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Quiz about Christmas Carol Trivia Sacred Carols
Quiz about Christmas Carol Trivia Sacred Carols

Christmas Carol Trivia: Sacred Carols Quiz


An assortment of little-known and fascinating facts about some of the most beloved sacred Christmas hymns and carols. Enjoy & Merry Christmas!

A multiple-choice quiz by jouen58. Estimated time: 10 mins.
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Author
jouen58
Time
10 mins
Type
Multiple Choice
Quiz #
153,898
Updated
Dec 03 21
# Qns
20
Difficulty
Difficult
Avg Score
10 / 20
Plays
4673
Awards
Top 5% quiz!
Last 3 plays: sher0404 (8/20), Rumpo (17/20), Guest 2 (8/20).
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Question 1
1. Although hearing the melody of this 18th century English carol automatically inspires Yuletide thoughts, the lyrics make no mention of the manger, the town of Bethlehem, Mary and Joseph, the ox and ass, the angels, the wise men, the shepherds, or the star. In fact, the carol never actually mentions the birth of Christ, only his coming. Hint


Question 2
2. This beloved Christmas hymn was originally in Latin, though it is usually sung in an English translation. It dates from the 18th century and a variation of the melody was once used in a French comic opera. It is nearly always used as the entrance hymn at Christmas services and masses. Hint


Question 3
3. It grieves me to disprove a charming and well-loved Christmas story, but there was actually nothing wrong with the organ of the parish church of Obendorf, Austria, on the Christmas Eve of 1818 when this beloved carol was hastily composed. The singing of a folk-like song with guitar accompaniment was a long-standing tradition. Which carol am I talking about? Hint


Question 4
4. The text of this majestic carol was written by Charles Wesley, the brother of John Wesley (the founder of Methodism). The melody to which it is nearly always sung is by the great German composer Felix Mendelssohn, who originally wrote the tune as part of a piece d'occasion commemorating the anniversary of the invention of the printing press. Hint


Question 5
5. This carol originated among American Lutherans in the late nineteenth century and has frequently (and incorrectly) been called "Luther's Cradle Hymn". Ironically, this misattribution to Luther seems to have originated with the carol's creators. It is believed to have begun as a recited poem from a Christmas play (presented by a Lutheran church group) to which music was later added. Which is it? Hint


Question 6
6. This carol is actually a French operatic-style concert aria whose original title was "Cantique du Noel". Its composer was of the Jewish faith and is best known (apart from this piece) for having written the score of the ballet "Giselle". The lyricist created a scandal later in life by embracing socialism, which (along with the revelation that the composer was Jewish) caused the piece to be condemned by the archbishop of Paris. Hint


Question 7
7. The melody of this carol dates from the latter half of the 16th century and is one of the most beloved English folk ballads. It has sometimes been (wrongly) attributed to Henry VIII and is mentioned in Shakespeare's "The Merry Wives of Windsor". Hint


Question 8
8. The lyrics of this carol are by the 19th century American Unitarian minister Edmund Sears. In America, it is sung to a melody by organist Richard Storrs Willis; in England, they use a tune composed by Sir Arthur Sullivan (of Gilbert and Sullivan fame). The carol's lyrics speaks of mankind's unwillingness to heed the angel's message of peace and goodwill; ironically, it was penned only ten years before the outbreak of the Civil War. Hint


Question 9
9. This Christmas hymn began as a poem written by Lewis Redner, rector of Holy Trinity church in Philadelphia in 1868. It was inspired by a visit to the Holy Land three years earlier, during which Redner had made a pilgrimage to the field of the Annunciation to the Shepherds. Redner asked Phillips Brooks, a composer friend of his, to set it to music. When, by Christmas Eve, Brooks had failed to come up with a suitable melody, he fell into an exhausted slumber and conceived the tune in a dream. Which of these carols boasts this romantic provenance? Hint


Question 10
10. This quintessentially English carol is set to a tune entitled "Chestnut", of which there are several versions. It is the only Christmas carol mentioned by name in Dickens' "A Christmas Carol"; a small boy begins to sing it at Scrooge's window, but flees when the old miser seizes a ruler and rises from his desk. It is sung throughout England to a number of different tunes and there are numerous variations of both the text and the traditional melody. Which is it? Hint


