The carol, with its origins in folk dances and pagan festivities, is a far more earthy and exuberant creation than the hymn. It is associated with sociable occasions, story-telling and the pleasures of festive eating and drinking. The living tradition of carols, ever-changing and constantly being expanded, is celebrated in Ian Bradley's enjoyable, varied collection of over 100 songs. It reflects the richness of the genre both chronologically and geographically, placing each carol in its historical context. From the fifteenth-century 'boar's head' carol to more modern expression of faith which refer to space travel, from African-American spirituals and a Caribbean calypso carol to old favourites like 'O come, all ye faithful' and 'Away in a manger', here are new and well-known songs to read and sing along to, long-lost verses to add to your repertoire, fascinating anecdotes, stories to enjoy and tidings of comfort and joy for all.