Episode 59—The Glorious English Carol

By Thomas V. Mirus ( 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 https://www.amazon.com/English-Carol-Erik-Routley/dp/0837169895

Andrew Gant, The Carols of Christmas https://www.amazon.com/Carols-Christmas-Celebration-Surprising-Favorite/dp/0718031520

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

Agincourt Carol, Alamire https://www.amazon.com/Deo-Gracias-Anglia-Alamire/dp/B008L1GZUO

Nowell sing we both all and some, Quire Cleveland https://store.cdbaby.com/cd/quirecleveland2

Gabriel From Heaven’s King, Quire Cleveland https://store.cdbaby.com/cd/quirecleveland2

A Virgin Most Pure, Stairwell Carolers https://www.stairwellcarollers.com/en/o-magnum-mysterium/

Coventry Carol, Harry Christophers and the Sixteen, available on the CORO record label at https://thesixteenshop.com/

Bedfordshire May Carol, Shirley Collins https://mainlynorfolk.info/shirley.collins/records/withinsound.html

Remember O Thou Man, The King’s Singers https://www.amazon.com/Remember-O-Thou-Man/dp/B073JZN754

Wassail (Gloucestershire Wassail, arr. Vaughan Williams), Quire Cleveland https://store.cdbaby.com/cd/quirecleveland4

Green Growth the Holly, Early Music New York—Frederick Renz, Director https://www.earlymusicny.org/a-renaissance-christmas

My Dancing Day, Robert Shaw Chorale https://www.amazon.com/Songs-Angels-Christmas-Hymns-Carols/dp/B000003D0G

Drive the Cold Winter Away, Owain Phyfe and the New World Renaissance Band https://store.cdbaby.com/cd/nwrb

In the Bleak Midwinter, Quire Cleveland https://store.cdbaby.com/cd/quirecleveland2

Lullay My Liking (Holst), HSVPA Madrigal Singers (Houston, TX) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mw81DCQ3HhI

A Hymn to the Virgin (Britten), VOCES8 https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B077GC4QVT/ref=dm_ws_sp_ps_dp

There is no rose, Quire Cleveland https://store.cdbaby.com/cd/quirecleveland2

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 https://www.amazon.com/Waverly-Consort-Christmas-Anglia-Appalachia/dp/B000002SRK

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.

Thomas V. Mirus is a pianist living in New York City. He is the director of audio media for CatholicCulture.org and hosts The Catholic Culture Podcast. See full bio.

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