Adeste fideles – Christmas Music from Westminster Cathedral

Adeste fideles – Christmas Music from Westminster Cathedral

Westminster Cathedral Choir, James O'Donnell (conductor)


The carol has had a long and varied history in all Christian countries in the west, particularly at Christmastide, but in its early days it had no connection with Christmas or even with Christianity. The French word carole means a round-dance, and the early carol consisted of verses and refrains, the former being entrusted to a soloist, the latter involving everybody present. During the refrain the singers would link hands, men and women alternately, and dance round in a circle. Some carols were used for secular purposes, others to celebrate pagan feasts. Needless to say, the medieval church frowned on this overt heathenry, but its leaders, acknowledging their powerlessness to put an end to the Roman Saturnalia and the winter solstice, took them over, lumped them together, and called them Christmas. Some of the old pagan carols, provided with new words and a Christian message, were also appropriated, and the genre of the Christmas carol was born.

Newsletter Sign Up