Spirit of Festival: What Lies Behind the Carol, The West Australian, 24 December 1937
Apprentices, book, carol, celebration, Christian tradition, Christmas, Christmas Carols, dancing, drinking songs, festival, festivity, Greccio, medieval custom, melodies, merriment, Miracle plays, Mystery plays, popular tunes, puritan, religious lyrics, revival, singing, song, St Francis of Assisi, tradition, Wynken de Worde.
This article from The West Australian traces the history of Christmas carols back to the medieval period. It dates their origin to the beginning of the thirteenth century, when Francis of Assisi taught children to dance around a model of the manger in the Italian village of Greccio. Subsequently, they were introduced into England through the Mystery and Miracle plays. Although religious in content, the article notes with amusement that the carols were often set to the tune of drinking songs, presumably because they were familiar. Carols and the dances that accompanied them remained popular, the article claims, until Puritan edicts forbade Christmas festivities and all manner of celebration in the seventeenth century. Their survival is credited here to two nineteenth-century English clergymen, who translated a Swedish book of medieval melodies in 1853 and succeeded in reviving interest in carols and old folk songs more generally.
TROVE: The National Library, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article41601916
The West Australian
24 December 1937, p.15