Friday, 19 December 2008

A Christmas Confession

I didn't know what 'Noel' meant...

So I checked the OED, and, apparently...

Anglo-Norman and Middle French noel (French noël).

Attested as a surname (and male forename) in England from the 12th cent. (probably originally used for children born or baptized on Christmas day).

1. The feast of Christmas; Christmastide; = Nowell n. 1. rare.
Not in standard use in English, though sometimes used in Anglicized greetings based on French models (see quot. 1953) and as an alternative spelling for Nowell (see quot. 2000).

1435 in H. Nicolas Proc. & Ordin. Privy Council (1835) IV. 295 To be paied by him for {th}e wages..fro {th}e feste of Seint Michel last unto Noel {th}anne next folowyng by a quarter. 1953 K. TYNAN Let. 19 Dec. (1994) iii. 199 Thank you again, and a joyous noël. 2000 Christmas TAB: First Noel in (Usenet newsgroup) 12 Dec., The First Noel. Note: In the chorus, finger the A* chords with fingers 2,3 & 4. It'll make those melody notes on the first string so much easier!

2. A Christmas carol.

1786 T. BUSBY Compl. Dict. Music, Noels, certain canticles, or songs of joy, formerly sung at Christmas in the country churches in France. 1880 Grove's Dict. Music II. 462 The French Noëls will, of course, bear no comparison with those written in Italy in point of excellence. 1903 Speaker 3 Jan. 324/2 The singing of noels must be heard to be really appreciated. 1946 Trollopian 2 6 He was ahead of his age in liking the genuinely popular in music: such folk songs as Noels, ‘Aileen Aroon’, chanties of sailors and dredgers, songs of harvest home. 1980 Early Music Apr. 259/1 The Noël, a peculiarly French genre consisting of a series of variations on popular Christmas tunes of the day, was developed in the first half of the 18th century by Daquin and others. 2000 Columbia Encycl. (ed. 6) 8529 Carols of French origin are called noels.

1 comment:

Louise Polhill said...

Neither did I - thanks!