From the recording Apples in Winter
Caroling was discouraged during the English Reformation, and Christmas was entirely outlawed during the reign of Oliver Cromwell. As one would expect, the English still celebrated the holiday in secret all over the country, more so in rural areas. These bans did have an effect, however, which is still reflected in the predominance of French and German carols present in the repertoire. While the English were protesting in public and celebrating in private, the rest of Europe continued to celebrate the season and write new Christmas hymns and carols. This set is an example of several French tunes that were eventually drafted into the English carol repertoire. "Marche De Turenne" ("La Marche des Rois Mages") dates back at least to 13th century France when the fervor of the crusades was sweeping Europe. The French reserve a separate holiday for the three kings, Le Fete des Rois, celebrated on January 6th. While this tune may even pre-date the crusades, it is likely then that the images of the ancient wise men and contemporary crusading nobles were combined. The tune became more widely known after Georges Bizet used it as incidental music in his opera "L'Arlesienne." "Pat-a-Pan" was written by Bernard de la Monnoye (1641-1728), a scholar and composer from Burgundian region. In 1701, he published a collection of carols based on local folk melodies and dialects. This dance-like carol features Guillo and Robin, stock characters in French folksong who are used to suggest the idea of the whole village or community. "Good King Wenceslas" and "Ding Dong Merrily on High" are both examples of the French Renaissance branle, a quick, rhythmic dance which the English translated as "brawl." Wenceslas was originally a Spring time dance "Tempus adest floridum" ("Spring Has Now Unwrapped the Flowers"). The modern words were added in the mid-19th century by John Mason Neale (1818-1866) based on the legends of a historic Bohemian Duke Vaclav (925-929). Vaclav's piety and philanthropy did not save him from being assassinated, but did get him honored (posthumously) as the patron saint of Bohemia. "Ding-Dong Merrily on High" comes from Orchesographie, a collection of dance tunes written in 1589 by Jehan Tabourot under the pseudonym Thoinot Arbeau. The tune was originally titled "Branle l'Officiel." The English title and words were imposed early in the 20th century by George Ratcliffe Woodward (1848-1934).