The Origin of Christmas Carols

It is uncertain when Christmas carols originated.  Christmas carols have a long history in Poland, with the oldest dating to the 15th century.  In the UK carol singing came into its own in Victorian times, with the advent of the Victorian Christmas.  This was when Christmas became a holiday families could enjoy, and celebrate, and music in the home was a large part of the celebrations, with singing carols after the Christmas meal becoming a tradition.

It is also unclear when the tradition of going from house to house carol singing began, but it is thought that it may have its origins in medieval times, when watches – which included musicians – patrolled England’s towns to keep order. Lincoln, for example, had a group of waits until around 1850.  In his short story The Seven Poor Travellers (1854), Charles Dickens describes a group of musicians performing in a town one winter’s evening.

For children the most popular Christmas carols are those that remind us of the Nativity scene, including:

  • “Away In A Manger”
  • “O Holy Night”
  • “O Little Town Of Bethlehem”
  • “Mary’s Boy Child”
  • “The Holly And The Ivy”

We will be singing some of these at our Carol Concert on 13th December, so in case you would like to practise with your child, we thought you may like the words to Away In A Manger:

Away in a manger
No crib for a bed
The little Lord Jesus
Lay down his sweet head
The stars in the sky
Look down where he lay
The little Lord Jesus
Asleep on the hay
The cattle are lowing
The poor baby wakes
But little Lord Jesus
No crying he makes
I love thee Lord Jesus
Look down from the sky
And stay by my cradle
‘Til morning is nigh