The Legend of Caroling

A carol is a song of rejoicing associated with festive occasions and religious celebrations. The word originally meant a circle dance accompanied by a song. Carols have carried on the glad tidings of Christmas since medieval times.

Many Christmas carols were written in the 15th century. Unlike hymns, carols are often light and gay. According to one legend, the very first carol was sung by the angels announcing Christ's birth to the shepherds.

Some say the tradition of caroling began as early as the 1400s when wandering minstrels performed songs in exchange for donations to be given to the needy. Later, the English night watchmen would sing while making their rounds at holiday times. In the United States, carols were limited to church until about 100 years ago. At that time, the practice of singing door to door became popular.

In the mid 17th century when the celebration of Christmas was banned, the carols might have been lost forever. But the carols were kept alive for almost 200 years by people singing them in private. With the invention of inexpensive printing processes in the 1800s, traditional carols were published in book form.

The origins of many popular carols, including "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" and "The First Noel," are unknown. One of the most famous carols, "Silent Night," was written in Austria by Josef Mohr and church organist, Franz Gruber when the church organ malfunctioned on Christmas Eve. Hurriedly Mohr wrote the song and asked Gruber to pick out a guitar accompaniment.


Here We Come a Wassailing

Here we come a-wassailing
Among the leaves so green,
Here we come a wand'ring,
So fair to be seen.

Chorus: Love and joy come to you,
And to your wassail too,
And God bless you and send you a happy new year,
And God send you a happy new year.

We are not daily beggars
Who beg from door to door,
But we are neighbor's children

Whom you have seen before.


We have a little purse
Made of ratching leather skin;
We want some of your small change
To line it well within.


God bless the Master of this house,
Likewise the Mistress too;
And all the little children
That round the table go.