Bernice Three Column

Monday, December 26, 2011

Marvelous Music Monday Plus a Blog Hop


Today is the Second Day of Christmas
Christmas is not over until Epiphany
I am posting more traditional Christmas carols now since this is the real season of Christmas according to church calenders.

Good King Wenceslas
Sung by the Robert Shaw Chorus
The tune is originally that of an old spring carol, "Tempus adest floridium." In 1853 Neale substituted for the words of the carol his legend of Good Kin Wenzel, King of Bohemia from A.D. 928 to 935, who was celebrated for his many kind acts to the poor. -Fireside Book of Folk Songs

Angels We Have Heard on High
Sung by the Robert Shaw Chorus
Telesphorus, Bishop of Rome, A.D. 129, ordained that "In the Holy Night of the Nativity of our Lord and Saviour, all shall solemnly sing the "Angel's Hymn," which today exists in many versions, became the first Christmas hymn of the church.--Fireside Book of Folk Songs

The Twelve Days of Christmas
Sung by Ray Conniff and the Ray Conniff Singers (1962)

The Origin of the Twelve Days of Christmas

"You're all familiar with the Christmas song, "The Twelve Days of Christmas" I think. To most it's a delightful nonsense rhyme set to music. But it had a quite serious purpose when it was written.

It is a good deal more than just a repetitious melody with pretty phrases and a list of strange gifts.
Catholics in England during the period 1558 to 1829, when Parliament finally emancipated Catholics in England, were prohibited from ANY practice of their faith by law - private OR public. It was a crime to BE a Catholic.

"The Twelve Days of Christmas" was written in England as one of the "catechism songs" to help young Catholics learn the tenets of their faith - a memory aid, when to be caught with anything in *writing* indicating adherence to the Catholic faith could not only get you imprisoned, it could get you hanged, or shortened by a head - or hanged, drawn and quartered, a rather peculiar and ghastly punishment I'm not aware was ever practiced anywhere else. Hanging, drawing and quartering involved hanging a person by the neck until they had almost, but not quite, suffocated to death; then the party was taken down from the gallows, and disembowelled while still alive; and while the entrails were still lying on the street, where the executioners stomped all over them, the victim was tied to four large farm horses, and literally torn into five parts - one to each limb and the remaining torso.

The songs gifts are hidden meanings to the teachings of the faith. The "true love" mentioned in the song doesn't refer to an earthly suitor, it refers to God Himself. The "me" who receives the presents refers to every baptized person. The partridge in a pear tree is Jesus Christ, the Son of God. In the song, Christ is symbolically presented as a mother partridge which feigns injury to decoy predators from her helpless nestlings, much in memory of the expression of Christ's sadness over the fate of Jerusalem: "Jerusalem! Jerusalem! How often would I have sheltered thee under my wings, as a hen does her chicks, but thou wouldst not have it so..."

The other symbols mean the following:

1 Partridge in a Pear Tree = Jesus Christ, Son of God
2 Turtle Doves = The Old and New Testaments
3 French Hens = Faith, Hope and Charity, the Theological Virtues
4 Calling Birds = the Four Gospels and/or the Four Evangelists
5 Golden Rings = The first Five Books of the Old Testament, the "Pentateuch", which gives the history of man's fall from grace.
6 Geese A-laying = the six days of creation
7 Swans A-swimming = the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, the seven sacraments
8 Maids A-milking = the eight beatitudes
9 Ladies Dancing = the nine Fruits of the Holy Spirit
10 Lords A-leaping = the ten commandments
11 Pipers Piping = the eleven faithful apostles
12 Drummers Drumming = the twelve points of doctrine in the Apostle's Creed"


  1. So I don't understand why didn't you want to sign our linky. You have beautiful songs here. And let me tell you SHAME ON ME! I almost forgot about the 12 days of the Epiphany. I went to Catholic Kindergarten, grammar school & one yr. of catholic high school. You would think... well, anyway my mom use to try & leave our tree up until the feast of the three kings, but sometimes the real tree just didn't make it, so she waited at least until my Dad's birthday which was the 8th. Thanks for reminding me. I think I needed that. Bless you & have a blessed Christmas week.

  2. When I taught religion (Catholic) the poor little ones were so confused with Advent and the Christmas season. Trying to explain the church calendar and belief with the secular world and all that they are feeling was hard. I did my best to explain the religious/doctrine belief but never wanted to make them feel guilty, I don't think God worries about man made dates LOL I just tried to get the little ones to focus on being kind to each other and developing a spiritual life! Enjoy the rest of the Holiday Season and Merry Christmas!!
    P.S. My Family loves the Twelve Days of Christmas, it has turned into a wonderful singing tradition on Christmas Day!!

  3. Traditional Christmas songs are so beautiful! Don't fret, you didn't come off lecturing as you shared your preferances this week. In fact, I think it's wonderful when others dispaly their faith. Isn't CHRISTmas the reason for the season? =D Thanks for stopping by my blog. Have a lovely time in celebrating the New Year as it ushers in!

  4. I agree with Cathy completely! I did know about the 12 days of Christmas symbolizing those things in the Catholic faith (I couldn't remember them all, however) and think it is wonderful.
    Thanks for playing along with us all the time, looking forward to your music choices next year.
    Happy holidays to you and your family.

  5. Such a great post.
    I love the songs you've chosen.
    Thank you so much for linking up with us! I hope you had a wonderful Christmas!

    Enjoy the rest of the year!


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