Christmas Caroling: Victorian Christmas Carol

Christmas Caroling

In Victorian England there was a tradition in which groups of singers traveled from house to house, singing carols or songs, for which they were often rewarded with money, mince pies, or a glass of a warm drink. Often money was collected and given to charity. Earlier Christmas caroling was known as wassailing. 

One of the most popular Christmas carols is Silent Night. The carol was first performed at Midnight Mass in St. Nicholas Church in Oberndorf, Austria in 1818. The original lyrics of the song Stille Nacht were written in German by Josef Mohr.  Below is a Christmas carol published by Scribner's in 1881 and written for "the old Tyrolese melody, Silent Night."




SILENT night! shadowy night!
Purple dome, starry light!
Pouring splendor of centuries down,
Gold and purple, a glorious crown,
Where the manger so rude and wild
Cradles a sleeping child.

Silent night! mystical night!
Kings and seers sought thy light.
Where the watch of the shepherds is kept,
Heavenly hosts through the stillness have swept,
Clear proclaiming a Saviour born!
Singing the Christmas morn!

Holy night-- heralding dawn!
Far and near breaks the morn!
Breaks the day when the Saviour of men,
Bringing pardon and healing again,
Holy, harmless, and undefiled,
Cometh a little child!

...from Scribner's 1881