The world celebrates Christmas on 25 December (Sunday) as a religious holiday marking the birth of Jesus Christ, the son of God. This tradition is hundreds of years old and many groups are still trying to keep the idea of caroling alive.
History of carols
Earlier, carols were passed on from one generation to another by word of mouth until the 16th century. Initially, carols had no connection with Christmas. The poor used to sing carols outside the doors of wealthy people in order to receive food and drink from them. The songs had nothing to do with the festival, but it was a way to wish everyone good health and cheer.
Origin of the Christmas carol service
The Christmas carol service was invented in Truro, England by Bishop Edward White Benson in 1880. As per BBC, the carol service came into existence when Bishop of Truro, White Benson became angry at people as they were drunk on Christmas Eve and unwilling to come to church for Midnight Mass.
The bishop started the service to lure the people to church. In 1880, Benson did not have a cathedral and the prayers were held under a large shed. Benson was Archbishop of Canterbury from 1883 until his death in 1896. Carols were basically folk songs and folk dances, it meant “to dance in a ring”.
Genesis of some famous carols
Interestingly, some famous carols were made due to the threat of war. The carol Do You Hear What I Hear? was composed by Gloria Shayne in 1962 as a plea for peace during the Cuban Missile Crisis.
The carol Hark! The Herald Angels Sing, was initially written as a poem in 1739 by preacher Charles Wesley. The words were later found to be a fit for famed composer Felix Mendelssohn's song, that celebrated four centuries of the printing press.
Jingle Bells, one of the most famous carols ever known, was initially intended as a song for Thanksgiving, when it was written in 1850s.
The famed carol The Twelve Days of Christmas originated in the 17th century when Christmas was banned in England by the Puritans. The Catholics created a code using the song so that they could continue to take part in the festivities.