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Carols are a vital part of all things Christmas. From choirs to professional singers, everyone sings them during the holiday season. But these age-old melodies are more than just well-composed songs that instantly cheer everyone up.
Essentially, a Christmas carol--also known as a noel--is a song or hymn whose lyrics revolve around the theme of Christmas. These songs are traditionally sung just before Christmas.
The word 'carol' originated from the French word 'carole' meaning a song and a circle dance. It's safe to assume that the dancing part of a carol was abandoned a long time ago--leaving behind the melodious singing! Carols mostly have messages with some sort of religious significance.
There are several theories as to when the first carol was composed. However, it is widely believed that carol writing flourished between 1350 and 1550. It was during this golden era that most carols--at least the popular English ones--were written. Most of these carols followed a verse-refrain pattern of composition.
These musical verses became very popular as a form of religious expression around the 14th century, and they started getting recognized as an art form in the 15th century. This was mostly due to the reformation, which occurred in countries where Protestant churches gained prominence. It was also due to the fact that the Lutheran reformation welcomed music as a part of religious expression.
However, by the 16th century, carols' popularity waned and they almost disappeared until their grand revival in the 18th century. Most of the songs we are familiar with today--like 'Silent Night' and 'We Three Kings'--were written during this period.
Today, carols have become an integral part of the Christian faith's Christmas traditions. Happy Holidays!
Here's a classic carols that always evokes the Christmas spirit:
-Picture courtesy Thinkstock-
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