Question 11
11. Both words and music to this well-known carol were written by Pennsylvania clergyman John Henry Hopkins, rector of Christ's Church in Williamsport, as part of an 1865 collection simply titled "Hymns, Carols, and Songs". It was originally scored for three male voices, organ (or piano), and four-part chorus for the refrain. Although often sung at Christmas, it is more appropriate for the feast of the Epiphany. Hint


Question 12
12. This carol is of French origin and is famous for the florid melody of the refrain, the text of which is in Latin. Hint


Question 13
13. The melody of this well-known English carol is believed to be a fragment of a much longer tune, which may account for its somewhat repetitious character. Hint


Question 14
14. This well known and beloved carol for the season of Advent is of French origin and originally had a Latin text. The melody is similar to Gregorian chant. Hint


Question 15
15. This English Christmas hymn dates from the very early 18th century; The text is by the poet-laureate Nahum Tate. In England, it is usually sung to a melody by the Tudor-era composer Christopher Tye; in America, the most common tune is an adaption of an aria from one of George Friederich Handel's operas. Hint


Question 16
16. This whimsical carol began as a folk ballad commemorating the transfer of the relics of the three Wise Men to the cathedral of Cologne. Eventually, in the song's lyrics, the Wise Men, or rather their "crawns" (or skulls) evolved into the members of the Holy Family. Hint


Question 17
17. Which of these is NOT an African-American spiritual, but rather an (alleged) Appalachian folk song from North Carolina? Hint


Question 18
18. This carol was written in 1941 by the American composer Katherine K. Davis, though it has sometimes been listed as a traditional Czech carol. It describes a humble gift given to the Christ Child out of great love and became extremely popular when recorded in 1957. Hint


Question 19
19. Although often sung at Christmastime, this English carol is actually for Boxing Day (December 26th) when acts of charity, such as the one described in the song, were traditionally performed. The melody of this ballad was originally from a spring carol with a Latin text, entitled "Tempus Adest Floridum" ("The Time of Flowers has Come"); the English Yuletide text was written in the 19th century. Hint


Question 20
20. This carol originated in Germany around the 15th century. It uses the imagery of nature to describe Christ springing as a flower (or branch) from the rod of Jesse during the cold of winter, according to the prophecy of Isaiah. The melody has been arranged by many composers, but is usually performed in the setting by the German 16th century composer Michael Praetorious. Hint



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Quiz Answer Key and Fun Facts
1. Although hearing the melody of this 18th century English carol automatically inspires Yuletide thoughts, the lyrics make no mention of the manger, the town of Bethlehem, Mary and Joseph, the ox and ass, the angels, the wise men, the shepherds, or the star. In fact, the carol never actually mentions the birth of Christ, only his coming.

Answer: Joy to the World

The lyrics of "Joy to the World" are by the great 18th century English hymnist Isaac Watts. It comes from a collection entitled "Psalms of David imitated in the language of the New Testament" and is a (very liberal) paraphrase of Psalm 98 ("Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all the earth... Let the floods clap their hands; let the hills be joyful together before the Lord, for he comes to judge the earth") .

The melody, known as "Antioch", is attributed to Lowell Mason (whose other hymn tunes include "When I Survey the Wondrous Cross") and is believed by some to have been adapted from certain phrases in Handel's "Messiah".

This is somewhat doubtful, but the tune does have some attributes of Handel's style.
2. This beloved Christmas hymn was originally in Latin, though it is usually sung in an English translation. It dates from the 18th century and a variation of the melody was once used in a French comic opera. It is nearly always used as the entrance hymn at Christmas services and masses.

Answer: O Come, All Ye Faithful

This favorite hymn, originally sung to the Latin text "Adeste Fideles" (still in frequent use today) is of rather mysterious origin; both England and France have laid claim to it (it is also sometimes known as the "Portuguese hymn", having been popular in that country, but its origins are probably English).

