Carolling… or Caroling and Christmas Music – WoC 2013


By Marion Algier – The War on Christmas verses the Spirit of Christmas Series at AskMarion – 13

Carolling… or Caroling, both are used and both are correct.

Carols have been around since the 11th or 12th century, and singing in a type of caroling style actually goes back to Winter Solstice celebrations as people danced round stone circles.  Many of the patterns in carol music have held constant since the Middle Ages: Using the same verse and refrain structures, with an alternation between soloist and choral singing, according to Oxford Music Online’s entry on the subject, with Christmas carols often focusing on the Virgin Mary or the saints of Christmas.

Carols started out as primarily dance (the word carol originally meant to dance to something) and celebratory songs — a definite contrast to highbrow church pieces.   Christmas began to have its own music in the fourth century, but those songs were ordained by the church, sung in Latin, and no one much liked them; they were more doctrinal than festive. But Christmas carols as we know them essentially bridged the gap between sacred and popular music.

The man who freed the Christmas carol from this prison of poor taste was St. Francis of Assisi, one of the church’s gentlest but most crucial reformers. In the 13th century, Francis tried to break the Christmas celebration from its tedious husk, mostly by making the birth of Christ into a live theatrical event. He organized nativity pageants featuring real hay, real animals, and, for the first time, real music: Deviating from tradition, he allowed for narrative songs in audiences’ native languages, turning Christmas music into an opportunity for mainstream creativity. Drinking songs were given Yuletide lyrics (greatly to the church’s horror) and disseminated by traveling entertainers. Christmas began to take on a life of its own, beyond the exigencies of the sacred feast.

With the apex of the Industrial Revolution in about the 19th century came the revival of choral music, with more jobs and the formation of the middle class and people increasing their income, more time and a better musical education.  It was around this era that the more traditional Christmas songs such as “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” and “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen”  really took root among choral singers.

As carols became popular, carolling services were created, as did the custom of singing carols in the streets. Both of these customs are still popular today! One of the most popular types of Carols services are Carols by Candlelight services. At this service, the church is only lit by candlelight and it feels very Christmassy! Carols by Candlelight services are held in countries all over the world.

Perhaps the most famous carol service, is the service of Nine Lessons and Carols from King’s College in Cambridge, UK. This service takes place on Christmas Eve and is broadcast live on BBC Radio (and all over the world). For many it means Christmas has really started! The Service was first performed in 1918 as a way of the college celebrating the end of the First World War. It is always started with a single choir boy singing a solo of the first verse of the Carol ‘Once in Royal David’s City’. Sing along to Once in Royal David’s City! (on a different site) A service of Nine Lessons and Carols has nine bible readings (or lessons), that tell the Christmas story, with one or two carols between each lesson. Sometimes you get carol services which are a combination of nine lessons and carols and carols by candlelight! So you have nine lessons and carols by candlelight!

Today, popular artists capitalize on releasing Christmas albums because they are swept up in the commercial nature of the season. There are two carollingtimes in the year when choral musicians make a ton of money – around Christmas and around Easter, since celebration is associated with music and music performance.

Three of the most popular ‘modern day’ carolling songs are White Christmas, Jingle Bells and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer [classic]. Both popular and sacred carols and songs mixed together in a Christmas-y medley define the modern day word ‘caroling’.

Since the 1950’s many Rock and Role artists have put their own spin on Christmas classics.  One of the most famous versions of Jingle Bells, the Jingle Bell Rock, is a complete new song.  And artists from Andy Williams to Elvis Presley and Johnnie Mathis to most recently Rod Steward have recorded their versions of the classics and hymns with their own spin.

Best Christmas Songs Playlist

3 Hour Medley of Christmas Songs

The 12 Pains of Christmas Video  –  Humorous

And if at all possible every Christmas season should include a trip to a live performance of Handel’s Messiah; the Nutcracker ballet; a Christmas nativity pageant featuring real hay, real animals, and real music; the Mormon Tabernacle Choice or the famous NY Radio City Hall Rockettes, plus a Christmas Eve service that incorporates lots of music.

