Two little siblings were singing their favorite carol in church the Sunday before Christmas. The brother concluded “Silent Night” with the words, “sleep in heavenly beans.” His sister immediately elbowed him and said, “No, no beans, peas!” This Christmas season we’ll sing about forty carols, but one we won’t be singing is the well-known Deck The Halls. Here’s why:
Deck The Halls is a Welsh carol that goes back to the 1500s. It was originally entitled Nos Galen meaning “New Years” and was for that holiday. It eventually came to England as part of the re-newed celebration of Christmas inspired by Charles Dicken’s, The Christmas Carol. The song was written as a dance in which all the participants circled a harpist. One group then made up a lyric line (“Deck the halls with boughs of holly…”) after which the harpist played nine notes – just enough time for a second group to make up a corresponding rhyming phrase (“…Tis the season to be jolly.”). If the second group could not come up with a match, then they were out of the dance. The last dancers standing were the winners. Soon the carol made its way to America and up into the Appalachian mountains. And there the good hill folk (lacking a harp) came up instead with the substitute chorus, “Fa la la la la la la la la.”
The bottom line? Deck The Halls lacks any spiritual references to the Saviour’s birth. Therefore it’s far more suited for the dance hall than it is for the church hall.