Our favourite Christmas carols









If you haven’t been into the Swettenham Arms lately, then you won’t know that our Christmas is in full swing! The decorations are up, the fires are lit and we’ve got some (tasteful!) Christmas music playing. Carols are a big part of creating a festive atmosphere and can really help you to get in the Christmas spirit. Here are a few things you might not know about these traditional songs.

The word ‘carol’ comes from the French word caroller, which means to dance in a circle. The meaning gradually expanded to meaning singing as well as dancing, but still has connotations of lively joy.

A traditional favourite is ‘Good King Wenceslas’.  The words were written by John Mason Neale and first published in the mid-nineteenth century, but the tune is based on a Finnish song that’s almost three centuries older. The King Wenceslas of the title was a real person, and ruled Bohemia in the 10th century.

Have you ever sung ‘Hark the Herald Angels Sing’, with its distinctive tune? In fact, the lyrics and music were put together almost a hundred years apart. When the words were written in 1739, the tune was slow and funereal. In the mid-nineteenth century, an English musician adapted a tune by Mendelssohn to fit the lyrics.

‘The Holly and the Ivy’ could be one of our oldest carols, with origins that could date back hundreds of years to pagan times. It refers to the practice of bringing greenery into the house to ensure a fruitful spring.

If you haven’t yet booked your Christmas celebrations, there’s still time – we have a limited number of spaces for our Christmas lunches available. Call us now to book. 


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