“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all.” Titus 2:11
Dear Redeemer Family:
Merry Christmas! And joy to all as we celebrate the birth of our Lord. As we celebrate Christmas, let us also remember that Christmas is not just a day, but a season of the Church. It is made up of 12 days. That of course, brings to mind the most confusing of all Christmas carols, “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” And, every year someone spends a lot of time to figure out how much all of the gifts listed in the song would cost if a person were to go out and purchase them for their “true love.” They have completely missed the point of the song, and its history. But it is a confusing song. So, I enclose this little fact sheet, which I have already given to some of you this season. So now, you will know what is going on in the carol:
From 1558 until 1829, Roman Catholics in England were not permitted to practice their faith openly. Someone during that era wrote this carol as a catechism song for young Catholics. It has two levels of meaning: the surface meaning plus a hidden meaning known only to members of their 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 was 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 & 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 were the nine fruits of the Holy 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 belief in the Apostles’ Creed.
So, the carol is more than a hymn, it is a devotional and a catechism. Enjoy! And Merry Christmas to all!