betwixt two bestys.

Songs Of Angels: Christmas Hymns And Carols
Songs Of Angels: Christmas Hymns And Carols

The Robert Shaw Chamber singers perform this collection of Christmas hymns and carols without instrumental accompaniment.


Thoughts on Christmas Carols

I do love Christmas carols. The music is so joyful, so filled with awe and wonder. At our house there was always a Christmas carol book inside the piano bench, a thin green booklet with all the basics for a Merry Christmas carol sing just in case, whose pages contain the "First Noel," the "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen," the "Silent Night," the "We Three Kings of Orient Are," and all of those standard tunes that we have come to expect on such an important Christian holiday. We sing these songs at school functions and church pageants. We hear these songs performed by even the most jaded secular performers, a nod to the enduring popularity of Christmas even in this Secular-Skeptical Age in which cynicism and unbelief hold sway in many areas of life formerly governed by faith. See some examples below:


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    • Elsie Hagley profile image

      Elsie Hagley 4 years ago from New Zealand

      Nice review.

      Christmas means a lot to me, why we celebrate it. One of my articles on Squidoo is about the true meaning of christmas, which today a lot really don't know. Sad really. I love all those carols which I learnt going to sunday school when I was very young.

      Hope you had a nice christmas.