Teachers' blog


【Part II Caroling】

(Contributed by Lala)
In Part 1 of Caroling, we discovered that carolers are people who sing together in a group. We talked about carolers who walk through the community, spreading greetings to homeowners. Carolers find other places to sing, not just by knocking on doors, but also by sharing Christmas songs with other types of audiences. Carolers can be heard in hospitals, homes for the elderly, shopping malls, homeless shelters and in the homes of friends and relatives. After all, anyone can become a caroler but if certain, determined people had not taken up the cause of caroling, history might have played out differently.
Singing Christmas carols was stopped for a time in England, during the reign of Oliver Cromwell and the Puritans, in 1647. However, this did not deter the diehard carolers who continued to sing in secret, preserving the nature of caroling for those who would make it public once again, in the Victorian era. Two men named William Sandys and Davis Gilbert, collected many old Christmas songs from English villages, which helped provide the music for the public practice of caroling. Luckily thereafter, many across Europe and into the West, would enjoy the wondrous voices of carolers or, become carolers, themselves.
For those who choose to engage in caroling, it’s important to know the etiquette that has grown up around the practice of singing carols. Carolers are advised to stick to some rules that comprise the following protocol:
#1) Each member of the caroling group, should sound good but also look good, so appropriate attire is necessary. Wear reflective decals if you’re walking at night.
#2) A caroler should carry a flashlight, and also a battery-operated candle to add to the charm of caroling.
#3) Have song selections prepared in songbooks or sheet music with the lyrics. At least one rehearsal is necessary even for casual parties. Be certain that everyone knows the melody.
#4) Schedule the caroling for a reasonable time-frame, such as after dinner and not later than children’s bedtime, so as not to disrupt families in the neighborhood that you choose.
#5) Remember to ask for permission to carol at community places, such as malls, hospitals, or other places that require authorization.
#6) Inclusiveness should be encouraged, if there are people who would like to joining the caroling but are afraid to sing. These individuals can be helpful by playing simple musical instruments, such as bells, tambourines, and triangles.
#7) Do not solicit for donations unless there is advertising well ahead of time. Do not accept tips if you are not seeking charity donations. However if people offer you some refreshments, they are acceptable.
#8) Try to keep your distance, if you are caroling in the community. Avoid ringing doorbells and knocking on doors, by singing from the the street or sidewalk. If people are interested they will open their doors or windows, to listen. Exercise safety by not entering into the homes of strangers, but by remaining outside. If you are comfortable accepting an invitation into
someone’s home, be polite and thoughtful, and don’t overstay the welcome.
#9) Be gracious and polite when you accept applause or refreshments, and then continue on your way in a timely manner.
The audience is equally responsible to exercise appropriate manners toward carolers, by being kind and applauding their efforts. If you see carolers heading your way but are too busy to listen to them, turn your entry lights down, to darken your front door as a sign that you are not available. Remember that carolers usually have good intentions and are a great experience for one and all.
If you haven’t already experienced caroling firsthand, perhaps someday, you will be serenaded by carolers, or even experience being a caroler yourself. Then you will understand the true nature of caroling, the enjoyment that it adds to the holiday season and why carolers sing: We wish you a merry Christmas, we wish you a Merry Christmas, we wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

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