The "Coventry Carol" is a Christmas carol dating from the 16th century. The carol was performed in Coventry in England as part of a mystery play called The Pageant of the Shearmen and Tailors. The play depicts the Christmas story from chapter two in the Gospel of Matthew. The carol refers to the Massacre of the Innocents, in which Herod ordered all male infants under the age of two in Bethlehem to be killed. The lyrics of this haunting carol represent a mother's lament for her doomed child. It is the only carol that has survived from this play.
It is notable as a well-known example of a Picardy third. The author is unknown. The oldest known text was written down by Robert Croo in 1534, and the oldest known printing of the melody dates from 1591. The carol is traditionally sung a cappella. There is an alternative setting of the carol by Kenneth Leighton.
Famous quotes containing the word carol:
“Our enemy is by tradition our savior, in preventing us from superficiality.”
—Joyce Carol Oates (b. 1938)