The melody, which is usually sung in 4/4 or 2/4 time, also exists in a version in triple meter. The "New Oxford Book of Carols" presents the melody of an aria from the 1744 French comic opera "Le Comte d'Acajou" which bears some striking similarities to "Adeste Fideles", but opines that the tune probably existed in some form before that, and that the original composer may have been Thomas Arne, best known for composing the air "Hail Britannia!" (Arne was an acquaintance of plainchant scholar Thomas Wade, among whose manuscripts the tune and Latin verses were originally found.

As originally performed, the last line of each verse and the refrain were to have been repeated, which is seldom done today.
3. It grieves me to disprove a charming and well-loved Christmas story, but there was actually nothing wrong with the organ of the parish church of Obendorf, Austria, on the Christmas Eve of 1818 when this beloved carol was hastily composed. The singing of a folk-like song with guitar accompaniment was a long-standing tradition. Which carol am I talking about?

Answer: Silent Night

The Christmas Eve service in Austria has traditionally featured folk music, or music written in the folk style, usually accompanied on folk instruments rather than the more formal organ. This tradition arose in honor of the humble shepherds, who were the first to be told of the newborn child. Thus it was that, on Christmas Eve of 1818, Franz Xaver Gruber, the organist at the parish church of Obendorf, hastily penned a simple, lilting tune to a text by the curate, Josef Mohr, with an easy refrain for the congregation and choir, entitled "Stille Nacht" ("Silent Night"), to be sung to guitar accompaniment. Mohr and Gruber sang the verses in two-part harmony (a recording of "Stille Nacht" as it might originally have been performed is on "The Carol Album" with the Taverner Consort, directed by Andrew Parrott; the original melody is somewhat different from what we sing today).

The organ was, in fact, in perfect condition and was in use for many years afterward (Information from the "New Oxford Book of Carols", Oxford Press). If I have disappointed you by dispelling the popular legend, you may take comfort in the fact that this carol, composed in great haste, has endured for almost 200 years as one of the most beloved Christmas carols (something to bear in mind during the inevitable last-minute holiday rush).
4. The text of this majestic carol was written by Charles Wesley, the brother of John Wesley (the founder of Methodism). The melody to which it is nearly always sung is by the great German composer Felix Mendelssohn, who originally wrote the tune as part of a piece d'occasion commemorating the anniversary of the invention of the printing press.

Answer: Hark! The Herald Angels Sing

Charles Wesley was one of the most distinguished hymn-writers of his, or any other, time. His "Hymn for Christmas Day", written in 1739, originally began as "Hark, how all the welkin rings, Glory to the King of Kings"; it subsequently went through various changes before arriving at its present state.

The phrase in the final verse "Hail the Sun of Righteousness! Light and life to all he brings, ris'n with healing in his wings" is a paraphrase from the prophecy of Malachi: "But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of Righteousness arise with healing in his wings." The melody originated as a movement from Felix Mendelssohn's "Festgesang", a piece for men's chorus and brass commissioned by the Gutenberg Festival in 1840 to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the printing press. Mendelssohn was quite fond of this tune and hoped that it could be re-used in some other piece, but ironically cautioned "It will never do to sacred words."
5. This carol originated among American Lutherans in the late nineteenth century and has frequently (and incorrectly) been called "Luther's Cradle Hymn". Ironically, this misattribution to Luther seems to have originated with the carol's creators. It is believed to have begun as a recited poem from a Christmas play (presented by a Lutheran church group) to which music was later added. Which is it?

Answer: Away in a Manger

Martin Luther is known to have written a number of hymns, usually to existing melodies, the best known being "Ein Feste burg ist Unser Gott"- "A Mighty Fortress is Our God", which used the melody of a popular drinking song (Luther was quoted as saying "Why should the Devil get all the good tunes?).

At least one of these was a Christmas hymn: "Vom Himmel Hoch da Komm Ich Hier" ("From Heav'n Above to Earth I Come", derived from a folk song :"Ich Komm aus Fremden Landen Her"). There was also a German Christmas tradition known as "Cradle-Rocking", whereby a large cradle with an effigy of the Christ Child would be set up on the altar on Christmas Eve and would be rocked by the priest (and, occasionally, a group of children) in time to a suitable lullaby-like hymn.

