History of the Christmas Carol

History Storytime - For Kids

Dec 20 2021 • 6 mins

Sophie (age 8) and Ellie (age 6) tell the history of the Christmas Carol.

Songs used to be sung by pagans thousands of years ago to celebrate the Winter Solstice. Christmas was at the same time as the Winter Solstice so the Church carried on with the singing but instead made the songs about Christmas.

The first Christmas Carol we know of was from 2000 years ago and was called the Angels Hymn. All the early carols were in Latin and over time people stopped speaking Latin – and they stopped singing the Latin carols.

Then around 800 years ago a monk called St Francis of Assisi wrote the first nativity play. He had songs in the play to make it more interesting. He also had these songs in people’s own language so they could understand it.

Many of the songs became so popular that Minstrels would sing them. Many of the carols from his period have survived. While Shepherds watched their flocks by night is over 500 years old.

However, 400 years ago in England the Puritans came to power. They were very serious. They chopped off the King’s head and they banned Christmas and the singing of carols. People liked carols so much that they carried on singing them in secret when they were not in Churches. This is where the tradition of carol singers comes from.

Different carols came from different places.

150 years ago someone in America wrote Away in a Manger. People thought is was written by a famous holy man called Martin Luther, but it probably was not.

The carol Come all ye faithful was written about 300 years ago. Many people think that it remembers the old Stuart kings who used to rule England.

The most famous Carol story though is from World War One. British and German soldiers were fighting in the trenches. The fighting was very bloody.

Then on Christmas Eve the German trenches were decorated with candles and lights. The British were confused. Then they heard the Germans singing Silent night in German. The British sang back The First Noel. Slowly the British and German soldiers came out of the trenches. They stopped fighting and celebrated Christmas together in the middle of a war.

We are taking a Christmas break ourselves. Sophie and Ellie’s mummy works in the hospital and things are a little busy there at the moment. So we will be back with more History Storytime episodes in the New Year.

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