This week the Christmas windows were unveiled in the shop, featuring a traditional Christmas Carols theme. This theme was created with the use of wreaths decorated with sheet music alongside antique music composition books. Also included are some wonderful Christmas gift ideas with some items inspired by classic Christmas carols such as angels and Jesus in a manger.

Westminster Abbey Shop Windows

 

Christmas carols have a long history going back thousands of years when songs were sung by pagans during the Winter Solstice celebrations. Early Christians went on to adopt this tradition into the early celebrations of Christmas and gave their congregations Christian songs to sing. However these did not become very popular as they were in Latin, which was not commonly spoken. This resulted in people losing interest in celebrating Christmas by the Middle Ages.

Christmas music gained popularity again in 1223 when St Francis of Assisi started his Nativity Plays in Italy. Within these plays songs were used to tell the story and they were often sung using the language of the audience rather than Latin.

Westminster Abbey Shop Windows

The earliest recorded carol was written in 1410, but only a small fragment of it remains. The practice of singing carols was banned in the seventeenth century, when Oliver Cromwell and the Puritans came into power in England in 1647.  Despite being banned they were still sung in secret and the tradition survived, although not publicly. It wasn’t until Victorian times that they become popular again and new carols were written. It was at this time that people began singing carols in the street, a practice still enjoyed to this day.

If you would like to enjoy a selection of Christmas music over the festive period, you can browse our selection of CDs both online and in store. We have a selection of traditional Christmas music, from popular Christmas songs to traditional Christian carols sung by the Westminster Abbey Choir.