2016 Anne Boleyn Files Advent Calendar

December 18: Christmas Carols

I love Christmas Carols! Although I enjoy modern Christmas songs like "Rocking around the Christmas tree", nothing puts me in the Christmas mood better than old, traditional Christmas carols.

The Coventry Carol dates back to Tudor times, to 1534. It was written by Robert Croo and was performed in the city of Coventry, in the Midlands, in the mystery play called "The Pageant of the Shearmen and Tailors" on 28th December, Holy Innocents' Day or Childermas. Childermas commemorated the massacre of the baby boys, those Holy Innocents, that King Herod ordered in Bethlehem, in an attempt to kill the infant Jesus Christ. The innocent babies were seen by the Catholic Church as the very first martyrs. The carol refers to this event:

"Herod the King, in his raging,
Charged he hath this day;
His men of might, in his own sight,
All children young, to slay."

Enjoy this video of the Coventry Carol being performed by the choir of King's College, Cambridge:

Here are the lyrics in the original spelling:

Lully, lulla, thow littell tine child,
By by, lully, lullay thow littell tyne child,
By by, lully, lullay!

O sisters too, how may we do
For to preserve this day
This pore yongling for whom we do singe
By by, lully, lullay?

Herod, the king, in his raging,
Chargid he hath this day
His men of might in his owne sight
All yonge children to slay,—

That wo is me, pore child, for thee,
And ever morne and may
For thi parting nether say nor singe,
By by, lully, lullay.