Carols of the Annunciation


Before the time of King Henry VIII and Queen Elizabeth I when caroling was banned except at Christmas, the spring of the year was a favorite time for gaily-dressed young people to go a-caroling from house to house to be rewarded by the householders with cider, cheese and cake. Especially on the feast of the conception of Christ on Annunciation day were carols sung. On this day young costumed mummers traveled from door to door singing carols and performing traditional plays.

Why was Christ’s conception day celebrated in the spring? Several Old Testament prophecies foretold that the coming of the Redeemer would be like the coming of spring. Because March 25 was the vernal equinox, the first day of spring in the old Julian calendar, this date was chosen early on for its symbolic meaning. And, some scholars believe, by counting nine months forward from this day the date of Christmas came to be determined in the fourth century.

Not only was March 25 the first day of spring, it was also New Year's day. Spring, when all nature renewed itself, was a natural time to observe the new year. This is why the old spring carols often contain New Year's greetings. And references to the Passion of Christ often appear in these carols because Good Friday often fell near or even on March 25.

For sample carols, go to the following links. Carols may be freely reproduced by churches, schools, and individuals for their non-commercial use.

A Glorious Angel from Heaven Came
Great Angel Gabriel from God
Used with the gracious permission of the author.