Episode 123: A Little More Christmas Music



A little more Christmas theology and music on this 10th Day of Christmas from the Manly Doctors of Divinity.

Be Sociable, Share!


5 Responses to “Episode 123: A Little More Christmas Music”

  1. suzee says:

    Boxing Day History
    Traditions of the Holiday Season
    In Great Britain there are two interesting traditions of Boxing Day and Christmas Crackers…….

    Boxing Day takes its name from the ancient practice of opening boxes that contained money given to those who had given their service during the year. It was also the day when alms boxes, placed in churches on Christmas Day, were opened. The money was then given to the priest or used to help the poor and needy. Another name for Boxing Day used to be Offering Day.

    The earliest boxes of all were not box shaped, as you might imagine, nor were they made of wood. They were, in fact, earthenware containers with a slit in the top (rather like piggy banks.) These earthenware ‘boxes’ were used by the Romans for collecting money to help pay for the festivities at the winter Saturnalia celebrations.

    During the seventeenth century it became the custom for apprentices to ask their master’s customers for money at Christmas time. They collected this money in earthenware containers, which could be opened only by being smashed, and on Boxing Day the apprentices would eagerly have a ‘smashing time’, hence the expression, seeing how much they had collected.

    A later tradition, and the one which has survived to this day, was the distribution of Christmas ‘boxes’, gifts of money to people who had provided services throughout the year – the postman, the lamp-lighter, parish beadles, parish watchmen, dustmen and turn-cocks – which happened on the day after Christmas Day.

    Christmas Crackers: Everyone loves to pull a cracker. It’s all part of the fun of Christmas. The originator of the cracker was a man called Tom Smith who owned a sweet shop in London.

    Tom had a good eye for business. He also had a sense of humour. ‘What people like,’ he used to say, ‘is something new. And if it’s not new, the art is to find a way of selling it!’


    During the 1840’s Tom found that people liked sugar almonds, but while he was on holiday in France he came across a variety of sweets wrapped up in a twist of paper. These bonbons seemed very popular, so Tom decided to copy the idea to wrap his sugar almonds. The new wrapping made the sweets look rather special. They sold well. Then Tom noticed that young men were buying them to give to their sweethearts. He began placing ‘love mottoes’ on small slips of paper inside the sweet wrapping. This novelty sold even better than Tom had expected. People went out of their way to visit his shop and buy this new kind of sweet.

    In 1846 Tom turned his thoughts towards Christmas. Instead of sweets, why not wrap little toys and novelties in the twisted wrapping? Tom experimented and hit on the idea of producing a wrapping that could be pulled apart – just like the cracker as we know it today.

    As he had hoped, the Christmas novelty was a success, but Tom was still not satisfied. One evening he was standing idly in front of the fire. As he kicked a log into place there was a shower of sparks and the log cracked and popped making Tom jump. ‘That’s it!’ he laughed to himself. ‘What I need is something in my wrapping that will make a ‘snap’ when it is pulled open’.

    For some months he worked with several chemicals until at last he found one that was safe, easy to make, and would make a noise just loud enough to amuse his customers and not frighten them.

    The new ‘crackers’ were a sensation and soon making them became a full-time business. Tom had to open a factory to produce them. Today the Tom Smith factory sell crackers all over the world, and the man who liked to amuse his customers would be amazed to know that his sense of fun had started a Christmas tradition.

    (reprinted from the Christmas-time.com website)

  2. suzee says:

    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
    sevenfold gifts of the Holy Spirit–Prophesy, Serving, Teaching, Exhoration, 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.’

    Merry (Twelve Days of) Christmas Everyone

  3. Marcy says:

    So sorry – the 12 Days of Christmas is a fun counting song. There are 12 months in the year and on the 12th day of Christmas ones true love had in their possession 364 gifts, one for every day of the year.

    The problem I have with Suzee’s explanation is the fact that there were 12 disciples, following the Resurrection Judas was replaced, thus bringing the number to 12, and 12 it would always be.

  4. Steve Mo says:

    Pr. Cwirla, concerning the CD “In Sweet Rejoicing” directed by Richard Proulx, your congregation wasn’t looking very hard. It can be found for $17 at GIA Publications:



  5. Steve Mo says:

    And concerning the “Secret Meaning” behind the verses of 12 Days of Christmas, maybe I am an idiot, but I can’t see from the explanation above why any of the alleged Secret Meanings would have had to have been Secret. I don’t think that the C of E would have had any problems with Torah, Ten Commandments, Jesus, Apostals Creed, etc.

Leave a Reply