• Comment

Seaborn: Variations on a Christmas carol theme

Posted: December 6, 2017 - 1:43am

"Sing we now of Christmas; Noel, sing we here ..."

- Traditional French carol

During the Middle Ages, the people in England were not allowed to practice their faith openly. One Christmas during this era, someone wrote "The Twelve Days of Christmas" as a kind of secret catechism that could be sung in public without risk of persecution. The song has two levels of interpretation: a somewhat frivolous surface meaning, and a hidden meaning known only at the time to members of the church. Each element in the carol is a code word for a religious reality.

1. The partridge in a pear tree is Jesus Christ.

2. The two turtle doves are the Old and New Testaments.

3. The three French hens stand for faith, hope and love.

4. The four calling birds are the four Gospels.

5. The five gold rings recall the Torah, the first five books of the Bible.

6. The six geese a-laying stand for the six days of creation.

7. The seven swans a-swimming represent the seven gifts of the Spirit.

8. The eight maids a-milking are the eight Beatitudes.

9. The nine ladies dancing are the nine fruits of the Spirit.

10. The 10 lords a-leaping are the Ten Commandments.

11. The 11 pipers piping stand for the eleven faithful disciples.

12. The 12 drummers are the 12 points of belief in the Apostle's Creed.

Fast-forwarding to the 21st century, someone with an above-average literary imagination, tinged with a touch of humor, has paraphrased the titles of some familiar Christmas carols into what they might have been called had they been written by government officials. Can you guess what the original titles are?

1. Move Hither Entire Assembly of Those Loyal in Belief

2. Embellish Interior Passageways

3. Vertically Challenged Adolescent Percussionist

4. Soundless Nocturnal Period

5. Majestic Triplet Referred to in First Person Plural

6. Yuletide Occurrence Preceding All Others

7. Supreme Being Elicits Respite to Ecstatic, Distinguished Males

8. Emotional Expectation of Good Given to the Terrestrial Sphere

9. In Awe of Nocturnal Time Span Characterized by Religiosity

10. Listen as Celestial Messengers Produce Harmonious Sounds

11. Exclaim Small Judean Municipality Southeast of Jerusalem

12. Proceed, Declare Specific Fact Upon Alpine Formation

13. Hallucination of Natal Celebration Devoid of Color

14. Tintinnabulation of Vacillating Pendulums in Metallic, Resonant Cups

15. Jovial Yuletide Desired for Second Person Singular or Plural by First Person Plural

A touch of inspiration mixed with a smile or two for your Christmas enjoyment. Oh, and should you stumble over any of the disguised carol titles, a list of the correct titles will appear in the next column.

Barbara Seaborn is a local, freelance writer and author of the book, As Long as the Rivers Run: Highlights from Columbia County's Past. E-mail comments to seabara@aol.com

 

  • Comment