You know what a carol is? Yep. A Christmas song that may or may not be religious.
The first carols appeared in 4th century Rome, and one example is ‘Veni redemptor gentium’, which means ‘Come redeemer of the nations’, which were ‘austere statements of the theological doctrine of the Incarnation in opposition to Arianism’. Umm… I have no idea what that means. I know theology is like studying religion and God and stuff, and incarnation is something like being given a body, flesh and blood and stuff, being alive (I am trying to remember what I learned in RS), but the rest is just… x_x But anyway, it sounds pretty grim and not at all Christmassy. But a different carol, ‘Corde natus ex parentis’, which means ‘Of the father’s love begotten’, is still sung, and to me, also sounds grim and depressing.
MUCH later on, carols started becoming popular and actually sounded more like songs. At this time (in around the 1400s), carols were also starting to be sung in churches and get more associated with Christmas. In the 18th century, ‘O come all ye faithful’ appeared in the way we know it now, and some people say the words are from the 13th century but the tune is… not. People are arguing about that. (This makes me wonder if there is a whole section of historians who are looking at the history of Christmas in particular.)
During the 1800s, carols we know today became more popular, songs such as ‘God rest ye merry gentlemen’ (which I actually have never heard of until now), ‘The first Noel’ (not heard of that one either), ‘I saw three ships’ (heard of the title, but not the actual carol), ‘Hark the herald angels sing’ (heard of that), ‘Good king Wenceslas’ (we had to sing it in school and all the male teachers had to do the part of the king, and it was funny) and finally ‘It came upon the midnight clear’ (WHAT is that one?). At this time, songs like these were only beginning to be sung in church. The old ones that no one (except Latin scholars or something) has ever heard of were, but the more ‘modern’, well-known ones weren’t, until the 19th century!
Some songs people may not think of as carols are, in the eyes of the dictionary, carols. I can’t name any, but some songs that are not religious can be called carols!! Let me think… I have no idea. Speaking of that, people do have different ideas of what songs are carols. Do you think ‘Jingle bells’ is a carol? I don’t think it is. It’s more of a happy Christmassy song, you know?!
And now time for two random facts: 1. Did you know that ‘Hark the herald angels sing’ was once called ‘Hark how all the welkin rings’? In 1840 it was changed and in 1861 it first appeared in a book of hymns.
And now the second fact… 2. Did you know the carol ‘Silent night’ comes from Austria? It was written in 1816 and only appeared in Britain in 1871.
OK, I’ve been trying to look for lesser known carols, and so far they all… SUCK. But I have one that we sung in school once. It’s called ‘Now weave the rich scarlet’ and the first few lines are (from memory):
“Now weave the rich scarlet of organ notes praising,
The alpha and omega, counseller, king…”
And some more that I can’t remember. So have you ever heard of it? It’s a weird carol/song, because it has two different tunes. It’s weird.
Again, thanks to Wikipedia. Did you learn anything? I did.
Your Christmassy blogger, Jaz