Christmas Carols New and Old was born out of the Protestant tradition of the established Anglican church of its period however the Reverend H. R. Bramely was known to be a disciple of the Oxford Tracticians and a strong High Church man. It is little wonder than that a Marian carol found its way, surreptitiously perhaps, into that first series of carols published in 1871.
The Seven Joys of Mary were popular in the devotional and artistic life of Medieval parishes and religious houses so it seems only natural that it should have become a carol - in the old sense of the word - to be sung at festive occasions. Though not originally meant specifically for Christmas its introduction into Bramely and Stainer's collection has led to it being consider appropriate for the season. Again it is not a carol that was or is sung in churches (to the more Protestant it smacked of "Popery", to the High Church it was perhaps too frivolous in melody to be comfortable amongst the smells and bells) however it was often sung in homes and by carollers as the season approached.
For some reason this carol is very popular in Eastern Canada - its jig like melody does have a bit of that down-East Callie mood to it. I recall that Rita McNeil always included it in her Christmas concerts and the version I've chosen to post is by Great Big Sea from Newfoundland. Their version conjures up thoughts of an extended family around the kitchen fire, eating and drinking and celebrating the season as a cold wind blows snow off the North Atlantic. It is rather amusing, and comfortable, to see that in this rendition from Newfoundland - and it appears that versions differ from region to region - at least three of the things that gave the Holy Virgin pleasure in her son growing up were things that gave every good Christian mother joy.
Thought I don't believe in advertising on my blog I believe also that artists should get credit, and recompense, for their work, so I'll mention that this is from an album called Atlantic Standards and is available at iTunes. There are some lovely and little known pieces on it that I'm happy to have in my Christmas collection.
17 dicembre/December - San Giovanni de Matha