Catholic Culture Overview
Catholic Culture Overview

Episode 59—The Glorious English Carol

By Catholic Culture Podcast ( bio - articles - email ) | Dec 20, 2019 | In The Catholic Culture Podcast

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Did you know that not just any Christmas song is a carol? The true carol, in all its earthy splendor, is a distinctive product of the Catholic middle ages. Yet our forefathers didn’t limit caroling to Christmas: they wrote carols for every season of the year covering the entire story of our Redemption, not to mention secular topics at times.

This episode explores the origin of carols in England, their cultural meaning, and how they were suppressed by the Puritans and were revived in modern times. And of course, you’ll hear a lot of great English carols throughout, ranging from historically informed performance to modern arrangements!


Erik Routley, The English Carol

Andrew Gant, The Carols of Christmas

All music in this episode used with permission from the recording artist and/or label.

Agincourt Carol, Alamire

Nowell sing we both all and some, Quire Cleveland

Gabriel From Heaven’s King, Quire Cleveland

A Virgin Most Pure, Stairwell Carolers

Coventry Carol, Harry Christophers and the Sixteen, available on the CORO record label at

Bedfordshire May Carol, Shirley Collins

Remember O Thou Man, The King’s Singers

Wassail (Gloucestershire Wassail, arr. Vaughan Williams), Quire Cleveland

Green Growth the Holly, Early Music New York—Frederick Renz, Director

My Dancing Day, Robert Shaw Chorale

Drive the Cold Winter Away, Owain Phyfe and the New World Renaissance Band

In the Bleak Midwinter, Quire Cleveland

Lullay My Liking (Holst), HSVPA Madrigal Singers (Houston, TX)

A Hymn to the Virgin (Britten), VOCES8

There is no rose, Quire Cleveland

Thanks to all, but especially to Ross W. Duffin for his generosity with Quire Cleveland’s back catalogue!

Also recommended:

A Waverly Consort Christmas: From East Anglia to Appalachia

Other non-famous carols mentioned: Seven Virgins (The Leaves of Life); This Endris Night; Tempus adest floridum (Good King Wenceslas); Kingsfold (I heard the voice of Jesus say); The Cherry Tree Carol; Masters In This Hall; The Golden Carol; Snow in the Street; New Prince, New Pomp

Theme music: “Franciscan Eyes”, written and performed by Thomas Mirus. Download the Catholic Culture Podcast soundtrack.

Thomas V. Mirus is Director of Podcasts for, hosts The Catholic Culture Podcast, and co-hosts Criteria: The Catholic Film Podcast. See full bio.

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