Thursday, 18 December 2008

18 December - What's your favourite Christmas Carol?

Some weeks ago, we asked, on this blog, what your favourite Christmas number 1 is. Well now we're asking - or rather Classic FM is asking - what is your favourite Christmas carol?

To have your say, visit the Classic FM website where you will be able to choose from a huge number of carols.

Personally, I find it hard to choose only one carol but I've always enjoyed the rather nonsensical I Saw Three Ships. It has the galloping rhythm that a song associated with dancing (which is what a carol really is) should have.

I Saw Three Ships is a traditional Christmas carol from England, and some sources assert that this song is "an upbeat variant of Greensleeves", which has a similar meter. The earliest printed version is from the 17th century, possibly Derbyshire.

The whole idea of ships having anything to do with Christmas probably comes from a carol sung during the Christmas holidays about the middle of the 16th century:

All sons of Adam, rise up with me,
Go praise the Blessed Trinitie, &c.
Then spake the Archangel Gabriel, said, Ave, Marie mild,
The Lord of Lords is with thee, now shall you go with child.
Ecce ancilla domini.
Then said the virgin, as thou hast said, so mat it be,
Welcome be heavens King.
There comes a ship far sailing then,
Saint Michael was the stieres-man;
Saint John sate in the horn:Our Lord harped, our Lady sang,
And all the bells of heaven they rang,
On Christ's sonday at morn, &c.

This carol is sometimes known as Christmas Day in the Morning. Joshua Sylvestre, in his Christmas Carols - Ancient and Modern (circa 1861), said that, 'It has always been a great favorite with the illiterate, and from its quaintness will be found not displeasing to the more refined.' So that's me told!

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