It was probably in imitation of this tradition that "Away in a Manger" came into being, but there is no equivalent of either the text or tune in Germany, certainly not from Luther's time. It is possible that the play from which it is believed to have come presented it as being a Christmas hymn written by Luther to his children, which may have led to the confusion about its origins.

The melody to which it is sung in the U.S. is by the American hymnist James R. Murray. In England, it is sung to a different tune which, ironically, is also by an American hymnist of Irish extraction named William J. Kirkpatrick, who was a Union soldier in the Civil War. During WWII, the supposed German origins of the carol were played down (ironically, since it originated in America) and it was sung to the melody of the Scottish song "Flow Gently, Sweet Afton".
6. This carol is actually a French operatic-style concert aria whose original title was "Cantique du Noel". Its composer was of the Jewish faith and is best known (apart from this piece) for having written the score of the ballet "Giselle". The lyricist created a scandal later in life by embracing socialism, which (along with the revelation that the composer was Jewish) caused the piece to be condemned by the archbishop of Paris.

Answer: O Holy Night

The lyrics of this song are by the French poet Cappeau de Roquemare who convinced his friend, the composer Adolphe Adam, to set it to music. Adam's great ambition was to write grand opera, though none of his operas have achieved lasting popularity; apart from the "Cantique de Noel", he is best known for his score to the ballet "Giselle".

Although "Cantique de Noel" achieved great popularity when it first appeared, Roquemare's subsequent Socialist sympathies and the revelation that Adam was a Jew resulted in condemnation from the Catholic church; the archbishop of Paris denounced the piece as being "utterly devoid of the spirit of religion". None of this ultimately prevented the piece from achieving worldwide popularity.

The English translation by John Sullivan is the standard for performances in the U.S. and the U.K. "O Holy Night" became especially popular among abolitionists in the U.S. during the Civil War era due to the sentiments expressed in Verse 3: "Chains shall He break; for the slave is a brother, and in His name all oppressions shall cease."
7. The melody of this carol dates from the latter half of the 16th century and is one of the most beloved English folk ballads. It has sometimes been (wrongly) attributed to Henry VIII and is mentioned in Shakespeare's "The Merry Wives of Windsor".

Answer: What Child is This

The melody of "Greensleeves", of which there are several variants, began as a dance tune which came to England from Italy around 1550 (after the death of Henry VIII) and was one of several such melodies which were improvised over the standard bass line known as the "Passamezzo antico".

This was a very slow and stately dance and is referred to in Act V of Shakespeare's "Twelfth Night", when Sir Toby Belch contemptuously refers to the drunken doctor as "...a rogue and a passy measures pavin" (in other words, a pompous fool).

The lyrics of Greensleeves first appear around 1584. The lyrics are a plea from a nobleman who has been spurned by his mistress, despite having lavished numerous gifts on her. It was one of the most popular songs of its time, and is mentioned by Falstaff in the final scene of "The Merry Wives of Windsor": "Let the sky rain potatoes; let it thunder to the tune of Greensleeves".

The 19th century Italian composer Ferrucio Busoni thought that the tune sounded oriental, and used it in his opera "Turandot" (not to be confused with Puccini's much more famous opera of the same name). Alternate lyrics began to appear for the tune as early as the late 1500s, including the New Year's text "The Old Year Now Away is Fled" which, apart from "Greensleeves", is the text to which it is most often sung in England. "What Child is This" was written in the 19th century by the English lyricist William Chatterton Dix and has since become, ironically, much more popular in America than in England.
8. The lyrics of this carol are by the 19th century American Unitarian minister Edmund Sears. In America, it is sung to a melody by organist Richard Storrs Willis; in England, they use a tune composed by Sir Arthur Sullivan (of Gilbert and Sullivan fame). The carol's lyrics speaks of mankind's unwillingness to heed the angel's message of peace and goodwill; ironically, it was penned only ten years before the outbreak of the Civil War.

