(Above, the choir of Kings College Chapel, Cambridge, singing the annual Christmas Eve “Lessons And Carols” service.)
This is Lord David Frost’s wonderful meditation on Christmas’ enchantments. Telegraph. Alas, it seems to be paywalled, but if you don’t subscribe, I urge you to try to find the whole thing somewhere online. It is a treasure. I will take some of the following:
The Christmas carol was written down by a monk from the Abbey of Bury St Edmunds in the year 1400. I sing of a maidenIt is incomparable. Although the carol was well-known in its time, its memory was lost following the Reformation. It was only rediscovered by Victorian antiquarians.
Or was it so far gone? John Jacob Niles, an American composer, was on a trip through the Appalachians looking for folk tunes in 1933. He found, and published it later, the information he had gathered near Mayfield, Kentucky. Sing We the Virgin MaryIt is now a carol in it’s own right. It is hard to believe that the similarities to the medieval text from 15th-century are accidental. Both have clearly evolved from one another.
This fragmentary lyric remained unrecorded for 500+ years from East Anglia to the…