How to use the Songs & Carols pages

This site will help you discover the wealth of traditional Christmas carols from Gloucestershire. On the site you will find resources to help you learn and sing the carols.

There is also rare archive material, so that you can hear or read the songs as they were collected.


Most of the songs have audio recordings

  • Archive – Hear the original recording of a carol as it was collected
  • Contemporary – Sung in a more modern style


Diligent collectors noted down the songs in the exact key that the original singers used.  This is not always an easy key to sing in, so we also provide a copy that is more useful to the modern day carol singer.  These are PDF files that you can save to your computer, print-out and use at home.

  • Copy As Collected – The notes sung, in the key they were collected in
  • Copy for Singing – A tidier copy in a good key for singing

MIDI files

MIDI files are sound files derived from the manuscript scores above.  They give the tune with no words and are provided as an aid for people to learn the carol.  Especially useful if you want to learn the song by ear, rather than reading the dots.

  • MIDI as collected
  • MIDI for Singing

Playing MIDI: you click on the link it should play the file in your media player.

Downloading MIDI:  If you wish to download the file to your computer to use in notation software or other digital music devices, use the following procedure:

  1. Right click on the link
  2. Select ‘Save target as…’
  3. Select the file location to save the .mid file


Each song is prefaced with notes which explore its origins and, where possible, information about how it was collected.


Sometimes we find the words of a carol in a book, but for local carols the source is usually a singer.  A collecter has either recorded or written down the song directly from a traditional singer.  For all of the carols on this site you can find notes about the singer.  It may be one of your ancestors!


In the C19th people realised that there were local songs that only the old people sang.  The songs were not written down, and if the singer died, they would take part of our cultural heritage with them.

A number of people set out to collect the songs and write them down.  Later in the C20th, the collectors acquired new technology that would enable them to make audio recordings allowing future generations to hear the songs just as they were collected.

Across the country many thousands of songs have been saved, and the process continues to this day.

So, dig out that old cassette of grandad or granny singing and contact us – several important old recordings of Gloucestershire wassail songs have surfaced in recent years from just such tapes.

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