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Be warned: If you're looking for a volume of songs for your Christmas party, this book is not for you. On the other hand, if you want a very good overview of the early history of English caroling, you've found what you need. It is one of those linguistic oddities that carol, which originally meant a song suitable for dancing, and which (while typically religious) could be specific to any holiday, now means a Christmas song. This is a book of carols of the old sort, mostly in Middle English. A few of the chapter headings will tell you how diverse they are: There are sections "Of the New Year," "Of the Epiphany," "Of the Purificatoin," "Of Christ's Passion." There are also some on specific topics: "Of the Shepherds," "Of the Boar's Head," "Of Holly and Ivy," "Of the Joys of Mary" -- even "Satirical Carols." The source of each carol is listed at its head, along with its estimated date. Variant readings are listed at the foot of the text, and extensive notes at the end discuss its meaning, history, and significance, as well as listing other printings (such as those with music). You probably won't be able to sing most of these. There is no music (in most cases, the music is lost; all we have is the text), and odds are that you won't want to go around singing in Middle English anyway. (Although it really is fun to do so. Really. Truly.) But there is no better short collection of early English carol literature. It's a great book -- as long as you don't buy it for the wrong reasons.
In Praise of Women
NOTES ON MANUSCRIPTS AND PR1NTED
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A Selection of English Carols by Richard Leighton Greene at ...
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JSTOR: A Selection of English Carols
A Selection of English Carols. Edited by RICHARD GREENE. (Clarendon Medieval and Tudor Series) Oxford: Clarendon Press. I962. 279 pp. ...
Select Secular Lyrics, Select Bibliographies and Notes
17 Boy, thou art not seyn woryth a reych. According to Gr this phrase is a "common expression of worthlessness" (p. 241). See A Selection of English Carols. ...
www.lib.rochester.edu/ camelot/ teams/ slnts.htm