Coventry Carol - For the Feast of the Holy Innocents
A Brief History of the Coventry Carol
Taken from here

The Coventry Carol, surprisingly, is not a Christmas carol at all. It is actually a part of the Feast of the Holy Innocents, celebrated December 28th, commemorating the massacre of the young children of Bethlehem ordered by King Herod in an attempt to eliminate the Messiah. The song is supposed to be rooted in one of the Coventry Corpus Christi plays which was the “Pageant of the Shearmen and Tailors,” (one of a cycle of medieval mystery plays where local people performed theatrical productions based on Bible stories). Basically, this song is a lament, women singing a last lullaby for their murdered children.  It is lovely, sorrowful, and haunting.  Another interpretation has it as Mary’s lament for the future fate of her newborn Son.  It seems a strange song for a festive time, but brings home part of the deeper meaning of the holiday for me.

The origins of the Coventry Carol as we know it are not clear.  The play was performed in the 15th century for Queen Margaret of England in 1456 and for Henry VII in 1492.  It may go back as far as 1392.  The lyrics known today are attributed to Robert Croo 1534 (based on early 19th century copies of a manuscript that was destroyed in 1875), and the music to an unknown composer in 1591.  There are conflicting references for this song, but it is known to have been performed and popular in the 16th century in some form, and are still popular today. 

The Coventry Carol

Lullay, thou little tiny Child,
By-bye lully, lullay.
Lullay, thou little tiny Child,
By-bye lully, lullay.

O sisters too, how may we do
For to preserve this day,
This poor Youngling for whom we sing
By-bye lully, lullay.

Herod the King, in his raging,
Charged he hath this day;
His men of might, in his own sight,
All children young, to slay.

Then woe is me, poor Child, for Thee,
And ever mourn and say;
For Thy parting nor say nor sing,
By-bye lully, lullay.

"So let us be confident, let us not be unprepared, let us not be outflanked, let us be wise, vigilant, fighting against those who are trying to tear the faith out of our souls and morality out of our hearts, so that we may remain Catholics, remain united to the Blessed Virgin Mary, remain united to the Roman Catholic Church, remain faithful children of the Church."- Abp. Lefebvre

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