Thursday, 1 January 2009

Fascinating insight in to a well known Christmas Carol

There is one Christmas Carol that has always baffled me. What in the world do leaping lords, French hens, swimming swans, and especially the partridge who won't come out of the pear tree have to do with Christmas?

From 1558 until 1829, Roman Catholics in England were not permitted to practice their faith openly. Someone during that era wrote this carol as a catechism song for young Catholics. It has two levels of meaning: the surface meaning plus a hidden meaning known only to members of their church. Each element in the carol has a code word for a religious reality which the children could remember.

The partridge in a pear tree was Jesus Christ.

Two turtle doves were the Old and New Testaments.

Three French hens stood for faith, hope and love.

The four calling birds were the four gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke & John.

The five golden rings recalled the Torah or Law, the first five books of the Old Testament.

The six geese a-laying stood for the six days of creation.

Seven swans a-swimming represented the sevenfold gifts of the Holy Spirit--Prophesy, Serving, Teaching, Exhortation, Contribution, Leadership, and Mercy.

The eight maids a-milking were the eight beatitudes. -

Nine ladies dancing were the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit--Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self Control.

The ten lords a-leaping were the ten commandments.

The eleven pipers piping stood for the eleven faithful disciples.

The twelve drummers drumming symbolized the twelve points of belief in the Apostles' Creed.So there is your history for today.

This knowledge was shared with me and I found it interesting and enlightening and now I know how that strange song became a Christmas Carol...so pass it on if you wish.

Thanks to my favourite aunt for this one- fascinating!

5 comments:

Janet said...

Fascinating post, Jo. I've always been puzzled by that carol too, thanks for clearing up the mystery.

Busy Bee Suz said...

That is really interesting...I just learned that one this year too.
It never made sense before...but now I am not so clueless.
Happy new year,
suz

pamokc said...

I have heard this before, but never seen it actually written out with that detail. Thanks for sharing!

Femin Susan said...

It is really interesting..Thanks for sharing!
Wishing you " A Happy 2009.

Marjie said...

This is very interesting. Every year, the newspaper publishes what each of these would cost, but no one has ever written down the background behind the song.

Thank you for visiting my blog! I did include a brief mention of what my "Superbowl Meat Buffet" is, since I forgot that there are plenty of people to whom the Superbowl is a mystery. I've enjoyed reading some of your earlier posts, too, especially the stuck pen post; I'll be back!

Happy New Year!