Christmas is not a time nor a season, but a state of mind. To cherish peace and goodwill, be plenteous in mercy is to have the real spirit of Christmas. Calvin Coolidge.

Monday, 26 November 2012

Carol singing

What are Christmas Carols?    

Christmas carols are special songs which are sung during the Christmas season. The songs are about Jesus and the time when he was born.

Why were Christmas Carols written?

Many Christmas carols were written for a special purpose, often to accompany performances of religious dramas dating from medieval times.

In the Middle Ages, carols were dances accompanied by singing. It is thought that these dances were introduced to England from France.

What does the word 'carol' mean?

The word carol comes from the ancient Greek 'choros', which means "dancing in a circle," and from the Old French word 'carole', meaning "a song to accompany dancing".

Over the years, the word 'carol' changed its meaning, referring only to certain kinds of songs, the word carol became known as Christmas songs.

What is Carol Singing?

Carol singing, or Caroling, is singing carols in the street or public places. It is one of the oldest customs in Great Britain, going back to the Middle Ages when beggars, seeking food, money, or drink, would wander the streets singing holiday songs.

People today still go carol singing. People go from house to house singing carols and collecting money for charity.

The traditional period to sing carols is from St Thomas's Day (21 December) until the morning of Christmas Day.

Christmas Carols were once banned

Christmas carols were banned between 1647 and 1660 in England by Oliver Cromwell, who thought that Christmas should be a solemn day. copyright of

The tradition of carol singers going from door to door came about because they were banned from churches in the Middle Ages.

The Christmas Carol Service

Probably the most famous carol service is 'The Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols' held in King's College Chapel, Cambridge. It takes place on Christmas Eve and always begins with the carol, 'Once in Royal David's City' sung by a solo chorister.Did you know?
St Francis of Assisi introduced Christmas Carols to formal church services.

The biggest selling Christmas Carol

White Christmas by Irving Berlin is the biggest-selling Christmas song of all time. It is estimated to have sold approximately 350 million copies on record and sheet music.

The Story of the Silent Night Carol

The carol Silent Night was written in 1818, by an Austrian priest Joseph Mohr. He was told the day before Christmas that the church organ was broken and would not be prepared in time for Christmas Eve. He was saddened by this and could not think of Christmas without music, so he wanted to write a carol that could be sung by choir to guitar music. He sat down and wrote three stanzas. Later that night the people in the little Austrian Church sang "Stille Nacht" for the first time.

The first instrument on which the carol "Silent Night" was played was a guitar.

Other Christmas Carols and when they were composed

1843 - O Come all ye Faithful

1848 - Once in Royal David's City

1851 - See Amid the Winters Snow

1868 - O Little Town of Bethlehem

1883 - Away in a Manger

Sing-A-Long Christmas Carols


  1. Christmas Carols: The first carols are said to have been sung by angelic choirs at Christ's birth. St.Francis of Assissi is also accredited as the 'Father of Caroling'. The word 'carol' comes from the Greek 'charaulein', a Greek dance, later replaced by song. By the 17th century, caroling was restricted to Christmas time, and now, it's customary for kids to go caroling in groups from door to door, singing favorites such as "Hark, the Herald Angels Sing", "O Come All Ye Faithful", "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" and many more !

  2. Interesting Information About Origin And Background Of Christmas Carols

    With the advent of Christianity, people began giving their pagan celebrations a twist when they were asked to sing Christian hymns instead of pagan ones. In AD 129, it was a Roman Bishop who came up with the idea of singing a song, ‘Angel’s hymn’, at a Christmas service in Rome. Again in 760 AD, Comas of Jerusalem wrote a hymn for the Greek Orthodox Church. This kick-started a new tradition of singing hymns at Christmas services with many a composers writing and composing hymns. But the impediment was the language used in singing the hymns. This did not please the laymen as they did not understand the language. It was at this juncture that St. Francis of Assisi came out with a new plan.

    When St. Francis of Assisi came to learn that people had lost interest in religion, he tried to keep them together with his Nativity Plays in Italy. The plays were full of songs or canticles that told the story of Jesus Christ which got the attention of the masses. Though the language that was commonly used was Latin, other languages also were used so that the audience could join in. This soon spread like a pandemic to various other parts of Europe especially France, Germany and Spain.

    The first known carol, the kind of which is still in vogue was written in 1410. It was about how Mary and Joseph met different people in Bethlehem. Gradually, carols became popular with the common masses. Since then, the carols were written solely to entertain people. Seen as a source of mass entertainment, such songs were rarely sung at church services. Carol singers changed the words of their songs in accordance with the places they visited or travelled to.

    Singing Christmas carols was brought to a halt when Oliver Cromwell and the Puritans came to power in England. Nevertheless, the tradition of singing carols was still held in secret, keeping the passion alive. In the Victorian times, two men, William Sandys and David Gilbert did a great job by collecting old Christmas songs from English villages. They made it popular by singing them in public, and gave the kiss of life to carol singing.

    Before carol singing was made popular, there were only a set of people who were allowed to sing the carols, called the ‘Waits’. The Waits under the leadership of their team leader would sing carols and take money from the public. No one else other than the waits were supposed to sing the carols as otherwise they would be listed as beggars.

    Today, Christmas is a festival that is celebrated by people of different faiths. Keeping this in mind carol singers have come up with more secular compositions. With the world now a global village thanks to the internet and other forms of media, Christmas carols are no more Christian, they have become secular teaching every man something spiritual during Christmas.

  3. oh, thanks a lot for the link) karaoke is fun, no matter what your voice is) I've tried to sing a couple of songs, it made me think about magic time called New Year. Girls, can you believe that 34 days are left before it?! I'm looking forward to it really!