Oxford Book of Carols

Oxford Book of Carols

The Oxford Book of Carols was published in 1928 by Oxford University Press. Its influence derives from its anthologists Percy Dearmer, Martin Shaw and Ralph Vaughan Williams and their choice of carol tunes, provision of new words for old tunes and the continuing reinvigoration of English church music. To some extent the currents of social development in 1920s England and the interest in village musical life as a consequence of the English Folk Dance and Song Society and Cecil Sharp were amplified by the socially aware Anglo-Catholic Dearmer and supported in music by Shaw and Vaughan Williams. The anthologists saw the direct simplicity and vigour of rustic music as a channel of musical development for the English parish church. Struggles with carol collections since 1800 are outlined in Dearmer's preface to the OBC.

The OBC was re-engraved and reset in 1964 by OUP and the page size of the new edition is larger but the content is the same. The most recent impression is dated January 26, 1984 and is still in print.

The New Oxford Book of Carols was published in 1992 by OUP. Anthologists Hugh Keyte and Andrew Parrott make few references to OBC in their Introduction and their aim appears the same as Dearmer's in 1928. The enormous task was shared by both sets of anthologists and Keyte and Parrott issued The Shorter New Oxford Book of Carols in 1993. Social conditions have changed in England since 1928 but the aim of giving people joy may have remained. Perhaps the spontaneous nature of carols indicates periodic revisitation of the field and in fifty or sixty years people will look again.

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