Tuesday, December 22, 2009

A Partridge In A Pear Tree

It is told that from 1558 until 1829, Roman Catholics in England were discouraged from practicing their faith openly. Someone during that era wrote this carol as a catechism song for young Catholic children. The words of the carol hold two levels of meaning; the surface meaning, plus a hidden meaning known only to the members of the church. Each element in the carol has a code word for a religious reality which the children could remember.

-The partridge in a pear tree represented Jesus Christ.
-Two turtle doves were the Old and New Testaments.
-Three French hens stood for faith, hope, and love.
-Four calling birds were the four gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.
-Five golden rings recalled the Torah or Law, the first five books of the Old Testament.

-Six geese a-laying stood for the six days of creation.
-Seven swans a-swimming represented the sevenfold gifts of the Holy Spirit - prophesy, serving, teaching, exhortation, contribution, leadership, and mercy.
-Eight maids a-milking were the eight beatitudes.
-Nine ladies dancing represented the fruit of the Spirit - love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
-Ten lords a-leaping were the Ten Commandments.
-Eleven pipers piping stood for the eleven faithful disciples.
-Twelve drummers drumming symbolized the twelve points of the Apostles' Creed.

I am sure there are many such stories of how this carol came about, but I find this to be the one I want to believe.

7 comments:

  1. I never knew that! How fascinating. Thank you. and happy Christmas!

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  2. Thank you for this very interesting post, I choose to believe this particular story as well. I've really enjoyed coming to visit, ther is always something beautiful to see.
    Merry Christmas!

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  3. That is fascinating. Thank you for the information. I'll listen to that song with new ears next time.

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  4. Oh my Goodness, Rita! This was so interesting to me... I am spititual, but do not attend church so this gives me a bright light to see.

    Thank you for sharing, and I too will now listen to this song with a more educated ear :-)

    Merry Christmas!!

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  5. I had never read this story before Rita.
    It's really fascinating!

    Merry Christmas to you my sweet friend!

    ~Warmly, Melissa :)

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  6. I had not heard this before - I like the thought of this being the origin of that carol. Happy Holidays!

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  7. Dear Rita - this was so interesting - thank you for a little Christmas education today - it sure beats Christmas shopping! Happy Christmas & warm wishes, Susie x

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I hope this made you smile. I look forward to hearing what you have to say!