Answer: It Came Upon a Midnight Clear

Sears, unlike most Unitarians, believed strongly in the divinity of Christ. He was deeply concerned with the social issues of the day, such as the Industrial Revolution and the ongoing controversy over slavery, which would be one of the catalysts of the Civil War.

He had earlier penned another Christmas poem entitled "Calm on the List'ning Ear of Night" which, like "It Came Upon a Midnight Clear", has been set to music. "It Came Upon the Midnight Clear" was written in 1849 and was first published in Boston in 1850 in the "Christian Register". Oliver Wendell Holmes declared this carol "One of the finest and most beautiful ever written."
9. This Christmas hymn began as a poem written by Lewis Redner, rector of Holy Trinity church in Philadelphia in 1868. It was inspired by a visit to the Holy Land three years earlier, during which Redner had made a pilgrimage to the field of the Annunciation to the Shepherds. Redner asked Phillips Brooks, a composer friend of his, to set it to music. When, by Christmas Eve, Brooks had failed to come up with a suitable melody, he fell into an exhausted slumber and conceived the tune in a dream. Which of these carols boasts this romantic provenance?

Answer: O Little Town of Bethlehem

Another case in which last-minute inspiration (as with "Stille Nacht") yields an enduring result. Brook's Christmas Eve nap yielded the appropriately dreamy, chromatic melody to which "O Little Town of Bethlehem" is sung to this day in the U.S. In England, the carol is equally popular but, as with "Away in a Manger", it is sung to a different tune- the majestic "Forest Green", said to be adapted from a melody by Handel.

The English version also changes the order of some of the lines, so that verse 2 reads "Oh morning stars together, proclaim the holy birth/ And praises sing to God the King, and peace to men on earth/ For Christ is born of Mary, and gathered all above./ While mortals sleep, the angels keep their watch of wond'ring love." Lewis Redner wrote a number of other poems and hymns, including the Christmas poem "Everywhere, Everywhere Christmas Tonight".
10. This quintessentially English carol is set to a tune entitled "Chestnut", of which there are several versions. It is the only Christmas carol mentioned by name in Dickens' "A Christmas Carol"; a small boy begins to sing it at Scrooge's window, but flees when the old miser seizes a ruler and rises from his desk. It is sung throughout England to a number of different tunes and there are numerous variations of both the text and the traditional melody. Which is it?

Answer: God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen

Different versions of the melody known as "Chestnut" have been used as wassail songs (particularly "We've Been Awhile a Wandering") and at least one setting of the poem "While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks by Night", by Nahum Tate (see q.15). The words of "God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen" have also been sung to entirely different tunes.

A carol from Somerset entitled "Come All You Worthy Gentlemen" (used by composer Ralph Vaughan Williams in his 1911 "Fantasia on Christmas Carols") has a similar tune (though in a major key) and text: "Come all you worthy gentlemen that may be standing by,/ Christ our blessed savior was born upon this tide./ The Blessed Virgin Mary unto the Lord did pray,/ Oh we wish you the comfort and tidings of joy!"
11. Both words and music to this well-known carol were written by Pennsylvania clergyman John Henry Hopkins, rector of Christ's Church in Williamsport, as part of an 1865 collection simply titled "Hymns, Carols, and Songs". It was originally scored for three male voices, organ (or piano), and four-part chorus for the refrain. Although often sung at Christmas, it is more appropriate for the feast of the Epiphany.

Answer: We Three Kings (Kings of Orient)

This well-loved carol, with its vaguely Oriental-sounding melody, which unexpectedly shifts to a major key for the refrain, always adds a faintly exotic note to programs of traditional carols. The original title was "Kings of Orient", and there was originally a brief organ (or piano) interlude between the verses. Hopkins, whose photographs show him to have borne a remarkable resemblance to Santa Claus, tragically died in 1891 from injuries sustained during a horse-cart accident.

Although his 1865 collection of hymns and carols was much admired, "Kings of Orient" is the only selection to have enjoyed lasting popularity.
12. This carol is of French origin and is famous for the florid melody of the refrain, the text of which is in Latin.

