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Old 11-30-2012, 08:26 PM
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Coventry Carol
Carols emerged relatively late in the history of Christianity
in Britain - anything terpsichorean being frowned upon until
the end of the dark ages. Thus the earliest song in this collection,
Veni Veni Emmanuel, which dates from the 7th century, is pure
'church.' However as the church relaxed its stance, carols, sung
to dance tunes, began to be more respectable and by the time
the spirit of modern humanism had permeated the Middle Ages,
they even became respectable. This despite the fact that pagan
symbols of fertility and solstice customs were openly incorporated
into carols such as The Holly and the Ivy and The Sans Day Carol
(Holly Bears a Berry.) Later hymns are often mistakenly called
carols, but they have quite different characteristics and tend to
use heavier tunes, more reminiscent of hard wooden pews than
village dances.

Lullay My Liking

Somerset Wassail
Wassaliing is a set of customs broadly concerning wishing a
prosperous and fruitful year to neighbours and friends, their
domestic animals and their crops. Somerset, in particular, has
a custom of wassailing the apple trees to produce a fruitful
crop of apples for cider-making. Each year on the 17th of
January (old "Twelfth Night") the people of Somerset wassail
their apple trees by placing toast (dipped in cider) into the
branches of the tree and pouring a libation of cider round the
rood of the tree for the good spirits, then firing shotguns into
the branches of the tree to dive away the bad spirits and so
ensure a fine crop of cider apples in the summer ahead. Yes,
it still happens, even in the twenty-first century.

Sussex Carol
It's been around for at least three centuries and is classed as
traditional even though the words were first published by an
Irish (Franciscan) bishop, Luke Wadding, in 'A Small Garland
of Pious and Godly Songs', (Gent 1684) without making it clear
whether it was his own work or whether he was recording an
even earlier composition. What is certain is that the version
we sing today was collected by Cecil Sharp and Ralph Vaughan
Williams in Sussex England from the singing of Harriet Verrall
of Monk's Gate, and first Published in 1919 in Eight Traditional

God's Grandeur' Gerard Manly Hopkins 1877 read by Samuel West
Music "The Quiet Life" composed and performed by Oliver Wakeman

Veni Veni Emmanuel

Yule Winter Soltice
Holly King / Santa Claus: There are as many theories of a
"historical" Santa Clause (or "Saint Nicholas") as there are
ethnic cultures. As an Keltic folk archetype however, the old
man wreathed in holly is the Holly King. He represents the
"waning year", the "old year", or the "dark half" of the year.
At winter solstice the Oak King (or the Sun, or the New Year)
is born, and the Holly King's reign is over. Mistletoe: The
mistletoe was sacred to the Druids. The custom of kissing
under the mistletoe may derive from the custom of enemies
refraining from killing each other if they should happen to meet
under its sacred branches. Presumably the custom became
friendlier and friendlier with time. Other scholars say that the
lusty connotations of the plant derive from the belief that the
clusters of white translucent berries were drops of the God's
(or the Oak King's) semen. The Oak King takes the place of
the Holly King, and rules the waxing year, or the "New Year
Candles: The extinguishing of candles at winter solstice rituals
(including Amaltheia's) represents the deep darkness of the
longest night. Their relighting shows us that the light will
return to us. In the moments of total darkness, we are
"between the worlds": between the old year's death and the
new year's conception. Yule Log: The word "yule" is from the
Saxon word for "wheel". The Yule Log,O.E. geol, geola
"Christmas Day, Christmastide," from O.N. jol (pl.), a heathen
feast, later taken over by Christianity, of unknown origin. The
O.E. (Anglian) cognate giuli was the Anglo-Saxons' name for a
two-month midwinter season corresponding to Roman
December and January, a time of important feasts but not
itself a festival. Burned at Midwinter, is a magical bridge between
one year and the next. The fire under the Yule log is lit with a
piece of last year's Yule Log, symbolizing the continuity of the
cycles of life. The ashes of the Yule log were scattered on the
fields to ensure fertility

Celtic Winter Soltice

((((((( A Wish for All )))))))
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