Friday, December 27, 2013

The Fourth Day Of Christmas

On this day of Christmas we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Innocents. The Innocents are the young male children of Bethlehem killed by King Herod in his attempt to eliminate the threat to his power from a newborn King of the Jews.

Massacre of the Innocents                                       Peter Paul Rubens, ca 1611

Music for the day is the "Coventry Carol" , a song from the mystery play, The Pageant of the Shearmen and Tailors. Guild plays in Coventry, England, date to the 14th century but the documentation of their contents did not appear until the mid 1500's.

In the play, an angel appears to Joseph and tells him to take Mary and the Child to Egypt to escape Herod's slaughter. Immediately thereafter, three mothers from Bethlehem enter with their children and sing the carol.

Lully, lullay, Thou little tiny Child,

Bye, bye, lully, lullay.

Lullay, thou little tiny Child,
Bye, bye, lully, lullay.

O sisters too, how may we do,
For to preserve this day
This poor youngling for whom we do sing
Bye, bye, lully, lullay.

Herod, the king, in his raging,
Charged he hath this day
His men of might, in his owne sight,
All young children to slay.

That woe is me, poor Child for Thee!
And ever mourn and sigh,
For thy parting neither say nor sing,
Bye, bye, lully, lullay.

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