The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

Introduction To A Combined Volume

Henry Ramsden Bramley and John Stainer, Christmas Carols, New and Old (London: Novello, Ewer & Co.), 1878.

The following collection of Christmas Carols, new and old, has been formed with the purpose of providing a single source, easily accessible, from which those who are so disposed may make choice of songs, suitable in words and music, for the sacred and joyous season of our Lord's Nativity.

The time-honoured and delightful custom of thus celebrating the Birthday of the Holy Child seems, with some change of form, to be steadily and rapidly gaining ground. Instead of the itinerant ballad-singer or the little bands of wandering children, the practice of singing Carols in Divine Service, or by a full choir at some fixed meeting, is becoming prevalent.

Among the Carols here given are some which are best suited for the old simple mode of rendering; others which require more ample means for their performance. Some, from their legendary, festive, or otherwise less serious character, are unfit for use within the Church.

In choosing Carols for this purpose, the Editors would recommend that the selection should be confined to those which are numbered as follows: 1-9 inclusive, 13-17, 19-22, 26, 27, 29-32, 34, 36, 38, 41, 43, 44, 46-48, 50, 53-55, 57, 58, 60, 62, 65, 66, 70 [see Table of Contents]. The rest may fitly be reserved for less sacred places and occasions.

With this brief account of the purpose and nature of their undertaking they again submit the result to those orthodox lovers of music who desire to keep the Feast of Christmas with mirth which shall not overstep the bounds of reverence; referring those who may wish for further information upon the subject of Christmas Carols to the larger Preface prefixed to the Library Edition of this work.

Editor's Note: The date of 1871 for publication of the First Series was a misreading. Percy Dearmer mentioned that a publication occurred in 1871. However, he was describing a combined publication of the First and Second Series. People have assumed that this represented the date of publication of both Series. However, it is clear from the Prefaces to the two Series that the First Series was published some time prior to the Second Series. It has been determined from other sources that the First Series was published in 1867, the Second Series in 1871, and the Third Series in 1878.

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