Answer: Angels We Have Heard on High

"Angels We Have Heard on High" is the English version of the French noel "Les Anges Dans Nos Campagnes" and is undoubtedly the best-known folk carol of French origin. The text is a dialogue between the shepherds, who have come from Bethlehem after seeing the Christ Child, and some villagers who are enthralled by their story.

The refrain uses the Latin phrase "Gloria in Excelsis Deo" ("Glory to God in the Highest", sung by the heavenly host after the annunciation to the shepherds in Luke's gospel).

In England, the melody is usually sung to the words of James Montgomery's Christmas hymn "Angels From the Realms of Glory", which is not a translation of the French text. The melody, one of the most beautiful of any Christmas carols, is believed to date from at least the 18th century.
13. The melody of this well-known English carol is believed to be a fragment of a much longer tune, which may account for its somewhat repetitious character.

Answer: The First Noel

The same melody is repeated twice, identically, in the verses of "The First Noel" (a.k.a. "The First Nowell") and the refrain is only slightly different. It is believed to have been somewhat longer in its original state; there has even been speculation that the melody we sing today is actually the tenor part of the original melody. "The First Noel" originated among the so-called "gallery choirs" of the 18th and 19th centuries these were groups of somewhat rustic musicians and singers who performed in village churches (Thomas Hardy's novel "Under the Greenwood Tree" describes the adventures of one such choir).

In such choirs, the distribution of voices was usually not equal; treble and men's voices might sing the same part. Under these conditions, it was sometimes difficult to distinguish the melody from the tenor part (which would be sung in the same octaves as the melody) and one might become more prominent than the other. "The First Noel" has many verses (nine in all) describing the annunciation to the shepherds and the visit of the wise men.

Despite the use of the word "Noel" (or "Nowell", the English spelling) in both the title and refrain, the carol is of English origin.
14. This well known and beloved carol for the season of Advent is of French origin and originally had a Latin text. The melody is similar to Gregorian chant.

Answer: O Come, O Come Emanuel

The lyrics of this carol were originally in Latin ("Veni, Veni Emmanuel") and call upon Emmanuel (which means "God with us) using various names recalling prophecies from the Old Testament: "Branch of Jesse" ( "Jesse virgula" in Latin recalling Isaiah's prophecy; see info on q.20), "Dayspring" ("Oriens" in Latin, recalling the prophecy of Malachi concerning the "Sun of Righteousness", mentioned also in "Hark! the Herald Angels Sing"), "Key of David" ( "Clavis Davidica" in Latin recalling Isaiah 22.22 "And the key of the house of David I will lay upon his shoulder."), and "Lord of Might" (this is in verse 5, which mentions the Law being given on Mount Sinai, actually uses the Hebrew "Adonai").

This song derived from the "Great 'O' Antiphons" of medieval times, which were traditionally sung at vespers in the weeks before Christmas, so-called because each verse begins with the invocation "O". According to the "New Oxford Book of Carols", there were seven such antiphons, whose initial letters (after the "O") spelled out SARCORE which, spelled backwards, is the Latin phrase "Ero cras" ("I will be [with you] tomorrow").

The melody of "Veni, Emmanuel" dates from at least the 15th century.
15. This English Christmas hymn dates from the very early 18th century; The text is by the poet-laureate Nahum Tate. In England, it is usually sung to a melody by the Tudor-era composer Christopher Tye; in America, the most common tune is an adaption of an aria from one of George Friederich Handel's operas.

Answer: While Shepherds Watched Their Flock By Night

This was, for many years, the only legally authorized Christmas hymn in the Church of England (in 1782, it was joined by Wesley's "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing" which had not, as yet, been set to the tune by Mendelssohn). There are innumerable musical settings of this text; the melody by Christopher Tye is one of a number of pieces he wrote to texts from the Acts of the Apostles.

The Handel melody, commonly used in the U.S., is an adaption of the aria "Non vi Piaque, Ingiusti Dei" from his opera "Siroe, Re di Persia" in which, ironically, the title character longs for the life of a humble shepherd.

