The First Nowell Carol

  muddypaws 18:30 13 Dec 2010

Was watching this yesterday evening and reading the subtitles.
Now is it me--in 70 years of singing this carol I have never seen 'Noel' spelt 'Nowell'.
Has the sub-title editor lost it or just ignorant.
Apologies if this spelling is a proper variant.
FF to 30mins 30 secs.
click here

  muddypaws 18:35 13 Dec 2010

Having paused the replay on the organist's sheet music it would appear that it can be spelt 'Nowell'.
Live and learn.

  wee eddie 18:35 13 Dec 2010


  Woolwell 18:37 13 Dec 2010

The carol's wording is nowell not noel. This link gives a plausible explanation as to why it is nowell click here (scroll down to additional note).

  jakimo 18:49 13 Dec 2010

after 70 years you must know it by heart

  Forum Editor 19:06 13 Dec 2010

The English language is a wonderful thing, liberally sprinkled with words that have their roots elsewhere.

Noël comes from the French for Christmas, and undoubtedly Nowell is a middle English spelling form. Some say the carol originated in Cornwall, but whatever the truth it's been The first noël for a long time.

Noël has its root in 'natalis', the Latin word for birth. Expectant mothers get prenatal care, and then there's that girl called Natalie.

It's fascinating stuff, once you start.

  uk-wizard 20:07 13 Dec 2010

I must have been watching the same program! I looked in my old hymnbooks and they all had it as Noel.

  muddypaws 20:26 13 Dec 2010

Thanks for the moral support!
Just as well the subtitles didn't read 'O Well, O Well' as per V.4 in your link or I would definitely have thought I was losing it!
Interesting link though.
Used to go round the houses with our church carol singing group in our youth. With a bit of luck we were occasionally invited in for a mince pie.
Don't seem to get that now.
Or do we?

  muddypaws 20:32 13 Dec 2010

Forum Editor
You managed, correctly, to get the two dots over the 'e'.
Thought that was the umlaut, but that would be German and far too difficult for me to accomplish!

  john bunyan 21:14 13 Dec 2010

A copy from a web page:

The French spelling, Noel, is now the standard in English rather than the older Nowell. "Nowell" first appears in the English medieval masterpiece, The Canterbury Tales, by Geoffrey Chaucer (ca. 1340-1400.) Its derivation is likely from the French for "new" i.e., nouvelle. Probably, as the ordinary phrase, nouvel an (new year) became contracted in particular reference to the festival, it soon thereafter developed the spelling of Noel as a designation for the feast day.

  muddypaws 22:20 13 Dec 2010

Thanks all.
I am now going to my 'manger' for a 'silent night'.

This thread is now locked and can not be replied to.

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