The Twelve Days of Christmas – The Greatest Gift of All

The Twelve Days of Christmas – The Greatest Gift of All

Over the past few weeks I have presented my interpretation of the gifts sent by True love to his Beloved on   “The Twelve Days of Christmas” I hope you have enjoyed my musings and learned something in the processs.

However in this  fast moving, materialistic world in which we live, I believe the true meaning of Christmas and why we sing Christmas Carols, has been lost. Many either are unaware or choose to ignore what it is we celebrate at Christmas.

God sent His only Son in the form of a tiny baby. Jesus was God’s gift to a needy world. THE GREATEST GIFT OF ALL




“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life “ (John 3:16)



O Holy Night” (“Cantique de Noël“) is a well-known Christmas carol composed by Adolphe Adam in 1847 to the French poem “Minuit, chrétiens” (Midnight, Christians) by Placide Cappeau (1808–1877), a wine merchant and poet, who had been asked by a parish priest to write a Christmas poem. Unitarian minister John Sullivan Dwight, editor of Dwight’s Journal of Music, created a singing edition based on Cappeau’s French text in 1855. In both the French original and in the two familiar English versions of the carol, the text reflects on the birth of Jesus and of mankind’s redemption.


O holy night! The stars are brightly shining,

It is the night of our dear Saviour’s birth.

Long lay the world in sin and error pining,

Til He appear’d and the soul felt its worth.

A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,

For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.


Fall on your knees! O hear the angel voices!

O night divine, O night when Christ was born;

O night divine, O night, O night Divine.


Led by the light of Faith serenely beaming,

With glowing hearts by His cradle we stand.

So led by light of a star sweetly gleaming,

Here come the wise men from Orient land.

The King of Kings lay thus in lowly manger;

In all our trials born to be our friend.


He knows our need, to our weakness is no stranger,

Behold your King! Before Him lowly bend!

Behold your King, Before Him lowly bend!


Truly He taught us to love one another;

His law is love and His gospel is peace.

Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother;

And in His name all oppression shall cease.

Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,

Let all within us praise His holy name.


Christ is the Lord! O praise His Name forever,

His power and glory evermore proclaim.

His power and glory evermore proclaim.



If we all lived according to His teachings and patterned our lives on the life He lived , there would be no more hatred, strife and war. As we look at our world today we need Him more than ever.

At this Christmas time, I would challenge you to investigate Jesus. My prayer is that you would come to know Him for yourself

Please remember that Jesus is The Reason for The Season – The Greatest Gift of All

Doctor Bill

Previous  posts in the Series :

The Twelve Days of Christmas

The Twelve days of Christmas Day 1

The Twelve Days of Christmas Day 2

The Twelve Days of Christmas Day 3

The Twelve Days of Christmas Day 4

The Twelve Days of Christmas Day 5

The Twelve Days of Christmas Day 6

The Twelve Days of Christmas Day 7

The Twelve Days of Christmas Day 8

The Twelve Days of Christmas Day 9

The Twelve Days of Christmas Day 10

The Twelve Days of Christmas Day 11

The Twelve Days of Christmas Day 12

The Twelve Days of Christmas

The Twelve Days of Christmas

Most people know this song “The Twelve Days of Christmas” as a popular English Christmas carol, which gives a list of gifts of increasing value. But how many know its origin and meaning.

Origin of the Carol,  “The Twelve Days of Christmas

The Twelve Days of Christmas

The Twelve Days of Christmas refer to the Festive Days beginning on Christmas Day (25 December) and ending on the evening of 5th January. The Twelfth night is followed by the Feast of The Epiphany on 6 January, in the Christian Religious Calendar. Epiphany  remembers the coming of the Wise Men bringing gifts to The Christ Child in Bethlehem (Matthew 2: 1-12)

Although the specific origins of the chant are not known, It possibly began as a
Twelfth Night “ memories-and-forfeits” game, in which  a leader recited a verse, and each player repeated the verse, the leader added another verse and so on until one of the players made a mistake, with the player who erred having to pay a penalty, such as offering up a kiss or a sweet”. The earliest known printed version of the words were in the children’s book “Mirth without Mischief” published in England around 1780. (See Image below)


The Twelve Days of Christmas is believed to be an English Carol. However the song apparently is older than the printed version, though it is not known how much older. Textual evidence indicates that the song is in fact French. Three French versions of the song are known.

The earliest well known version of the music of the song, The Twelve days of Christmas was published in 1846 by James Orchard Halliwell-Phillipps  an English Shakespearean scholar and a collector of English Nursery Rhymes and Fairy Tales.

The Twelve Days of Christmas may have no meaning at all. Some have suggested that the each of the “gifts” represented a food or sport for each month of the year. Another has suggested that the lyrics were written as a “catechism song” to help Catholic children learn their faith in the days when practicing Catholicism was discouraged in England. See this suggested meaning in a later Post  

The Twelve Days of Christmas is a “cumulative song” which means that each verse is built on the previous one.

There are many variations of the carol “The Twelve Days of Christmas” and some with changes in items sent. In one version, there is a change in the order of the gifts in the last four verses

Some misinterpretations have crept into the English-language version over the years as we shall see as we explore each of the “Gifts”

There have been many parodies of the song also. For an exhaustive list click on The Twelve days of Christmas  here.

A version considered by many to be the authoritative, traditional version of the chant in England appears in “The Oxford Dictionary of Nursery Rhymes. This can be purchased by clicking on the image below

This post gives you a brief introduction to the Carol, “The Twelve Days of Christmas”.

Enjoy the singing of the Carol by Tennesse Ernie Ford on this UTube video.



In my next post I will tell you about the First Day of The Twelve Days of Christmas.


Doctor Bill