There are several settings by American colonial composers, including William Billings (a friend of Paul Revere) and a fellow with the unusual name of Supply Belcher (who was, appropriately enough, a tavern-keeper). "While Shepherds Watched" was a favorite of the English novelist Thomas Hardy, who mentions it several times in his novels and short stories (in his youth, Hardy's family formed a traveling musical group and frequently went caroling at Christmastime).
16. This whimsical carol began as a folk ballad commemorating the transfer of the relics of the three Wise Men to the cathedral of Cologne. Eventually, in the song's lyrics, the Wise Men, or rather their "crawns" (or skulls) evolved into the members of the Holy Family.

Answer: I Saw Three Ships

This lighthearted carol has an incredibly complex history and is actually a cross-breed of two different songs. In the 4th century A.D., St. Helena (mother of Constantine the Great) went to the Holy Land and discovered, among other things, what were believed to be the remnants of the True Cross on which Jesus was crucified, the manger of Bethlehem, and the supposed relics of the three Wise Men (actually three skulls; what happened to the rest of the Wise Men is not known).

These last relics were taken to Constantinople, later to Milan, and finally were brought to Germany by Friedrich Barbarossa, who bestowed them to the cathedral of Cologne.

This last transfer was accomplished with great pomp; the skulls were enshrined in jewelled caskets and arrived in Cologne by ship down the river Rhine. According to the "New Oxford Book of Carols", a popular boatmans' song of the time, which is very similar to "I Saw Three Ships" recounted the final voyage of the three "crawns" (skulls) on the river Rhine. How did the three skulls in the song become members of the Holy Family?.

In 15th century Germany, "ship" songs became popular among German minnesingers (troubadours) which described the coming of Christ using the poetic imagery of a ship laden with precious cargo (which, in the final verse, turns out to be the Messiah, the word of God, and the gifts of the Holy Spirit) and, in some cases, piloted by an angel, with the Virgin Mary on board (one of the best known of these is entitled "Es Kommt ein Schiff Geladen"). The imagery of Christ and Mary aboard a ship was eventually absorbed into songs of the "I Saw Three Ships" genre once the public excitement over the voyage of the Wise Men's relics had subsided. There is also an ancient legend according to which, during the Flight into Egypt, the Holy Family traveled by boat down the Nile and were hidden from Herod's soldiers by reeds. This gives us variants of the song in which "Our Savior Christ and his lady" becomes "Joseph and his fair lady", and probably inspired the nonsensical verse "O they sailed into Bethlehem" (Bethlehem is, in fact, landlocked).
17. Which of these is NOT an African-American spiritual, but rather an (alleged) Appalachian folk song from North Carolina?

Answer: I Wonder as I Wander

"I Wonder as I Wander" first appeared in a collection of Appalachian folksongs and carols entitled "Songs of the Hill Folk" compiled by the American composer and musicologist John Jacob Niles. Niles claimed to have constructed the song from a fragment he had heard in Murphy, Cherokee County, North Carolina in 1933; he said that it was sung to him by the daughter of a family that had been evicted from their dwelling and were camped out with their belongings in the town square.

Many years later, Niles admitted that some of the "folk songs" he had "collected" (which included "Black is the Color of my True Love's Hair" and other carols, such as "Jesus, Jesus, Rest Your Head") were, in fact, his own compositions, written in a folk-like idiom; this may be true of the hauntingly beautiful "I Wonder as I Wander". "Go, Tell it on the Mountain", "Rise Up, Shepherd, and Follow" (sung to a tune which is possibly of English or Welsh origin), and "Mary Had a Baby" are all authentic African-American spirituals from the Civil War era.

The traditional refrain of "Mary Had a Baby"- "The people keep a' coming, but the train done gone"- is thought to be an oblique reference to the Underground Railroad.
18. This carol was written in 1941 by the American composer Katherine K. Davis, though it has sometimes been listed as a traditional Czech carol. It describes a humble gift given to the Christ Child out of great love and became extremely popular when recorded in 1957.

