To Call My True Love To The Dance

The word carol derives from the word carole- which is a word for a ring dance- and- listening to the Service of 9 Lessons and Carols from Kings as it played itself out in front of my mother the other evening- it struck me how odd it was that the ritual should be so static and solemn- with persons of the male gender (but in gender-suppressing robes) standing in line in wooden stalls (how the word speaks entrapment) moving nothing but the muscles of the face.

Carols were never intended to be sung in church- but in halls and inns and out in the open, by people on the move, by people with a drop of good ale inside them, by wassailers, by waits, by people swivelling their hips and tapping their toes and waving beer mugs around. By people dancing. They aren't seriously religious but playfully so. They belong to the people not the ecclesiastics.  Monks didn't sing them but barmaids did. Or perhaps naughty monks did- monks who had snuck out of the monastery after compline to be with the barmaids on Christmas Eve...


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