Christmas Carols

History of Carols

According to

The first known Christmas hymns may be traced to fourth century Rome. In the ninth and tenth centuries, the Christmas “Sequence” or “Prose” was introduced in Northern European monasteries and in the twelfth century the Parisian monk Adam of St. Victor began to derive music from popular songs, introducing something closer to the traditional Christmas carol.

In the thirteenth century, in France, Germany, and particularly, Italy, under the influence of Francis of Assisi a strong tradition of popular Christmas songs in regional native languages developed. Christmas carols in English first appear in a 1426 work by John Awdlay who lists twenty five “caroles of Cristemas”, sung by groups of wassailers or carol singers. The songs we know specifically as carols were originally communal songs sung during celebrations like harvest tide as well as Christmas. It was only later that carols begun to be sung in church, and to be specifically associated with Christmas.

“Joy to the World” was written by Isaac Watts based on the second half of Psalm 98. The song was first published in 1719 and became one of the most published Christmas hymn in North America.

Beginning August 22, 1741, George Frideric Handel composed “The Messiah” in only 21 days, as part of a series of concerts in Dublin to benefit charities. When it was performed in London, King George II stood to his feet during the singing of the “Hallelujah” chorus.

Another popular Christmas carol first published in 1751 was “O Come, All Ye Faithful,” originally written in Latin as “Adeste Fideles” (attributed to John F. Wade, music by John Reading)

“Hark! the Herald Angels Sing” was published in George Whitefield in 1754 as an adaptation of Charles Wesley’s “Hark how all the Welkin rings” original published in 1739. The music is by Lutheran composer Felix Mendelssohn.

Merry Christmas from

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