My Favorite (Obscure) Christmas Carols

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been playing the Christmas Playlist since doing the dishes on Thanksgiving Day.  I’ve really enjoyed putting a playlist together on Spotify, and if you’d like to listen, click here. Trust me, you won’t find anything like “Last Christmas,” or “Santa Baby,” or (worst song ever) Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You.” Instead, you will find a good assortment of traditional carols, religious hymns, and familiar Christmas songs from Bing Crosby to Pentatonix.

I’ve noticed, however, that there are some songs that I love to sing at Christmas that aren’t too familiar to those around me.  I thought I’d share here a list of some of what are probably the more obscure carols that are favorites of mine.  I’ll try to give a brief explanation of the carol, and a link to youtube so you can listen in. Enjoy!

The Coventry Carol – Lully Lullay

The “Coventry Carol” is a traditional English carol dating from the 16th century. While its origins are uncertain, it is presumed that the carol was a part of a mystery play called The Pageant of the Shearmen and Tailors, which depicted the Christmas story from Matthew 2. The carol itself refers to the Massacre of the Innocents, in which Herod ordered all male infants under the age of two in Bethlehem to be killed, and takes the form of a lullaby sung by mothers of the doomed children.

Bring a Torch, Jeanette, Isabella

“Bring a Torch” is a Christmas carol from the Provence region of France in the 17th century. The song tells of two female farmhands who have found the baby and his mother in a stable. Excited by this discovery, they run to a nearby village to tell the inhabitants, who rush to see the new arrivals. Visitors to the stable are urged to keep their voices quiet, so the newborn can enjoy his dreams.

Wexford Carol

The Wexford Carol is a traditional religious Irish Christmas carol sometimes known by its first verse “Good people all this Christmas time.” It is one of the oldest extant Christmas carols, dating possibly to the 12th century.

Sussex Carol

Sometimes referred to by its first line “On Christmas night all Christians sing,” the Sussex Carol dates from the 17th century, and sings of the good news of great joy that comes with the brith of the One who would save us from our sins.

Lo How A Rose E`er Blooming

Wikipedia reports: “Es ist ein Ros entsprungen” (lit., “A rose has sprung up”), is a Christmas carol and Marian Hymn of German origin. It is most commonly translated in. The rose in the text is a symbolic reference to the Virgin Mary, and the hymn makes reference to the Old Testament prophecies of Isaiah which in Christian interpretation foretell the Incarnation of Christ, and to the Tree of Jesse, a traditional symbol of the lineage of Jesus. The hymn first appeared in print in 1599.

Children Go Where I Send Thee

“Children, Go Where I Send Thee” is a traditional African-American spiritual song, as well as a cumulative song, in which each verse adds to the verse before. This song is also known as “The Holy Baby” or “Born in Bethlehem.” There are many variations of this song, each giving a Biblical meaning to the numbers mentioned.

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About reveds

Occupation: Pastor, Ebenezer Presbyterian Church, Lennox, SD Education: BS - Christian Education, Sterling College; MDiv. - Princeton Theological Seminary Family: Married, with Four children. Hobbies: Running (will someday run a marathon), Sci-Fi (especially Doctor Who and Sherlock), Theater, and anything else my kids will let me do.
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