Christmas Carols or ‘Noel' stands for all that Christmas symbolizes. From Birth of Jesus in manger, jingling bells of church, joyfulness with family to arrival of Santa in his sledge, all is woven in beautiful Christmas carols. Just hum the melody of "Jingle Bells" and most people will immediately paint a picture of snowflakes, reindeers, angels and Christmas bells. Singing and listening to melodious and enchanting Christmas carols has been an important part of Christmas tradition. Delightful and joyful Christmas carols fills heart with fun and gaiety. Did you know that the word ‘carol' is a French word, which defines a form of dance, performed accompanied with music?
Origin Of Christmas Carols
It is unknown, when the first Carol was written, who wrote them and how they evolved. A common legend says that the name Christmas Carol has originated after a young girl called Carol went missing in London in 19th century. As her friends went from door to door searching for her, in similar manner as of Christmas Singers, the name Christmas Carol originated. Though it's a nice story but not factual.
Caroling has been an oral tradition passed down generation to generation. It was in thirteenth century, under the influence of Francis of Asissi that a strong tradition of popular Christmas songs in native language developed in Italy. Thought at this time, carols were sung as common harvest songs and also during Christmas Celebrations. During fourteenth to fifteenth century, Christmas carols took form of religious songs and themes revolved around birth of Christ and Mother Mary.
When in 16th century, Oliver Cromwell came to power, Christmas celebrations and Carol singing was banned. He believed that Christmas is a serious holiday and should be observed in the same way. However, carols survived as people continued to sing them in secret.
Christmas carol singing regained popularity in 19th century. Popular carols like "It Came Upon the Midnight Clear", "The First Nowell, the Angel Did Say", and "God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen" were created during this period of fame of the Christmas Carols.
Before carol singing in public became popular in nineteenth century, there were bands of official carol singers called 'Waits', who sang Christmas carols only on Christmas Eve. In due time, orchestras, and choirs gained popularity, as did the custom of singing carols in the streets.
Both these customs are still popular! However, today, one of the most popular carol services is Carols by Candlelight, when the church is lit by candlelight and fascinating carols are sung.
Today, in many European countries, there is a tradition of groups of people going from door to door and singing outside the houses. Such groups of Carol singers are rewarded for bringing joy in to the heart of listeners by offering food and drink.
‘Jingle Bells Jingle Bells' or 'We Wish You a Merry Christmas', just hearing these cheerful Christmas carols makes you feel happier. It rings the bell that Christmas is just round the corner!
Popular Christmas Carols
Hundreds of Christmas carols have been written and published over centuries. Below mentioned are the few, which have gained popularity over the ages:
Silent night is considered as one of the most famous of all Christmas carols. The legend says that 180 years ago, at a midnight mass in St. Nicholas Church in Austria, the first time carol "Stille Nacht! Heilige Nacht" was heard. On that Christmas eve, a song was born which made his way in to the hearts of people all round the world.
Joy To The World
Joy to the World is a popular Christmas carol, which celebrates the birth of Baby Jesus:
"Joy to the world, the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King"
These popular lyrics were written by Isaac Watts, based on Psalm 98 in the Bible
The Twelve Days of Christmas
The Twelve Days of Christmas is an English Christmas carol which enumerates on the series of increasingly grand gifts given on each of the twelve days of Christmas:
"On the first day of Christmas
my true love sent to me:
A Partridge in a Pear Tree
On the second day of Christmas
my true love sent to me:
Two Turtle Doves
and a Partridge in a Pear Tree"
Christmas without Christmas carols doesn't sound fun! Read more to know about the history of Christmas Carols.