POPULAR CHRISTMAS SONGS
Si vis musicam, pastorcs
Convocabo protinus ; Illis nulli sunt priores ;
Nemo canit castius. Millies tibi laudes canimus
Mille, mille, millies." 2I
Curious little poems are found in Latin and other languages, making a dialogue of the cries of animals at the news of Christ's birth.22 The following French example is fairly typical :—
" Comme les bestes autrefois
Parloient mieux latin que francois,
Le coq, de loin voyant le fait,
S'ecria : Christ us natus est.
Le boeuf, d'un air tout ebaubi,
Demande : Ubi? Ubi? Ubi?
La chevre, se tordant le groin,
Repond que e'est a Bethleem.
Maistre Baudet, curiosus
De Taller voir, dit : Eamus;
Et, droit sur ses pattes, le veau
Beugle deux fois : Volo, Volo ! " * 23
In Wales, in the early nineteenth century, carol-singing was more popular, perhaps, than in England ; the carols were sung to the harp, in church at the Plygain or early morning service on Christmas Day, in the homes of the people, and at the doors of the houses by visitors.24 In Ireland, too, the custom of carol-singing then prevailed.25 Dr. Douglas Hyde, in his " Religious Songs of Connacht," gives and translates an interesting Christmas hymn in Irish, from which two verses may be quoted. They set forth the great paradox of the Incarnation :—
" Little babe who art so great,
Child so young who art so old,
* A Bas-Quercy bird-carol of this kind is printed by Mr. H. J. L. J. Masse in his delightful " Book of Old Carols,"26 a collection of the words and music of Christmas songs in many languages—English, Latin, German, Flemish, Basque, Swedish, Catalan, Provencal, and French of various periods and dialects.