A new addition to caroling are Christmas Carol flash mobs in malls.

Video: Flash Mob Christmas Carol at Mall – MUST SEE!

Video: Two Little Girls Who Fought and Won the Battle in the ‘War On Christmas’ – 12/10/13

December 10th, 2013 in Vancouver, WA: Two young girls who were trying to spread holiday cheer were kicked off of a grocery store’s property for singing Christmas carols. The retail scrooge wasn’t allowed off the hook though, as this story explains.


Adopt a Pet This Christmas… Or Give Someone a New Forever Friend – WoC 2013

Best Christmas Season Movie Classics – WoC 2013

Santa Photos… Often Yesterday’s Oooops Are Tomorrow’s Treasures! – WoC 2013

Christmas Lights – WoC 2013

Nativity Scenes and Glories – The Reason For the Season – WoC 2013

European Markets or Christkindlmarkts Capture the Christmas Spirit – WoC 2013

St. Nickolas Day – WoC 2013

Hanukkah… The Jewish Festival of Lights – WoC 2013

God Rest Ye Merry Merchants – Christmas: An American Holiday and Tradition to Love and Preserve – WoC 2013

Where Does the War on Christmas Come From? A Worthwhile Read – WoC 2013

The War on Christmas verses the Spirit of Christmas Series 2013 at AskMarion – WoC 2013 

Advent – The Season of Anticipation and Hope – WoC 2013

Sending Holiday Season Regards to our Conservative Warriors

ANOTHER FAILED IDEA: Woman gets laughed at after bringing up Obamacare at Thanksgiving…

The Twelve Days of ObamaCare

Huckabee’s ’12 Days Of ObamaCare’

Disney scores big with biblical values

The Thanksgiving Illusion

Obama Thanksgiving and Christmas Disgrace

Keeping Pets Safe for the Holidays: The “Not So Safe” or No-No Pet Food List

Sarah Palin on Politics and Religion • 11/10/13 With Susan Page

The Cross – Billy Graham’s Message To America

Citizenship and Church Membership

Two great new books for the holidays: ‘Good Tidings and Great Joy: Protecting the Heart of Christmas’ (Kindle) and The Romney Family Table: Sharing Home-Cooked Recipes & Favorite Traditions (Kindle) Plus: Losing Our Religion(Kindle) by atheist S. E. Cupp

About Ask Marion

I am a babyboomer and empty nester who savors every moment of my past and believes that it is the responsibility of each of us in my generation and Americans in general to make sure that America is as good or even a better place for future generations as it was for us. So far... we haven't done very well!! Favorite Quotes: "The first 50 years are to build and acquire; the second 50 are to leave your legacy"; "Do something that scares you every day!"; "The journey in between what you once were and who you are becoming is where the dance of life really takes place". At age 62 I find myself fighting inoperable uterine Cancer and thanks to the man upstairs and the prayers from so many people including many of my readers from AskMarion and JustOneMorePet... I'm beating it. After losing our business because of the economy and factors related to the re-election of President Obama in 2012 followed by 16-mos of job hunting, my architect-trained husband is working as a trucker and has only been home approximately 5-days a month since I was diagnosed, which has made everything more difficult and often lonely... plus funds are tight. Our family medical deductible is 12K per year for two of us; thank you ObamaCare. But thanks to donations from so many of you, we are making ends meet as I go through treatment while taking care of my father-in-law who is suffering from late stage Alzheimer's and my mother-in-law who suffers from RA and onset dementia as well as hearing loss, for which there are no caretaker funds, as I continue the fight here online to inform and help restore our amazing country. And finally I need to thank a core group of family, friends, and readers... all at a distance, who check in with me regularly. Plus, I must thank my furkids who have not left my side through this fight. You can see them at JustOneMorePet.
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