BOOK OF CHRISTMAS - online book

The Customs, Ceremonies, Traditions, Superstitions, Fun, Feeling,
And Festivities Of The Christmas Season.

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SIGNS OF THE SEASON.
125
practices, by the thunders of John Knox and his precisians,—and, we believe, has never been in any degree restored. We should add that there are numerous carols, for the Christmas season, scattered through the writings of our old poets,—-amongst whom Herrick may be mentioned as conspicuous.
But the most ample and curious published collection of Christ­mas carols with which we have met is that by Mr. Sandys,—to which we have so often alluded :—and from the text of this collection, we will give our readers one or two specimens of the quaint beauties which occasionally mingle in the curious texture of these old anthems. Mr. Sandys's collection is divided into two parts ; the first of which consists of ancient carols and Christmas songs, from the early part of the fifteenth to the end of the seven­teenth century. We wish that, in cases where the authorship belongs to so conspicuous a name as Herrick,—and, indeed, in all cases where it is ascertained,—the names of the authors had been prefixed. The second part comprises a selection from carols which the Editor states to be still used, in the west of England. We can inform him that many of these we have, ourselves, heard only some dozen years ago, screamed through the sharp evening air of Lancashire,—at the top pitch of voices that could, clearly, never have been given for any such purposes, " making night hideous,"—or, occasionally, filled the calm watches with the far lulling sounds of wild, sweet harmony. The practice, however, is, under any circumstances, full of fine meanings, that redeem the rudeness of performance,—and, for ourselves, we like the music, at its best and worst.
Of the festive songs we have already given occasional exam­ples, in the progress of this work,—and shall just now confine ourselves to extracts from those of a more religious character. From the old part of the collections before us, we will give a verse of a short carol, which,—while it will exhibit, in a very modified degree, the familiar tone in which the writers of these ancient songs dealt with the incidents of the sacred story,—is full of a tenderness arising out of that very manner of treatment. We give it, in the literal form in which we find it in this collec­tion—with the exception of extending an occasional cypher. It begins with a burthen :—
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