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The Truth About Christmas Carols

Composer Howard Goodall uncovers the surprising and often secret history of the Christmas carol including how, over the centuries, carols have been banned by both church and state.

There could be nothing more sweet and sentimental than the sound of traditional carols performed by a velvet-voiced choir at Christmas. Or so you would think. Composer Howard Goodall uncovers the surprising and often secret history of the Christmas carol.

Far from being accepted as part of the celebrations of Jesus's birth, over the centuries carols have been banned by both church and state. The carols we sing seem set in stone and yet they can have up to 400 regional variations. Individual carols have caused controversy - While Shepherds Watched had to be cleaned up by the Victorians for being too crude and there's a suspicion that O Come All Ye Faithful was a call to 18th century Jacobites to rebel.

The documentary celebrates the enduring power of the carol with a variety of performances from folk singer Bella Hardy to the choir of Truro Cathedral.

59 minutes

Last on

Wed 19 Dec 2018 01:00

Music Played

Timings (where shown) are from the start of the programme in hours and minutes

  • 00:16

    Maddy Prior and The Carnival Band

    I Saw Three Ships (Original)

Credits

Role Contributor
Presenter Howard Goodall
Producer Jonathan Mayo
Executive Producer Jean-Claude Bragard

Broadcasts

  • Christmas Day 2008 17:00
  • Christmas Day 2008 18:00
  • Sun 20 Dec 2009 19:00
  • Mon 21 Dec 2009 19:00
  • Fri 17 Dec 2010 21:30
  • Sun 19 Dec 2010 20:00
  • Tue 20 Dec 2011 22:30
  • Christmas Eve 2012 19:30
  • Tue 18 Dec 2018 20:00
  • Wed 19 Dec 2018 01:00

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