Trinity Carol Roll

Trinity College Library, Cambridge

Manuscript of musical notation ‘Deo gracias Anglia!’ or the ‘Agincourt Carol’.

The Trinity Carol Roll (Trin MS O.3.58), a parchment scroll over six feet long, is the earliest source for English polyphonic carols. Dating from the early 15th century in East Anglia, the roll contains words and musical notation on a five line stave for thirteen carols in Middle English and Latin. These include the patriotic ‘Deo gracias Anglia!‘, also known as the ‘Agincourt Carol’, celebrating Henry V’s victory over the French in 1415, and the popular ‘Ther is no rose’, which was later arranged by Benjamin Britten for his Ceremony of Carols in 1942.

Not all of the carols are intended to be sung at Christmas. A carol in the Middle Ages was a festive song sung at any time of year, often religious in theme but not a part of church worship. They were often the accompaniment to circle dances, processions…

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