Monday, December 30, 2013

Forty Days of Christmas? Oh, Yeah!

I agree with A Clerk of Oxford:

As a lover of carols, I'm much in favour of the medieval practice of keeping Christmas celebrations going all through the dark days of January, so today I thought I would post a carol which encourages us to keep singing throughout this season. It runs through not just the twelve days of Christmas but also the forty days of the Christmas season, all the way up to Candlemas, the Feast of the Purification, on February 2. It's a fifteenth-century carol (from Bodleian MS Eng. poet. e. I), and the unmodernised text can be found on this site, which also lists the various feasts mentioned: St Stephen on the 26th, St John on the 27th, the Holy Innocents on the 28th, St Thomas Becket on the 29th (check back soon for more carols about him!), the Circumcision of Christ on January 1st, Epiphany and Candlemas.

Make we mirth
For Christ's birth,
And sing we Yule til Candlemas.

1. The first day of Yule have we in mind,
How God was man born of our kind;
For he the bonds would unbind
Of all our sins and wickedness.

2. The second day we sing of Stephen,
Who stoned was and rose up even
To God whom he saw stand in heaven,
And crowned was for his prowess. [bravery]

3. The third day belongeth to Saint John,
Who was Christ's darling, dearer none,
To whom he entrusted, when he should gone, [when he had to die]
His mother dear for her cleanness. [purity]

4. The fourth day of the children young,
Whom Herod put to death with wrong;
Of Christ they could not tell with tongue,
But with their blood bore him witness.

5. The fifth day belongeth to Saint Thomas,
Who, like a strong pillar of brass,
Held up the church, and slain he was,
Because he stood with righteousness.

6. The eighth day Jesu took his name,
Who saved mankind from sin and shame,
And circumcised was, for no blame,
But as example of meekness.

7. The twelfth day offered to him kings three,
Gold, myrrh, and incense, these gifts free,
For God, and man, and king was he,
Thus worshipped they his worthiness.

8. On the fortieth day came Mary mild,
Unto the temple with her child,
To show herself clean, who never was defiled,
And therewith endeth Christmas.

Read the rest of the commentary here.

And this year, Candlemas is on Sunday!

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