The earliest source of the song was a broadside ballad by Richard Jones in 1580; several more versions appeared shortly, with variants of title and text. There are references to the song in Shakespeare’s “The Merry Wives of Windsor” and by the end of the 17th century, the song had developed many variants in melody, harmony, and meter in versions by William Cobbold and John Playford. Of course, the more popular version for Christmas is “What Child is This” with lyrics by William Dix written around 1865. The version we use is The old yeare now away is fled from the mid-17th century.
There are modern versions/variations by performers as varied as Jacques Brel, Leonard Cohen, Elvis Presley, Alvin and the Chipmunks, and…well, lots more.
And it’s concert time. In a few hours. Today.
An Early Christmas in Europe.
This 12 Days of Christmas factoid-per-day thing has been fun. Please join us for our next installments: the 44 Days of Super Bowl, the 185 Days of SXSW, and the 21 Days of Halloween.