Answer: The Little Drummer Boy

Davis was born in St. Joseph, Missouri in 1892 and studied music at Wellesley College and at the New England Conservatory of Music, where she studied with Nadia Boulanger. Known today almost exclusively for "The Little Drummer Boy", she considered herself a serious composer and penned, among other works, no less than seven complete operas. "Drummer Boy" was one of a number of pieces written while she was teaching at the Shady Hills School for Girls in Philadelphia and was frustrated by the lack of music for women's voices (originally, the song was in two parts- soprano and alto- with accompaniment; later arrangements for four-part a-capella chorus have the men singing "rum-pum-pum" etc.). Davis wrote both words and music for the song; she said that it came to her while she was trying to take a nap (shades of Phillips Brooks and "O Little Town of Bethlehem") and that the words "practically wrote themselves".

The song was recorded by the Von Trapp Family Singers as the "Carol of the Drum" (it was credited as a "Czech carol") and has been recorded by numerous choirs and popular singers since then. Davis died in 1980 at the age of 88. TRIVIA FACT: "The Little Drummer Boy" was the favorite Christmas carol of President Richard Nixon.
19. Although often sung at Christmastime, this English carol is actually for Boxing Day (December 26th) when acts of charity, such as the one described in the song, were traditionally performed. The melody of this ballad was originally from a spring carol with a Latin text, entitled "Tempus Adest Floridum" ("The Time of Flowers has Come"); the English Yuletide text was written in the 19th century.

Answer: Good King Wenceslas

The "feast of Stephen" mentioned in the song falls on December 26th, known as "Boxing day" in England and Canada (the name came from the tradition of bringing boxes of food and clothing to the less fortunate). Wenceslas was originally Vaclav the Good, a Bohemian monarch of the 10th century (Bohemia being present-day Czechoslovakia) who was dedicated to establishing the Christian faith in what was then a pagan country. Vaclav's efforts in this respect earned him the enmity of both his brother Boleslav and his mother, Drahomira, who remained loyal to the pagan religion. Eventually, Vaclav was murdered by Boleslav, at Drahomira's instigation; he was immediately venerated as both a saint and martyr and is recognized by the Church as the patron of Czechoslovakia.

The text of "Good King Wenceslas" was written in the mid 19th century by John Mason Neale and fitted to the tune of the 14th century spring carol "Tempus Adest Floridum", from a collection entitled "Piae Cantiones" ("Pious Melodies"). Caroling for occasions other than Christmas and its related feasts had fallen out of fashion by that time, and Neale apparently felt that the tune was too good to let fall into obscurity. Why he chose to write a text relating a fictional act of charity by a foreign monarch (rather than, say, St. Edward the Confessor or St. Edmund of Abington) is not clear, but the song in its present state remains a favorite Yuletide carol.
20. This carol originated in Germany around the 15th century. It uses the imagery of nature to describe Christ springing as a flower (or branch) from the rod of Jesse during the cold of winter, according to the prophecy of Isaiah. The melody has been arranged by many composers, but is usually performed in the setting by the German 16th century composer Michael Praetorious.

Answer: Lo, How a Rose E're Blooming

This beautiful carol originated in the 15th or 16th century and refers to the prophecy of Isaiah: "And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse and a branch shall grow out of his roots." (Chap. XI, verse 1). The "Jesse tree", tracing the lineage of Christ, was a popular subject of medieval art, in which it was usually depicted as a rose tree (a window in the cathedral of Chartres depicts this).

This may explain how the first line of the carol in English came to be "Lo, How a Rose E're Blooming", since the original German seems to have been "Es ist ein Reis Entsprungen" ("Lo, How a Branch has Sprung", which more accurately recalls Isaiah's words.

The "Rose" image, of course, is far more poetic). The carol has an amazing 16 verses which recount the entire Christmas narrative from the Annunciation through the Epiphany, although generally only the first two or three are ever performed.

In addition to Praetorius' arrangement, the distinguished 20th century German composer Hugo Distler used this carol as the basis for his "Die Weihnachtsgeschichte" ("The Christmas Story").
Source: Author jouen58

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