Sunday, December 13, 2009

Twelve Drummers Drumming

On the twelfth day of Christmas,
my true love sent to me
Twelve drummers drumming,

Eleven pipers piping,
Ten lords a-leaping,
Nine ladies dancing,
Eight maids a-milking,
Seven swans a-swimming,
Six geese a-laying,
Five golden rings,
Four calling birds,
Three French hens,
Two turtle doves,
And a partridge in a pear tree.

Many people know the opening lyrics to "The Twelve Days of Christmas." But few know that behind the somewhat trivial counting song is essential Christian doctrine.

The song was composed by Catholics in England during the 16th century, who were forbidden by law to practice their Catholic faith. The only legal church in England was the state church. To teach their children basic doctrine, they used nonsense songs that would not raise the suspicions of the non-Catholics around them, but would remind the children of their faith.

"On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me"

The twelve days of Christmas are the twelve days between Christmas Day, Dec. 25th, the birth of Jesus, and the Epiphany, Jan. 6th, the day Christians celebrate the arrival of the Magi (Wise Men) and the revelation of Christ as the light of the world.

"A Partridge in a Pear Tree"

The partridge in a pear tree is Jesus the Christ, the Son of God, whose birthday we celebrate on December 25, the first day of Christmas. In the song, Christ is symbolically presented as a mother partridge that feigns injury to decoy predators from her helpless nestlings, recalling the expression of Christ's sadness over the fate of Jerusalem: "Jerusalem! Jerusalem! How often would I have sheltered you under my wings, as a hen does her chicks, but you would not have it so . . . ." (Luke 13:34)
"On the 2nd day of Christmas my true love gave to me..
Two Turtle Doves"
The Old and New Testaments, which together bear witness to God's self-revelation in history and the creation of a people to tell the Story of God to the world.
"On the 3rd day of Christmas my true love gave to me...
Three French Hens"
The Three Theological Virtues:  1) Faith, 2) Hope, and 3) Love (1 Corinthians 13:13)

"On the 4th day of Christmas my true love gave to me...
Four Calling Birds"
The Four Gospels: 1) Matthew, 2) Mark, 3) Luke, and 4) John, which proclaim the Good News of God's reconciliation of the world to Himself in Jesus Christ.
"On the 5th day of Christmas my true love gave to me...
Five Gold Rings"
The first Five Books of the Old Testament, known as the Torah or the Pentateuch:  1) Genesis, 2) Exodus, 3) Leviticus, 4) Numbers, and 5) Deuteronomy, which gives the history of humanity's sinful failure and God's response of grace in the creation of a people to be a light to the world.

"On the 6th day of Christmas my true love gave to me...
Six Geese A-laying'
The six days of creation that confesses God as Creator and Sustainer of the world (Genesis 1).

"On the 7th day of Christmas my true love gave to me...
Seven Swans A-swimming"
The seven gifts of the Holy Spirit: 1) prophecy, 2) ministry, 3) teaching, 4) exhortation, 5) giving, 6) leading, and 7) compassion (Romans 12:6-8; cf. 1 Corinthians 12:8-11)

"On the 8th day of Christmas my true love gave to me...
Eight Maids A-milking"

The eight Beatitudes: 1) Blessed are the poor in spirit, 2) those who mourn, 3) the meek, 4) those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, 5) the merciful, 6) the pure in heart, 7) the peacemakers, 8) those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake. (Matthew 5:3-10)

"On the 9th day of Christmas my true love gave to me...
Nine Ladies Dancing"
The nine Fruit of the Holy Spirit: 1) love, 2) joy, 3) peace, 4) patience, 5) kindness,6) generosity, 7) faithfulness, 8) gentleness, and 9) self-control.  (Galatians 5:22)

"On the 10th day of Christmas my true love gave to me...
Ten Lords A-leaping"
The ten commandments: 1) You shall have no other gods before me; 2) Do not make an idol; 3) Do not take God's name in vain; 4) Remember the Sabbath Day; 5) Honor your father and mother; 6) Do not murder; 7) Do not commit adultery; 8) Do not steal; 9) Do not bear false witness; 10) Do not covet. (Exodus 20:1-17)

"On the 11th day of Christmas my true love gave to me...
Eleven Pipers Piping"
The eleven Faithful Apostles: 1) Simon Peter, 2) Andrew, 3) James, 4) John, 5) Philip, 6) Bartholomew, 7) Matthew, 8) Thomas, 9) James bar Alphaeus, 10) Simon the Zealot, 11) Judas bar James.  (Luke 6:14-16).  The list does not include the twelfth disciple, Judas Iscariot who betrayed Jesus to the religious leaders and the Romans.

"On the 12th day of Christmas my true love gave to me...
Twelve Drummers Drumming
The twelve points of doctrine in the Apostles' Creed: 1) I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth. 2) I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord. 3) He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary. 4) He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended into hell [the grave]. 5) On the third day he rose again. He ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of the Father. 6) He will come again to judge the living and the dead. 7) I believe in the Holy Spirit, 8) the holy catholic Church, 9) the communion of saints, 10) the forgiveness of sins, 11) the resurrection of the body, 12) and life everlasting.

Now this "trivial song" we sing at Christmas has more meaning than we thought. So let us sing this song once again with faith in our hearts.

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  1. I've read about it before but I totally forgot it. Salamat po for reminding me.

    I will copy this tomorrow and send it to my friends via email.

    Merry Christmas, George. To you and your family.

  2. Ang ganda ng presentation mo dito bro. nakaline-up ko sana sa after 12DAYS before Christmas. :) yan meron na akong pandagdag. HIndi lang basta simple song ito but biblical also.

    Ako rin may I copy and pass the answers too!

  3. Wow!Akala ko dati xmas song lang sya talaga, meron palang kahulugan sa likod nito

    Salamat dito pre :)

  4. weee!!!

    ngayun ko lang 'to napag-alaman.
    favorite ko pa naman 'to!




  5. nabasa ko na rin to dati sa isang magazine..patunay lang talaga to na gagawin talaga lahat ng paraan ng mga may matinding pananalig sa Diyos ang lahat para maipakita lang ang kanilang pananampalataya..^__^

  6. salamat po kuya george :)

    pasko na pala!
    eh nagtatabulate pa ako para sa PEBA! lolz!

    advance merry christmas to you and to your family!

  7. ganda nman ng meaning ng song. thanks for the info. cool talaga ang blogging, people learn a lot and this Chistmas Season its good to know that we are singing songs even not literally written like the bible but reflects the bible and faith of Christians.

  8. At sino naman po ang TRUE LOVE who has given all of these to us? God the Father!

    Nice song, indeed! Merry Christmas, The Pope! o",)

  9. Naks naman...

    Hindi ko alam na may biblical explanation pala ang 12 days of Christmas!

    Thanks for the information :)

    Merry Christmas!

  10. sa totoo lang, ang alam ko lang po dito ay yung reason kung bakit 12 Days of Xmas pero di ko alam na bawat line pala ng kanta ay may ibig sabihin hehehe..

    nice on!



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