The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

Introduction To The Second Series

Henry Ramsden Bramley and John Stainer, Christmas Carols, New and Old (London: Novello, Ewer & Co., 1871).

Of the carols contained in this Second Series, the melodies of ten are sung by tradition in various parts of England, the rest are original. Of the former, five have been taken down from actual recitation and five drawn from previous collections. The tune of XXVI. [The Incarnation] is sung in Gloucestershire, and, it may be, elsewhere, to the words of III. [A Virgin Unspotted], in the first part of this collection. To avoid repetition without losing the air, it is here given to other words.

Among the class of Carols there may be some which, like XII. [The Seven Joys Of Mary] in the previous selection, may be thought open to the charge of being irreverent, or otherwise unsuitable to the professed object of this publication. The Editor's apology is, that while they have admitted nothing which appears to them to contain positive error, they have made every effort to preserve those compositions which prove their hold upon the popular mind, by their continued use up to the present time. Reverence, they would remark, is not to be judged in all cases by the same standard; and it is believed there there is nothing either in the Carol to which allusion has been already made, or in any of those now put forth, which is incompatible with reverence in persons of simple faith and unsophisticated training. Such Carols may afford pleasure to some who are unable to make use of the more difficult productions of modern composers, while those who prefer the latter may perhaps find in the whole collection an adequate supply of words and music adapted to a more fastidious taste.

With regard to the original Carols, the source of words, as well as the composer, is in each case specified. The two Ancient Carols, XXV. [The Virgin And Child] and XXXII. [In Bethlehem, That Noble Place], have been borrowed, with such alterations as the change of language seemed to require, from "Songs of the Nativity," Edited by Mr. W. H. Husk, Librarian of the Sacred Harmonic Society, a valuable collection which has also been employed in the collation of the words of several of the traditional Carols.

The Editors are encouraged by the reception given to their previous attempt to hope that they may have been instrumental in promoting the performance of Christmas Carols on a scale worthy of the increased resources and awakening zeal of the Church.

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.

Print Page Return Home Page Close Window

If you would like to help support Hymns and Carols of Christmas, please click on the button below and make a donation.

Related Hymns and Carols