Search Bar

Custom Search

search results

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

On the Third Day of Christmas...Three French Hens
by Chuck

Christmas E-Cards

On the third day of Christmas,
my true love sent to me
Three French hens,
Two turtle doves,
And a partridge in a pear tree.

The three French Hens probably refer to a variety of chicken. There are many varieties of chicken and my research has shown that in the period in which this carol developed there were three main varieties of chickens associated with France. These were the Crevecoeur, Houdans and the La Fleche. The fact that they referred to a French rather than an English variety of chicken may be an indication that the carol originated in France or the words French Hens may have just had a good sound.

As mentioned in a an earlier article, many theorize that this carol evolved from an earlier song of French origin. One of the old songs often considered a predecessor to the "Twelve Days of Christmas" was called A New Dial. This song is referred to in records as early as 1625 and probably originated considerably earlier than that date. The New Dial links each of the twelve days of Christmas to a religious concept so that as children sang the song they would be taught the various tenants of their religious faith. Here are one version of the words to A New Dial:

A New Dial*

What are they that are but one?
We have one God alone
In heaven above sits on His throne.

What are they which are by two?
Two testaments, the old and new,
We do acknowledge to be true.

What are they which are but three?
Three persons in the Trinity
Which make one God in unity.

What are they which are but four
Four sweet Evangelists there are,
Christ's birth, life, death which do declare.

What are they which are but five?
Five senses, like five kings, maintain
In every man a several reign.

What are they which are but six?
Six days to labor is not wrong,
For God himself did work so long.
What are they which are but seven?
Seven liberal arts hath God sent down
With divine skill man's soul to crown.

What are they which are but eight?
Eight Beatitudes are there given
Use them right and go to heaven.

What are they which are but nine?
Nine Muses, like the heaven's nine spheres,
With sacred tunes entice our ears.

What are they which are but ten?
Ten statutes God to Moses gave
Which, kept or broke, do spill or save.

What are they which are but eleven?
Eleven thousand virgins did partake
And suffered death for Jesus' sake.

What are they which are but twelve?
Twelve are attending on God's son;
Twelve make our creed. The Dial's done.

* Lyrics Source:

Copyright © 2005-2006 by Charles J. Nugent Jr. and Victor L. Nugent.

No comments: