Most Popular Victorian Christmas Carols
Brief historical notes of the most popular Christmas Victorian Carols that include Silent Night, The First Noël, The Wassail Song, and God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen.
As the Christmas Season approaches, everyone is busy shopping for gifts, sending Christmas cards, or has started renewing relationships from the hectic work life through the year.
To some, Christmas is also a time for reflection to recapture the true spirit of Yuletide. It is also a time to revisit historical facts and bits of Christmas information from many years gone by. For instance, it is interesting to find out what were the most popular Christmas Carols during the Victorian era. Some of these are songs which are easily recognizable and sung each Christmas time.
God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen
“God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen” was immensely popular then, and it is still now. It is even mentioned by Charles Dickens in his famous A Christmas Carol. It is regarded to have been sung by the wondering groups of singers called “waits,” bands of singers who also carried the news of the day in towns acting as “town criers.” They were rewarded for their efforts as they sing. Another popular song along with this is “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.”
“Jacob’s Ladder” is an English folk music was popularized in 1871 through Henry Ramsden Bramley and John Stainer’s widely used “Christmas Carols New and Old.”
“Silent Night” dates back as far as 1818 when Pastor Joseph Mohr of St. Nicholas Church in Oberdorf decided that he needed a carol for the Crhistmas Eve service and used a short poem he had written earlier. Franz Xavier Grüber, the church organist and choir master, wrote the tune. It has become extremely popular since then.
The Cherry Tree Carol
“The Cherry Tree Carol” is one of the most popular Victorian carols, often sung to several melodies. This song is said to date back as early as 1400. It has survived for many years and still sung all over Britain.
The First Noël
“The First Noël” is a very popular carol like “Silent Night” and is believed to date back to the 1600s. Its origin is not certain, but the first printed words were found in David Gilbert’s Some Ancient Christmas Carols, 1823.
The Holly and the Ivy
“The Holly and the Ivy” is a universally popular traditional Christmas carol, with lyrics suggesting possible pagan pre-Chistin origins. It is also regarded as the most lightly Christianized carols. Holly and ivy are Christian decorations for church use especially during the early 15th and 16th centuries.
The Praise of Christmas
“The Praise of Christmas” was collected in the mid-1800s by E.F. Rimbault, although the lyrics are at least 100 years older.
The Wassail Song
“The Wassail Song” was popularized by Stainer with many variant verses sung to the same melody dating back to Elizabethan times, from Sandy’s 1833 collection. The most well-known wassail song version is “Here We Come A-Wassailing” which replaced “Here We Come A-Carolling.”
Through the years, since being published and widely used, these Victorian carols have become very popular and recognizable, conveying the joys of Christmas.