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Thursday, 22 December 2016

Trolling: a rant.

Deck the halls with boughs of holly
Fa la la la lah la la la la!
'Tis the season to be jolly
Fa la la la lah, la la la la!
Dress we now in gay apparel
Fa la lah la la lah la la la!
Troll the ancient Christmas carol
Fa la la la lah la la la la!

I feel completely let-down. Troll the ancient Christmas carol, indeed!

You know all those traditional Christmas songs that connect us with centuries of joy and festivity, antique mystery, and eternal faith? Made up by the flipping Victorians, most of them.

No, really. You know that very oldest one, O Come O Come Emmanuel, with its strange talk of branches and quarries and stuff that clearly means something entirely different? Those words were written by T A Lacey in 1906.

Ding Dong Merrily On High? Old tune, yes: words written 1924.

Hark the Herald Angels Sing? Not until Wesley wrote it in the 1800s, you didn't.

Good King Wenceslas? John Mason Neale, 1853 (though, again, it's an old tune). And Wencelas wasn't a king, anyway, he was a duke!

Oh, and worst of all: you know that lovely story about Silent Night being written because the mice nibbled the organ bellows?

...but no, no, I won't tell you that one. Some dreams are best left undisturbed.

So. Are there any properly old carols which do connect us with centuries of faith and feasting etc?

Well, God Rest Ye Merry, The First Nowell, and I saw Three Ships are a bit older than the ones above.

So I'm going to have a jolly good troll of those.

Word To Use Today: troll. This word has nothing to do with the Scandinavian demons, but is a word that means, variously: drawing a baited line through the water in order to catch a fish; posting deliberately annoying stuff online; and singing a chorus loudly and heartily. It comes from the Old French troller, to run about.

A rather longer and more measured two-part history of the Christmas carol can be found HERE and HERE.

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