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A carol is a festive song, generally religious but not necessarily connected with church worship, and often with a dance-like or popular character.

Today the carol is represented almost exclusively by the Christmas carol, and to a much lesser extent by the Easter carol, however despite their present association with religion, this has not always been the case.



The word carol is thought to have been derived from the French word caroller, a circle dance accompanied by singers (in turn derived from the Latin choraula). The carol was very popular as a dance song from the 1150s to the 1350s, after which its use expanded as a processional song sung during festivals, while others were written to accompany religious mystery plays (such as the Coventry Carol, written in 1591).

Following the Protestant Reformation (and the banning of many religious festivities during the British Puritan Interregnum), the carol went into a decline due to Calvinist aversian to things "pope-ish". However, composers such as William Byrd composed motet-like works for Christmas which they termed carols; and folk-carols continued to be sung in rural areas. Nonetheless, carols did not regain their former popularity until a revival in the 19th century when many surviving non-religious carols were re-discovered and arranged for church use with new Christian lyrics.

In modern times, songs that may once have been regarded as carols are now classified as songs (especially Christmas songs), even those that retain the traditional attributes of a carol - celebrating a seasonal topic, alternating verses and chorus, and danceable music.


Important anthologies of carols include:

Christmas Carols New and Old ed. H. R. Bramley and John Stainer (1871)
The Oxford Book of Carols ed. Percy Dearmer, Martin Shaw and Ralph Vaughan Williams (1928)
The University Carol Book ed. Erik Routley (1961}
Carols for Choirs ed. David Willcocks, Reginald Jacques and John Rutter (1961-1988)
The New Oxford Book of Carols ed. Hugh Keyte and Andrew Parrott (1992)
The Penguin Book of Carols ed. Ian Bradley (1999)

See also

External links

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Music Sound, v. 2.0, by MultiMedia

This guide is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia.

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