Once in royal David’s city


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Seventeen Christmas Carols, sung by the boys from the Choir of King’s College, Cambridge. An evergreen record (oh wow, the label is actually green), the classical Last Christmas. The liner notes say that the choir has sung them yearly since 1919, broadcast by the BBC since 1928. For generations of Brits this is what was meant with Christmas. But what are Christmas Carols?

The word Carol comes from the old French Carole, meaning a dance or a song. Or so the theory says. They were popular around the thirteenth century. In the protestant ceremony, music got a bigger place, and carols became popular. They were the layman’s version of sacred music: in the language of the people. They found a special place in the Anglican Church.

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