Every year when Christmas season rolls around, we sing Christmas carols, which are essentially Christian hymns that celebrate the incarnation of Jesus Christ.
Christmas carol season is brief, just a few weeks each year. So, it’s understandable that the playlist is limited. Most everybody knows the usual suspects: Joy to the World; The First Noel; Silent Night; Hark, the Herald Angels Sing; O Come, All Ye Faithful.
But there are other beautiful carols, less familiar to most people, that deserve to be known, learned and sung. Over the next few days, I want to share a few.
The Wexford Carol originated in Ireland, and dates to the 12th century, making it one of the oldest European carols. There are many tradtions about it, including one that insisted that it should be sung only by men.
Good people all, this Christmas time,
Consider well and bear in mind
What our good God for us has done
In sending his beloved son
With Mary holy we should pray,
To God with love this Christmas Day
In Bethlehem upon that morn,
There was a blessed Messiah born.
- The night before that happy tide
- The noble Virgin and her guide
- Were long time seeking up and down
- To find a lodging in the town
- But mark right well what came to pass
- From every door repelled, alas
- As was foretold, their refuge all
- Was but a humble ox’s stall.
- Near Bethlehem did shepherds keep
- Their flocks of lambs and feeding sheep
- To whom God’s angel did appear
- Which put the shepherds in great fear
- Arise and go, the angels said
- To Bethlehem, be not afraid
- For there you’ll find, this happy morn
- A princely babe, sweet Jesus, born.
- With thankful heart and joyful mind
- The shepherds went the babe to find
- And as God’s angel had foretold
- They did our Saviour Christ behold
- Within a manger he was laid
- And by his side a virgin maid
- Attending on the Lord of Life
- Who came on earth to end all strife.
- There were three wise men from afar
- Directed by a glorious star
- And on they wandered night and day
- Until they came where Jesus lay
- And when they came unto that place
- Where our beloved Messiah lay
- They humbly cast them at his feet
- With gifts of gold and incense sweet.
Enjoy this version by Yo-Yo Ma and Alison Krause:
Or this from The King’s Singers: