Here we come a-Wassailing, a-Mumming and a-Carolling! We all love the best Christmas festive traditions – they offer us a chance to get together with families or friends and enjoy a time of celebration. These older Christmas traditions have changed through the centuries but at the heart of each of them is a theme of the community coming together to celebrate and sing.
Wassailing probably has its roots in ancient rites, but by the 18th century it had become a good excuse for village folk to go from house to house wishing the occupants good health - with more than a little drinking and singing thrown in for good measure! Although the word wassail is no longer part of everyday English, it means mulled wine - still very much part of Christmas celebrations across much of Europe.
Mumming (also known as mumping or guising) is another tradition that goes back centuries. At its root is the idea of dressing up in disguise, visiting the neighbours and making merry during the dark days of winter. By the 1500s the tradition had morphed into a less agreeable practice of masked beggars going from house to house, chanting the refrain ‘Christmas is coming, the beef (yes beef, not goose) is getting fat, please drop a penny in the old man's hat’. An edict from Henry VIII finally outlawed the practice - which begs the question whether the modern phenomenon of Trick or Treating is actually legal! Outlawed or not, we still like dressing up for Christmas parties!
Carolling is still very familiar to us 21st century Brits, but even the carolling traditions have changed over the centuries. At one time they varied from county to county and from town to town, embracing both sacred and secular songs, sometimes sung in procession to church, sometimes sung in the village inn and often sung going from house to house. This wonderful celebratory tradition of singing Christmas songs and carols has been passed down through the generations in homes, churches and schools.
Christmas Has Started – Songs For EVERY Christmas
A great opening song for any Christmas celebration. This rocky number is full of bounce, energy and syncopation, conveying all the excitement of traditional Christmas festivities.
Where Shall We Go This Christmas? – Sing Christmas
How does Christmas sound in different countries around the world? Let's travel to Jamaica, Spain, Kenya and Russia to find out! Includes optional harmony which is great for older children.
O Come All Ye Faithful – ESSENTIAL Christmas Carols
A traditional favourite, suitable for any carol concert or Christmas celebration. The ESSENTIAL Christmas Carols songbook has been carefully compiled to give a wide variety of styles, from traditional carols to modern classics such as Calypso Carol and It Was On A Starry Night.
This Christmas Time – Songs For EVERY Christmas
A descriptive song portraying a wide variety of Christmas scenes. With fun syncopation and melodic leaps, this song is ideal for use at the end of a Christmas performance or celebration to wish everyone a 'Merry Christmas'!
Christmas Conga – It's Christmas!
A fantastic song for creating a big conga around the room! This song is particularly suitable for younger voices and includes a variety of Christmas characters, so why not have fun making the appropriate masks or hats for the characters?
No Room At The Inn – Songs For EVERY Christmas
Perfect for a traditional nativity and sung mostly from the innkeeper's perspective, this swing-style song brings the traditional story right up to date with contemporary language.
Child In A Manger Born – A Cracking Christmas!
Out of the Ark does 'Away In A Manger'! A soulful, contemplative song that is perfect for some great solos, so have the tissues at the ready – This song has produced some profound moments over the years! Why not sign the song with our easy-to-learn SingSign™ video?
Mince Pies – Sing Christmas
A mince pie recipe set to a great, catchy tune - what could be more Christmassy? A cumulative song with 4 simple parts, so add the raisins and the brandy and get mixing!
There's A Sound Up In The Sky – The Niki Davies Christmas Collection
A wonderful song describing the sights and sounds of Santa's sleigh. Ideal as an opportunity to collect a variety of percussion instruments to decide which would be best for Santa's 'sound up in the sky'.
Click here to read our blog A Guide To Putting On A Christmas Concert which includes playlist suggestions for the perfect Christmas service or concert.
Listen to some of our Christmas song compilations available on the Out of the Ark Music YouTube Channel here.
(Orignally posted November 2017 - Updated September 2019)
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Out of the Ark Music has been providing schools across the country – and world – with wonderful primary school musicals and primary school songs for nearly 30 years. Our Christmas musicals and nativity plays make children sparkle and shine, year after year, as they proudly perform their school Christmas play. Our extensive collection of fun and joyous Easter songs, harvest songs, school assembly songs, leavers songs and even space songs, fill schools with laughter and give students and teachers alike, a reason to sing every day of the week. We’re glad you’re supporting us in our dreams of creating the best music for schools around the globe. Read more about us here.