Being the time of year that it is, my thoughts have turned to Christmas carols. I have been asked to play 2 carols at this week's children's service, O Come All Ye Faithful, and Joy to the World. But do we know the origin of the carol? How is it that we still have this tradition? In the mid-nineties, my music teacher presented my family with a beautiful Christmas present, a hard-cover book titled The Book of Christmas Carols ( Quintet Publishing Limited 1985). There is an explanation inside the cover, stating that the word carol is derived from the old French word carole, which was a type of dancing song. Over time the songs were written in a more popular form, telling tales and using religious themes. There are over 50 carols in my book, some very obscure. The language in some of them can be quite strange, such as the odd beginning to a carol titled The Angel Gabriel. Mary questions Gabriel as to what he is, and states that she is married to an old man, telling the angel to leave her alone as she doubts his words. An old man? I've never heard Joseph described in this way. It's a fascinating book, with beautiful traditional and historic illustrations throughout. Our old favourites are there, along with the long-forgotten. and it's interesting how the carols are still with us in 2016. Some modern hymn and Christian song writers have updated words to some of the carols, and perhaps this is a good thing, as there isn't any point singing what we don't understand. I wonder how many books exist like this? Are they hidden away gathering dust on book shelves, or lovingly taken out each year, dog-eared and worn, but well cherished? Will you have a book in your hands this year, singing the traditional tunes of old?