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Noel!

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The first noel the angel did say, twas to certain poor shepherds in fields as they lay

No Christmas season is complete without traditional Christmas songs we call carols. Most of them date back hundreds of years, which sometimes poses a problem for understanding them today.

Take for instance the carol titled, “The First Noel." It's a pretty song...but what’s a "noel?"  Well, I’m glad you asked.

Noel is a French word originating from Latin. It means “birthday." The First Noel rose to fame in fifteenth century in France. It is thought to have been brought from England before 1823 by wandering troubadours. (These were musicians who went from town to town singing original and folk songs).

This carol quickly became a favorite at Christmas Eve, especially in western England. Back then, entire villages gathered for singing and celebrations. Carols were popular religious songs meant to be sung outside the church, rather than inside.

“The First Noel” vividly portrays the story of the birth of Jesus in narrative style. The refrain is the equivalent of singing “happy birthday" to Jesus. So now you know!

Merry Christmas, everyone. And Happy Noel!

- Adapted from, Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotion, by Kenneth W. Osbeck

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