I wanted to share how carols and caroling came to be. It turns out that they didn’t start out as praise to God, or to the Newborn King.
The word originated from French and Anglo-Norman origin. A carol was considered a dance song, or a song that was danced while people formed a circle, hence the term ‘circle song.’ Carols were sung during all four seasons, but the tradition of singing them at Christmastime is the only one that survived.
Early Christians took over this custom and wrote songs about Christ and the Virgin Mary and others, and the tradition changed. But because they were mostly sung in Latin, during the middle Ages (1200) people lost interest and many stopped celebrating Christmas.
This soon changed when Saint Francis of Assisi started his Nativity plays, and this time people could understand them, because they were written in their own language. The tradition spread fast.
By the 15th century carols evolved into an art form, became more elaborate and were considered an important contribution to medieval music.
Later on, minstrels and waits (watchmen at walled cities) would pass their time by singing carols. From there, the tradition changed to having the minstrels go from door to door, singing to people and hoping to receive a treat in return.
Nowadays, we pay good money to go see a live Christmas show, where we can listen to our favorite artists perform the famous and popular songs of the season. How’s that for change!
I’d like to share a version of my favorite carol with you. I made myself my own playlist with my favorite performers and songs. I have to admit that I own several different versions of the Carol of the Bells, just because I love this song.
Sources: here, here and here.
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