The ten best Christmas carols – and their interesting literary origins and meaning
‘Tis the season to the jolly, so let’s all sing a Christmas carol and enjoy a mince pie. No? Okay, how about you sit back with your mince pie and a glass of sherry, and we regale you with a few interesting facts about the literary origins and histories of some of the best-loved Christmas carols. We’ve included a link to a recording of each carol, should you wish to hear them – simply click on the carol’s title to hear the merry notes ring out. What’s your favourite Christmas carol? If you had to choose one, which Christmas carol would be crowned the greatest of all?
Anonymous, ‘Coventry Carol‘. ‘Herod the king, in his raging / Charged he hath this day / His men of might, in his own sight / All young children to slay …’ Dating from the early sixteenth century (its words were written down by one writer in 1534) and originally part of a mystery play called The Pageant of the Shearmen and Tailors, this carol was a favourite of local Coventry boy Philip Larkin, who chose it as one of his Desert Island Discs.