Christmas Carol Vocabulary and Facts
Some hard to understand words I hope to go over with my family this Christmas. I collected this information to remind me of carols and words of Christmas they ask questions about. I thought you might enjoy it as well. I may use these for family devotionals each night in the evenings leading up to Christmas around the fire as we pull out a figure for the nativity scene each night. I’ll add links to the words of each song, or the tunes, if I can find them as I go, but I thought I’d go on and post this much.
Noel, as in “The First Noel, the angel did say, was to certain poor shepherds in fields as they lay…”
Noel (or noël, sometimes spelled nowell for the English pronunciation) refers either to the Christmas celebration or a Christmas carol. The word comes from the French word Noël meaning “Christmas” which derives from the Old French word noël, a variant of nael. The Latin origin is the word natalis (“birth“). It may also be from the Gaulish words “noio” or “neu” meaning “new” and “helle” meaning “light” referring to the winter solstice when sunlight begins overtaking darkness. source
in excelsis deo: the highest degree according to Webster’s dictionary “In excelsis deo” from Angels We Have Heard on High
“Gloria in excelsis Deo” (Latin for “Glory to God in the highest”) is the title and beginning of a hymn known also as the Greater Doxology (as distinguished from the “Minor Doxology” or Gloria Patri) and the Angelic Hymn.
The name is often abbreviated to Gloria in Excelsis or simply Gloria.
It is an example of the psalmi idiotici (“private psalms”, i.e. compositions by individuals in imitation of the Biblical Psalter) that were popular in the second and third centuries. Other surviving examples of this lyric poetry are the Te Deum and the Phos Hilaron.
Orient: as in “We Three Kings of Orient Are”
The countries of Asia, especially of eastern Asia. source
Boughs: as in “boughs of hally, fa la la la la la la la la”
A tree branch, especially a large or main branch. source
Lo! : As in “Lo! I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be to all people” from the gospel of Luke in the Bible. It is not “Yo!” from modern rapping, though it sounds similar.
Pronunciation: (lō), [key]
look! see! (frequently used in Biblical expressions; now usually used as an expression of surprise in the phrase lo and behold ). source
Hark! of Hark_the_Herald_Angels_Sing
To listen attentively.
- To return to a previous point, as in a narrative. SOURCE
- (originally titled “Shchedryk”)
Herald: A person who carries or proclaims important news; a messenger. source
The times gone past; the good old days. source
Realm: from “Angels from the Realms of Glory”
1. A community or territory over which a sovereign rules; a kingdom.
1.a. A salutation or toast given in drinking someone’s health or as an expression of good will at a festivity.b. The drink used in such toasting, commonly ale or wine spiced with roasted apples and sugar.2. A festivity characterized by much drinking. source
- c and Ukrainian lyrics written by Mykola Leontovych, 1916words: (English) Peter Wilhousky, 1936
sometimes called the “Bulgarian Carol” (although of Ukrainian origin)
Gabriel: of the Christmas story
In the Bible, an angel who explained signs from God and announced the conception, birth, and mission of Jesus to Mary. source
“Good King Wenceslas” is a popular Christmas carol about a king who goes out to give alms to a poor peasant on the Feast of Stephen (the second day of Christmas, December 26). During the journey, his page is about to give up the struggle against the cold weather, but is enabled to continue by the heat miraculously emanating from the king’s footprints in the snow. The legend is based on life of the historical Saint Wenceslaus I, Duke of Bohemia (907-935), known in the Czech language as Svatý Václav.
I Saw Three Ships is a traditional and popular Christmas carol from England. Some sources assert that this song is “an upbeat variant of Greensleeves“, which has a similar meter. The earliest printed version is from the 17th century, possibly Derbyshire. source
God with us; – an appellation of the Christ. (N.) source
1. To destroy the courage or resolution of by exciting dread or apprehension.2. To cause to lose enthusiasm; disillusion: was dismayed to learn that her favorite dancer used drugs.3. To upset or alarm.
Merry Christmas: What Christians, or those who follow Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour, tend to say to one another, as opposed to the more generic “Happy Holidays” or “Warmest Seasons Greetings”. It is getting harder and harder to find those cards that have this specific greeting. Yesterday, I bought my own stamp to keep from having to refuse so many generic cards to friends and family. I still love them all cards…I just like mine to say “Merry Christmas!” I wouldn’t want my family to say “Happy September” on my birthday…I want to hear “Happy Birthday!” And likewise, when it’s Christmas, I want to say “Merry Christmas!”
Entry filed under: Everyday.