Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Merry Christmas - Then and Now

by Connie Cortright

Many of the favorite Christmas songs that we hear today have been around for much longer than the era of the 20s and 30s. "Silent Night" was written in the 1800s and is still one of the best known hymns during this season.

"We Wish You a Merry Christmas" is much older than that. This traditional English Christmas carol might have been sung as far back as the late Middle Ages by carolers who were hired to sing for wealthy English landlords. The carolers would receive treats at the end of the singing session. Thus, the line in the song "Now bring us some figgy pudding..."

The caroling was done in the mid 1600s because Oliver Cromwell banned Christmas songs from being sung in churches. That way the carolers kept the songs alive in peoples' hearts. I'm so glad we have the religious freedom to sing these in our churches today. I can't imagine Christmas without the wonderful carols we sing.

Figgy pudding is another English tradition - a pudding similar to our type of dessert, but made out of figs. No surprise there! It was an old tradition to have this type of dessert at the Christmas holidays so it made it into the song.

Now, what does all this have to do with this blog site since we are usually talking about the early 20th century. "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" was arranged by Arthur Warrell in 1939 into the version that is most often sung by choirs today along with supporting orchestra. I'll link it here to a Youtube version of his arrangement:   Christmas arranged by Arthur Warrell

I do wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas found in the message of the babe in Bethlehem.

Information taken from History - Wish Merry Christmas

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